Monday, March 8, 2010
The Michigan Attorney Discipline Board affirmed a hearing panel's findings of misconduct and reprimand for a violation of Michigan Rule of Professional Conduct 6.5(a), which requires a lawyer to:
...treat with courtesy and respect all persons involved in the legal process. A lawyer shall take particular care to avoid treating such a person discourteously or disrespectfully because of the person's race, gender, or other protected personal characteristic. To the extent possible, a lawyer shall require subordinate lawyers and nonlawyer assistants to provide courteous and respectful treatment.
The attorney sought review of the hearing panel's decision, arguing that "his conduct was protected by state and federal guarantees of free speech, that [the rule] was not violated, and that the rule did not provide fair notice that his conduct would subject him to discipline."
The board rejected these contentions:
There is no dispute about the nature of respondent's statements. They were made in the course of his duties at the courthouse. They go beyond discourteous and disrespectful and were in fact offensive and degrading. We conclude that they are also plainly covered by the rule, and we find no constitutional impediment to their enforcement under these circumstances.
The statements are not recounted in the board's order.
Update: I now have the panel decision and understand why the board did not quote the respondent.
The link did not work--will fix next week. (Mike Frisch)