July 12, 2012
Discovery Violations, Disparaging Remarks, Draw Suspension
The Washington State Supreme Court has suspended an attorney for 18 months based on findings in connection with representing his wife (a chiropractor) in litigation against a departed employee:
[The attorney] seeks review of a recommendation by the Washington State Bar Association Disciplinary Board (Board) that he be suspended from the practice of law for 18 months. The hearing officer found that [he] intentionally and repeatedly obstructed and delayed litigation by failing to respond to discovery requests and by falsely certifying that he had made a
reasonable inquiry into the accuracy of the responses he eventually gave. Further,
while the trial judge was considering imposing sanctions for these discovery
violations, [the attorney] sent two ex parte communications to the judge disparaging the
opposing party based upon her national origin. We conclude that the hearing
officer's findings of fact are supported by substantial evidence. Reviewing the
conclusions of law de novo, we also accept the officer's conclusions of law. With
appropriate deference, we accept the recommendation of the Board and suspend
McGrath from the practice of law for 18 months.
The court described the disparaging remarks:
As Judge Rogers was considering Ellison's motion for default based on [the attorney's]
discovery violations, he received two letters from [him]. The first was a typed letter regarding the motion for default. A handwritten message was scrawled on the bottom of the last page: "Your decision is going to effect [sic] American's [sic] -- How [sic] are you going to trust & believe -- a [sic] alien or a U.S. citizen. Thomas McGrath #1313." Ex. A-26. The second was a single page entirely handwritten:
Dear Judge Rogers;
How many jobs do we give to aliens like Dr. Ellison: She was
schooled here in the U.S. and refuses to become a U.S. citizen. She
needs to go back to Canada.
In that regard, I am asking the Court to freeze all of her assets
pending the outcome of this case.
Thomas F. McGrath, Jr.
Attorney for CWC
King County Sup. Ct.
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