Monday, June 24, 2013
The New Mexico Supreme Court declined to suspend an attorney who had
failed in her commitment to civility and respect toward others, eroding public confidence in the legal system and weakening the effectiveness of the litigation on many levels.
There were three sets of incidents at issue in the disciplinary case.
In a domestic violence case, the attorney called another lawyer a "dumb bitch," called the domestic violence commissioner a "freak" and the proceedings a "freak show." In letters, she called opposing counsel "eternal lying scum," and accused the opposing party of "lying through his frigging teeth.'
In a contentious domestic relations matter, the attorney called the judge a drunk and the opposing party "goofy," a "dimwit," a dingbat," and a "duffus." (editors note: Is that doofus?)
The third incident involved accusations of an impermissible relationship betwen the judge and opposing counsel.
The court indicated that it would have suspended the attorney but for its conclusion that the conduct was a product of untreated bipolar condition that is now being addressed.
While the ultimate outcome in this case did nor result in Respondent's suspension from the practice of law, all members of the bar should take note that our call for civility in all aspects of the practice of law must be taken seriously. Because legal disputes can be emotionally charged, it is up to every member of the bench and bar to behave in a manner that exemplifies the best of our profession. At a minimum, it is the ethical responsibility of every attorney to maintain a civil demeanor that helps resolve disputes, rather than escalate them.
The court had delayed imposition of a 90 day suspension to consider the impact of the bipolar disorder on sanction. (Mike Frisch)