Sunday, April 17, 2011
A disciplinary summary from the Massachusetts Board of Bar Overseers explains how an attorney got suspended for a year and day in representing himself:
A hearing committee found that, while acting pro se in post-divorce proceedings, the respondent attempted to drive the presiding judge out of the case using baseless accusations that the judge was incompetent, dishonest, and corrupt. The respondent’s inflammatory comments began after the judge issued a judgment adverse to the respondent on contempt complaints against him and on his complaint for modification of the divorce judgment. Among other things, the respondent characterized the judge as a pathological liar and a rat, her courtroom as a sewer, and her award of counsel fees to his ex-wife as a “wedding gift” for opposing counsel.
The respondent made his accusations primarily in eight motions to recuse presented over the course of about fifteen months; they also appeared in four letters to the chief justice of the probate court and another to the first justice of the Middlesex probate court. To support his accusations, the respondent made false statements about the record, obfuscated facts and misstated the holding of reported appellate cases. The respondent also filed a civil action against the judge repeating his allegations, and he threatened disciplinary action against the judge and opposing counsel.
The committee found that the respondent had no objectively reasonable basis for his accusations and for his civil complaint. The committee also found that the respondent engaged in the same type of conduct during the hearings.