Saturday, May 18, 2013

A Hoosier Horror Story: The Fall Of The House Of Usher

The Indiana Supreme Court has imposed a suspension of at least three years without automatic reinstatement of an attorney named Arthur Usher.

The court found he had "engag[ed] in a pervasive pattern of conduct involving dishonesty and misrepresentation that was prejudicial to the administration of justice."

The attorney developed a romantic interest in an Indiana McKinney School of Law student ("Jane Doe" in the court's opinion) who interned at his law firm of Bose, McKinney & Evans. She just wanted to be friends. The misconduct took place after she had rebuffed his romantic overtures.

Jane Doe was an actress who had appeared in a horror film.

The attorney (who had left the Bose firm) contacted the fim's producer and obtained a copy of a clip from the film that apparently showed Jane Doe in a "state of undress." As a result of his contact with the producer, Jane decided to end their friendship.

The attorney then used the film clip in an attempt to humiliate Jane Doe (who had had a body double in the nude scene) and interfere with her employment prospects.  He sent the clip to an attorney at the Bose firm where Jane had accepted an offer and suggested that hiring her would have an adverse impact on the firm.

Jane told him to leave her alone or she would file for a restraining order.

He retaliated by widely disseminating (through his paralegal) a false e-mail chain along with the film clip.

Lowlights from the e-mails:

Firm Slogan becomes "Bose means Snuff Porn Film Business" w/addition of Jane Doe.

I think you are failing to understand how harmful [Jane Doe]'s behavior was to all female professionals...

Quite frankly, I can not [sic] believe Bose McKinney employs this woman...

That firm is free to hire idiots who participate in a film demeaning to women...

The e-mails and film clip was distributed by the paralegal, who believed it was a prank. He gave her a flash drive and had her create an e-mail account using the name of the managing partner at Bose. It was sent to 51 recipients, mostly at the Bose firm.

When Jane Doe filed a bar complaint and civil suit, the attorney denied he sent the e-mail. He later admitted he had done so, claimed his answers in the litigation were technically accurate and claimed First Amendment protection.

The court rejected his "[h]ypertechnical parsing of ordinary English" and found he had made knowing false statements in the civil case.

Justice David would disbar. (Mike Frisch)

Bar Discipline & Process | Permalink

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