Thursday, July 7, 2011

Assault Alford Plea Draws Suspension

The Oklahoma Supreme Court rejected a proposed public reprimand in favor of a 30 day suspension in at matter involving an attorney who took an Alford plea to misdemeanor assault charges. The coourt noted that the conduct showed extremely poor judgment, even though not related to the practice of law.

 The court set out the facts:

  [The attorney] was initially charged with one felony count of assault with a dangerous weapon for allegedly hitting a man with his car. His criminal charges were reduced to a misdemeanor and he entered an Alford plea of guilty to assault and battery on or about April 21, 2010. [He] received a suspended sentence of ninety days. 

 In December of 2004, [he] discovered that his wife, now ex-wife, had stolen more than two hundred thousand dollars from his clients' trust account. While he and his ex-wife were separated, [he] discovered that she was involved with another man, Jerry Adams (Adams). [The attorney] testified that he made contact with Adams via a social networking site regarding Adams' relationship with the former Mrs. Hayes. Adams confirmed that he and [the attorney's] ex-wife were in an ongoing relationship. [The attorney] claimed that initially correspondence between him and Adams was cordial; however, things began to deteriorate when he asked Adams to pay to have [his] car removed from impound. [He] made this request because he claims that Adams offered to pay back the money that Hayes' ex-wife had stolen.

 Over the course of several months, relations between [the attorney], Adams, and [his] ex-wife became extremely turbulent. From March 2008 through April 2008, several Petitions for Victim Protection Orders were filed against [the attorney] by his ex-wife, his ex-wife's mother, and Adams. The emails and text messages between [the attorney] and Adams grew more inappropriate, vile, and abusive. The general harassment by all parties involved continued over the course of several months.

 On or about April 24, 2008, [the attorney] and Adams had a heated discussion regarding the divorce proceedings between [him] and his ex-wife. As a result of this argument, [the attorney] went to Adams' job to antagonize him. Specifically, [he] placed on Adams' windshield a posterboard size copy of an explicit text message that Adams allegedly sent to [him] on a prior occasion. After placing the posterboard on Adams' car, [he] called Adams at work and reported his actions. Adams immediately went to the parking lot to check on his car. [The attorney], now back in his vehicle, was heading towards the exit. The record reveals that Adams was injured as he approached his vehicle. The parties concede that an argument ensued between [the attorney] and Adams, but the parties dispute the circumstances surrounding Adams' injury. Adams claimed that [the attorney] hit him with his car and called the police. [He] denied this allegation. [He] was arrested and charged with felony assault with a dangerous weapon.

(Mike Frisch)

Bar Discipline & Process | Permalink

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