Monday, August 18, 2008

Informal Attire Not Unethical

A hearing officer in Arizona "[h]aving served as a disciplinary committee member or hearing officer for over 25 years" for the first time recommends "complete dismissal" of all misconduct charges against a lawyer admitted in 1999.

The alleged misconduct? First, the lawyer visited a police station to interview two officers wearing a t-shirt with "Let the fucking begin" across the front. His intent was to "communicate to the police officers his general feeling that his client was at a disadvantage in the judicial system by virtue of the police misconduct..." A prosecutor who was present was not offended but thought it was funny. Second, the lawyer opined to a prosecutor that another prosecutor was "an unethical piece of trash." Third, the lawyer wrote a note to a prosecutor complaining about the quality of magazines in her office's waiting room and had a subscription to Modern Drunkard magazine sent to her at the office, which she thought was intended as a joke. She did not put the magazines in the waiting room.

Bar Counsel charged the attorney with using means that had no substantial purpose other than delay and embarrassment and failure to abstain from "all offensive personality." Bar Counsel conceded that the conduct was "not the most serious but inappropriate" and sought informal reprimand. The hearing officer determined that "inappropriate" is not an interchangable concept with "unethical." (Mike Frisch)

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/legal_profession/2008/08/a-hearing-offic.html

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