Thursday, December 17, 2009
The Review Department of the State Bar Court of California has recommended a stayed two-year suspension with 90 days of actual suspension and probation for two years. The charges arose as a result of "53 threatening and abusive voicemail messages to the successor administrator of [his father's] estate [from which the attorney had been removed as co-executor], the attorney for the administrator and the ex officio judge...who was responsible for overseeing the estate." The attorney had objected to a hearing judge's like proposed sanction, contending that the conduct did not involve moral turpitude, the communications were protected by the First Amendment, and that personal misconduct was not subject to discipline.
A "few representative examples" of the messages at issue are recounted in the opinion: "Kid [the ex officio judge], as long as you've got a fiduciary relationship with me, which you do, uou've got to talk to me, whether you like it or not, you little bullshit artist, and I'll fuck with you anyway I want to until you do." The judge got a restraining order that ended the calls.
The state bar court rejected the attorney's claims and stated:
To his credit, [he] has 24 years of discipline-free practice without a record of abusive conduct, and he now recognizes that he got "carried away" with the situation. Moreover, his behavior did not involve physical injury to another. We further observe that when faced with the Superior Court's order, he ceased his telephone harassment of the three individuals. But, by any measure, his conduct is "unacceptable from anyone in society and particularly reprehensible from an attorney." (quoting a 1991 case).