Monday, May 11, 2009
An Arizona hearing officer has recommended a public censure and probation in a matter where the attorney had engaged in a sexual relationship with a criminal client without advising to seek new counsel or disclosing the nature of the potential and actual conflict of interest. The relationship began when lawyer and client met at a bar for drinks. The criminal case was resolved by plea and the client served jail time. The lawyer and client are now married.
The attorney did not initially respond to the bar's investigation but eventually responded to emails from the disciplinary counsel. Noting that a more severe sanction (i.e. suspension) would have been imposed had the attorney not participated, the hearing officer commended disciplinary counsel for the efforts to reach out to the accused attorney. (Mike Frisch)