April 20, 2009
An Arizona hearing officer recommends the censure of an attorney admitted in April 2005 based on a proposed consent disposition. The attorney was the subject of two complaints. When a divorce client filed a bar complaint in July 2008, he replied with "an inaccurate statement based on an emotional response to what he believed was a meritless complaint against him." The response violated ethics rules. The attorney also had advised his client to ignore a lawful court order of support.
The Bar agreed to dismiss some of its charges as part of the consent agreement and "in light of evidentiary concerns" about some of the charges. As to the sanction recommendation: "He is genuinely aware that he gave bad advice to his client...But when the Hearing Officer asked him what he learned from his two encounters with the Bar he answered that he gave up a lucrative practice to represent lower income people and that in spite of his altruism he got complaints... [He] also stated that in law school he did not think that every time he made a mistake as a lawyer he would have a bar complaint filed against him. He did not appreciate being 'put on the hot seat and defend my behavior' every time a client became upset with him."
I hope this will be a censure that serves as a wake up call rather than the start of a long disciplinary record. (Mike Frisch)
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