July 2, 2010
The Iowa Supreme Court has imposed a suspension without possibility of reinstatement for three months in a matter where the attorney had been convicted on plea of guilty to six counts of invasion of privacy-nudity. The conduct involved repeated "peeping tom" incidents at a home occupied by three women:
Here, [the attorney] engaged in a pattern of criminal conduct by repeatedly looking into the victims' windows. In doing so, he violated Doe's, Roe's, and Poe's privacy, and caused them emotional distress. Although his conduct was compulsive, the record also establishes he intentionally and knowingly invaded the privacy of these women. This conduct also raises serious misgivings about whether [he] understands the concept of privacy and respects the law protecting privacy rights.
The court sets out in detail the efforts taken to identify the attorney as the perpetrator. A surveillance photograph was taken outside of the house. The police had a license number of a car seen in the area that the attorney had recently purchased from a friend. The surveillance photo was compared to his license driver's photo and a match was made. The attorney admitted the conduct when confronted with the evidence.
The court noted that the attorney had entered entered treatment and that the prognosis suggests a slim chance of future similar acts.The court also found that the conduct did not violate the "conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice" rule.
The attorney was admitted in 1987 and was on inactive status at the time of the crimes. He was managing a four-state newspaper distribution business and found the house through his newspaper deliveries. The house was owned by an 80 year old woman who had two tenants in their twenties. One of the tenants was so frightened that she covered the windows with blankets and dressed in a closet. The other tenant quit her internship and moved back home as a result of fear caused by the incidents. This victim also declined to press criminal charges for fear of the attorney.
Notably, the Grievance Commission had found three rules violations and recommended a two-year period before the attorney could seek reinstatement. The court found a single rule violation. (Mike Frisch)
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