Friday, May 8, 2009
The Louisiana Supreme Court has posted its opinion in the case where an attorney in a bitterly-contested case called opposing counsel a "jackass" in open court. Opposing counsel responded: "Your mother is a jackass." The first lawyer then grabbed the second lawyer's suit jacket "and both men fell to the floor." Both were found in contempt of court. The first lawyer was criminally charged and found guilty of simple battery.
The first lawyer was suspended for six months, a downward departure from the proposed year and a day suspension of the disciplinary board. The second lawyer received a public reprimand. A dissent would impose the year and a day suspension on the first lawyer: "[The attorney] exchanged vulgarities with [opposing counsel] in open court. [He] also was convicted of the crime of simple battery committed upon [opposing counsel] during the same hearing in open court. A lawyer who turns a verbal argument into a physical encounter is cupable as an aggressor, warranting a significant period of actual suspension." (Mike Frisch)