Monday, November 30, 2009
An Arizona hearing officer rejected a laundry list of ethics charges but found that the accused lawyer (who had a single instance of minor discipline in 30 years of practice) had failed to competently handle an appeal. The underlying case (the Abad case) involved claims of over 100 plaintiff that mold exposure at their apartment complex had caused injuries. The hearing officer recommended public censure and three years probation with conditions that the attorney complete 20 hours of CLE on appellate procedure, report any appeal in his cases to the State Bar and associate with experienced counsel in any appeal. As to sanction:
The mitigating circumstances in this case are overwhelming. The sanction imposed by the trial judge [$750,000] was unprecedented. It has had a devastating effect on [the lawyer], his family and his practice. It is also important to consider that the Abad case is still on appeal. It is impossible to estimate if there is any harm to the clients until the matter is resolved.
Among the charges found unproven were incidents of what were called "rude" behavior. One incident took place during the deposition of one of the attorney's experts. The attorney said "Excuse me, Do you have a shit-eating grin on your face, Cindy?" (Mike Frisch)