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)

May 18, 2013 in Bar Discipline & Process | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, May 17, 2013

No New Rule 8.4(h) For Tennessee

The Tennessee Supreme Court has entered an order denying the petition of its Board of Professional Responsibility to amend its Rule 8.4 to add a subsectuon (h) prohibiting engaging "in a professional capacity, in certain discriminatory conduct."

The court concluded that the rule and comment to subsection (d)(conduct prejudicial to the administation of justice), which tracks the ABA Model Rules, sufficiently deals with the issue. (Mike Frisch)

May 17, 2013 in Bar Discipline & Process | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

The 14 Percent Chance

The Wisconsin Supreme Court has reinstated an attorney suspended for two years in 2010 for possession of heroin and felony bail jumping.

The court described the situation that led to the conviction

Attorney C. began using illegal drugs around 2006, and he admitted being "coked up" while handling legal cases in court.  The referee noted that Deputy Sergeant Patek of the Walworth County Sheriff's Department testified at the reinstatement hearing that Attorney Compton's conduct before his arrest included possession and delivery of both heroin and cocaine.  Deputy Sheriff Long of the Walworth County Sheriff's Department testified that Attorney Compton's conduct before his arrest had a major impact on a woman who was a significant person in Attorney C.'s life, and the woman ultimately lost her teaching license as a result of drug conduct and her relationship with Attorney C.  Deputy Sheriff Long described Attorney C. as a "great person" and "a very smart attorney."

Lake Geneva had this report on the criminal case.

The petitioner had turned his life around to a remarkable degree and has been drug-free for nearly five years.

There was testimony from a representative of the bar's recovey program that after five years of sobriety, there is a 14% chance of relapse.

The court:

In spite of Attorney C.'s remarkable efforts to turn his life around, the referee did express some concern about the possibility of relapse.  Although Ms. Albert put the risk of a relapse at approximately 14 percent for someone who has been free of drugs and alcohol for five years, the referee said when it comes to trusting a lawyer to serve the public and the legal profession, a 14 percent relapse rate still needs to be addressed.  For that reason, the referee recommends that Attorney C. remain under close monitoring, similar to his current WisLAP monitoring, for a minimum of two years from the date of his reinstatement.  The referee said extending the monitoring deadline beyond the October 1, 2014 expiration of his current WisLAP monitoring agreement will not only provide further support for Attorney C., but will also allow a quicker response to any relapse.

In response to the concerns of the two sheriff's deputies that Attorney C.'s term of suspension has been insufficient given his criminal convictions, the referee pointed out that this court saw fit to suspend Attorney C.'s license for a period of two years.  The referee said during that two-year period, Attorney C. has done everything possible to rehabilitate himself; he appears rehabilitated; and expert testimony shows there is very little more that can be done for him.  The referee said to deny reinstatement on the basis that a two-year suspension was not long enough would be second guessing this court's choice of the appropriate period of suspension and would also be ignoring Attorney C.'s nearly perfect record at rehabilitation up to this time.

The court order provides that the attorney's recovery be monitored for two years. (Mike Frisch)

May 17, 2013 in Bar Discipline & Process | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Suspended Despite A Great Lawyer Name

An attorney who had converted funds and failed to maintain required records had been suspended for nine months with reinstatement conditioned on probation by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court.

Nothing particularly notable about the case other than the fact that the attorney shares the name of perhaps the most famous lawyer in Masachusetts history -- Daniel Webster. (Mike Frisch)

May 17, 2013 in Bar Discipline & Process | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Suspension For Failure To Return Unearned Fee

The Indiana Supreme Court has imposed a suspension of 30 days without automatic reinstatement in a case involving fee misconduct.

The attorney charged a flat fee of $12,000 for a criminal matter and was paid $6,000 up front. After a month, she was discharged. She had failed to keep records of the time devoted to the case and provided a reconstruction.

The hearing officer found that the attorney did little to earn a fee and that the reconstructed invoice was intended to deceive.

The hearing officer conclude that the attorney had only earned $1,000 and failed to return the unearned portion of the fee after discharge. (Mike Frisch)

May 17, 2013 in Bar Discipline & Process | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tailored Sanction

An attorney who had misappropriated funds held in connection with the sale of tailoring business was permanently disbarred by the Ohio Supreme Court.

The attorney initially defaulted on the charges and then tried to resign. The court did not accept his resignation.

In response to the question, here's a link to the record before the Supreme Court. (Mike Frisch)

May 17, 2013 in Bar Discipline & Process | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Ethics Charges Filed After Murder Conviction

The Illinois Administrator has filed a complaint based on the following factual averments:

On or before October 16, 2006, Respondent agreed to represent Nova Frances Henry ("Henry") in matters related to her pending paternity suit against the father of her son. That matter had been docketed by the Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County as Nova F. Henry v. Eddy Curry, case number 2005D080721.

In or about December 2006, while Respondent was still acting as Henry’s attorney in relation to case number 2005D080721, Respondent and Henry began having a sexual relationship.

On January 24, 2009, Respondent shot and killed Henry, and her 10-month-old daughter, Ava Curry.

On March 19, 2009, a Grand Jury for the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois, returned a fourteen-count criminal indictment against Respondent stemming from the incident described in paragraph three, above. People of the State of Illinois v. Fredrick Goings, case number 09-CR-5704. A copy of the indictment is attached as Exhibit One.

The attorney was convicted of first degree murder and sentenced to life in prison.

NBC Chicago reported that the child victim was the daughter of former NBA center Eddy Curry. (Mike Frisch) 

May 16, 2013 in Bar Discipline & Process | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Driving Offenses Draw Suspension

From the web page of the Ohio Supreme Court:

The Supreme Court of Ohio today  imposed an indefinite suspension against the law license of Massillon attorney  Dale Alan Zimmer for multiple violations of state attorney discipline rules.

The court voted 7-0 to adopt  findings by the Board of Commissioners on  Grievances and Discipline that Zimmer engaged in professional misconduct and  showed a disregard for his obligations as a citizen and as a lawyer in  connection with three separate incidents involving traffic law violations  between 2006 and 2012.

In its report, the disciplinary  board noted that in November 2011 Zimmer crashed his car into a parked vehicle  and a building, causing damage to both, then fled the scene without reporting  the accident or leaving contact information.   He was subsequently arrested and found guilty of failure to stop at the  scene of an accident.  While Zimmer was  in custody for the November 2011 arrest, law-enforcement authorities discovered  that there was an outstanding bench warrant for his arrest based on a September  2008 incident in which he was convicted of driving without a license and  ordered to return to court with proof of a valid driver’s license, but failed  to appear. 

The board also noted that a new  bench warrant was issued for Zimmer in March 2012 for violating  the conditions of a home confinement sentence  imposed on him in January 2012.  That  sentence was  based on a 2006 DUI arrest for  which  Zimmer failed to appear at a  scheduled court hearing, and subsequently evaded prosecution for more than five  years. The board noted that in July 2012 Zimmer sent a letter to the judge in  that case stating that he was currently being treated at a Canton hospital and  had been attending numerous 12-step program meetings in an attempt at sobriety.

Observing that Zimmer’s misconduct   had not resulted in any reported harm to  his clients, but that his record of alcohol-related traffic offenses and his  flight from the scene of his most recent incident suggested an untreated  substance abuse problem, the court adopted the board’s recommended sanction of  an indefinite license suspension with future reinstatement conditioned on proof  of Zimmer’s compliance with an established substance-abuse treatment program.

Based  on today’s action, the earliest  date on  which Zimmer would be eligible to apply for reinstatement  is May 16, 2015.

The opinion  is linked here. (Mike Frisch)

May 16, 2013 in Bar Discipline & Process | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Judicial Candidate Sanctioned For False Statements

A judicial candidate has been publicly reprimanded and barred from judicial office for five years by the Indiana Supreme Court.

The candidate ran for a circuit court judgeship against an incumbent. The judge had modified the sentence of a convicted felon.

In a newspaper article, the candidate was quoted falsely claiming that the judge and the felon were "boyhood friends." A press release from her campaign suggested that the judge's "work was paid for by the taxpayers, so it wasn't free for anyone but a convicted murderer [the released felon]."

After his release, the felon committed crimes in Ohio. The candidate claimed he would have been in prison but for the actions of the judge. She refused to correct the suggestion after the Commission on Judicial Qualifications "advised her that it appeared she was incorrect" in that suggestion.

The court approved the settlement agreement submitted by the candidate and the commission. (Mike Frisch)

May 16, 2013 in Judicial Ethics and the Courts | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Life Imitates Art

Two Fordham Law graduates opened their own firm in January 2008 with a concentration in personal injury matters.

Both were suspended for nine months and until further order by the New York Appellate Division for the First Judicial Department.

The misconduct involved  an approach to a case that calls to mind two of my favorite fictional attorneys - Paul Biegler in Anatomy of a Murder and Whiplash Willie Gingrich of The Fortune Cookie.

Neither attorney had significant experience in personal injury law prior to opening their firm.

Shortly after they opened for business, they were retained by a client who was allegedly injured in a fall. She recalled that she had fallen in front of a church with a sidewalk defect at a street intersecting with Lockwood Avenue in the Bronx. Trouble was, she could not remember the name of the church or its exact location.

They went on line and found no such church.

Rather, they focused on Bryn Mawr Presbyterian on Lockwood Avenue in Yonkers. Trouble was, there was no defective sidewalk in front of the church. Solution: there was a defective sidewalk across the street, abutting the property of a private homeowner.

Then came the Paul Biegler "explanation" of the law. After the attorneys told the client that she only had a viable potential claim against the homeowner, she changed her story. The attorneys then sued the homeowner.

As trial neared, the attorneys "realized they were incapable of trying the case" and brought in experienced counsel. They failed to advise new counsel of the client's changed story and they scrubbed all file references to the claim against the church.

The case was dismissed after the client was confronted with her false deposition testimony concerning her past criminal record.

The court: is clear that respondents intentionally influenced their client to misrepresent the situs of her accident in order to pursue an action which they knew was fraudulent from its inception. Thereafter, respondents, with full knowledge that they were perpetrating a fraud, commenced an action against an innocent third party, filing papers, such as pleadings, containing misrepresentations with the court. Then, for a over a year, respondents continued to conduct discovery and attend court conferences with full knowledge that the action they were pursuing was based on a misrepresentation which they themselves influenced. When forced to retain trial counsel, respondents not only failed to apprise counsel that their client's accident did not occur where she alleged, but in order to conceal their prior misconduct, they sanitized the case file, removing any evidence as to the accident's actual situs. While respondents never expressly admitted that their behavior was motivated by financial gain, in a case where their legal fee would be determined by the amount they were able to recover for their client, it is clear that respondents engaged in the misconduct alleged and to which they admitted for financial gain and with venal intent.

The Whiplash Willie reference relates to a client that he was interviewing who had slipped on a banana peel in front of Nat's Delicatessen on Euclid Avenue in downtown Cleveland.

Willie: "Couldn't you drag yourself in front of the May Company? From them we can collect!" Then "Maybe we can sue the United Fruit Company."

(Mike Frisch)

May 15, 2013 in Bar Discipline & Process | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

"Street Thug" Argument Draws Reversal

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court reversed a criminal conviction due to the prosecutor's improper closing argument:

Early in his closing argument the prosecutor set the stage with this introduction:

"I would suggest to you that the facts of this case show you at least one thing clearly, and that is how dangerous it is to be a state trooper or to be a police officer. On this date, Trooper Demos stopped a motor vehicle. It was just a routine traffic stop. There are three individuals in that
vehicle. He and Trooper Keane told you about that. He has no way of knowing whether those three people are three people that are just coming from MIT in a study group or if they're three street thugs with guns and drugs, and that's how it turned out on this date" (emphasis added).

The prosecutor developed the "street thug" motif, stating shortly thereafter:

"There's no gray issues here now. You either believe [the Commonwealth's witnesses] or you don't.... You either believe them or you believe the other side. There's nothing in between. Either the gun was planted or the gun was on him. And that's where it was, I'd suggest to you, on the street thug" (emphasis added).

After explaining that the defendant was running away to reach some nearby woods to dispose of the gun and thereby avoid a firearms charge, the prosecutor declared:

"The entire defense in this case, I'd suggest to you, is a sham " (emphases added).

The prosecutor returned to the street thug motif three more times:

"And you'll also see, if you look at that video again, the wad of money in his front pocket. Of course, all us unemployed people have a big wad of money in our pocket. Where's my money? They are street thugs who are out, and what they're going to do with those guns, luckily, we didn't get a chance to find out" (emphases added).

Later, the prosecutor interjected:

"It's the arrogance of the street thugs that gets you in this case" (emphasis added).

He concluded his argument with the following comments:

"Well, he's not going to beat anything. Nothing. Because the street thugs aren't deciding this case. You are. And the credible evidence, the believable evidence in this case shows that this man had a gun. This man had ammunition. The gun that he had was defaced and he intended to shoot the trooper with it. That's what the credible evidence shows. To disbelieve that, you have to believe that Trooper Demos is lying, Trooper Keane is lying, the off-duty Officer Ellis is lying, Lieutenant Shea is lying, Trooper Arnold's lying, all of these troopers are lying. LeBlanc, who you heard from today, he's lying. The whole lot of them.

"The lies here came from there. As you look over all of this evidence, I suggest to you that will be obvious to you that the lies came from this table. And I'm not leaving out the attorney either, the questions that were asked and the way they were posed." (Emphases added.)

The Commonwealth conceded that the argument was "excessive" but claimed lack of prejudice. The court disgreed.

The case is Commonwealth v. Joshua Lewis. (Mike Frisch)

May 15, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Special Needs

The New York Appellate Division for the First Judicial Department has imposed a public censure of an attorney who had mishandled his escrow account. 

The facts:

In 1981, approximately eight years after graduating from law school, respondent started his own firm, a solo practice focusing on education law. Specifically, respondent, whose firm now employs six attorneys and a 20-person support staff, has specialized in cases where the parents of children with special educational needs seek tuition and/or tuition reimbursement from government entities such as the New York City Department of Education. In June 2008, after the Lawyer's Fund for Client Protection informed the Committee that checks written from respondent's IOLA account, established in 2001, had been dishonored, the Committee commenced a sua sponte investigation.

The Committee's investigation included an audit of respondent's IOLA account for a 10-month month period beginning on September 1, 2007 and ending on June 30, 2008. During the audit period respondent did not keep any records evincing deposits and/or disbursements from his trust account. In fact, respondent admitted that since he opened his law firm in 1981, his accounting system consisted of nothing more than daily calls to his bank to verify the balance in his IOLA account and individual sheets of paper documenting the amounts he received and disbursed to individual clients. The Committee further discovered that during the audit period, respondent routinely disbursed funds from his IOLA account to both himself and his clients in amounts which exceeded that which he and his IOLA account in this manner caused multiple shortfalls in his account, the largest of which was $339,281.49 on April 10, 2008. In order to cover these shortfalls, the Committee learned that during the audit period, respondent would deposit his own personal funds into his IOLA account thereby commingling his personal funds with those within his IOLA account. Lastly, during the audit period, the Committee discovered that respondent would routinely use his IOLA account as a business/personal account, routinely making disbursements therefrom to cover his personal/business expenses. In addition to the foregoing, during the course of its investigation, the Committee learned that since 2001 respondent routinely advanced financial assistance to his clients by providing
them with funds to pay their children's tuition. The funds used for these advances came from respondent's IOLA account, which funds represented legal fees already earned by respondent but which were improperly left within the account.

At the hearing, respondent reiterated the specialized nature of his practice, noting that obtaining the necessary funding from the government to address the special needs of the children whose parents he represents is both complex and frustrating, requiring his advocacy. Respondent testified that his firm handles approximately 1,200 cases per year, 10-15 percent of which are handled pro bono. Respondent attributed the violations of the disciplinary rules charged to ignorance. With regard to misuse of his IOLA account, respondent testified that he had never taken any courses on the proper use of IOLA accounts and was simply employing the accounting practices he had employed since he opened his firm in 1981. With respect to advancing financial assistance to his clients, respondent testified that he was unaware that such practice was proscribed by the disciplinary rules. On this issue respondent stated that he only advanced sums to clients when a decision awarding them tuition had already been issued and would not be appealed. Moreover, respondent testified that he never charged interest to his clients on these advances and only engaged in this practice when his clients would be unable to send their children to school absent his financial assistance. Respondent expressed a great deal of remorse at having violated the disciplinary rules and testified that after being apprised of the charges against him by the Committee he retained ethics counsel and completely overhauled his firm's practices with regard to his IOLA account. Respondent further testified that he also hired an experienced bookkeeper to manage his IOLA account and keep the kinds of records required by the disciplinary rules. Since being apprised that advancing funds to clients is prohibited, respondent has not engaged in such behavior. Lastly, respondent noted that inhis more than 30 years of practicing law, he had never been the subject of any professional discipline nor had his practices ever resulted in an inability to pay his clients all sums awarded to them.

The court concluded that he had acted without venal intent in determining that a suspension was not required:

...we agree with the Panel and find that with regard to the charges alleging that respondent misused his IOLA account, respondent has presented substantial mitigating evidence warranting public censure rather than suspension. Specifically, the record evinces that respondent provides very specialized and scarce legal services for the benefit of children with special needs, that he engages in substantial pro bono work, that he has an unblemished disciplinary record, that he expressed substantial remorse for his misconduct, took corrective measures to ensure that the misconduct does not recur, and that his conduct did not harm any of his clients.

While respondent also admitted liability with respect to the charge alleging that he advanced financial assistance to his clients during the course of the litigation for which he was retained, public censure is nevertheless warranted. The record evinces that respondent's misconduct was precipitated by ignorance and a desire to help his clients fund their children's education rather than a venal intent. Moreover, we find it mitigating that respondent did not profit from the loans he made to his clients.

(Mike Frisch)

May 15, 2013 in Bar Discipline & Process | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Arizona Supremes Read Twitter

In the first bar disciplinary case reviewed under its new procedures, the Arizona Supreme Court reduced a six-month and one day suspension imposed by a hearing panel and instead imposed a suspension of six months.

The effect of the reduced sanction is that the attorney is reinstated without further proceedings at the expiration of the suspension period.

The high profile bar case involved misconduct charges against several Maricopa County prosecutors, one of whom had appealed here.

The court found that the attorney lacked competence, engaged in a conflict of interest by suing her own client and maintained a frivolous RICO case against judges, public officials and others.

The court found her expressions of remorse rang hollow:

And while the disciplinary hearing was ongoing, [the attorney] posted to her personal website and published on her Twitter account another person's column describing the disciplinary proceedings as "nothing but a trumped-up, meritless witch hunt" that unfairly targeted [the attorney] for her conservative views.

The Arizona Republic reported on the proceedings and appeal:

Former Deputy Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Alexander has filed documents with the Arizona Supreme Court appealing her suspension from practicing law.

Her attorney, Scott Zwillinger, also filed notice Friday that he is withdrawing from the case because county officials have decided they will not pay attorneys fees for any appeals of last week's disciplinary actions against Alexander, former County Attorney Andrew Thomas, and former Deputy County Attorney Lisa Aubuchon.

On April 10, Thomas and Aubuchon were disbarred by a three-member Supreme Court disciplinary panel for ethical misconduct during years-long battles with county officials.

Among the disciplinary panel's findings were that they filed criminal charges against a sitting county Superior Court judge without probable cause and that they prosecuted other county officials to burden or embarrass them for political reasons.

Alexander was suspended for six months and a day for her role in a federal civil racketeering lawsuit filed against judges and county officials that the panel deemed to be frivolous and incompetent. Any suspension longer than six months requires an attorney to go through a more rigorous process of being reinstated to the state Bar.

Zwillinger said Alexander planned to base her appeal on a number of issues, including the court's decision to try her under a new system of disciplinary review, rather than the previous method, which depended on a larger panel. She also planned to contest the length of the suspension, Zwillinger said. The independent Bar counsel retained by the Supreme Court recommended only a three-month suspension.

Zwillinger said Alexander likely will also contest the county's decision not to pay further attorneys fees.

(Mike Frisch)

May 14, 2013 in Bar Discipline & Process | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Bookkeeper's Theft Leads To Attorney's Resignation

We are seeing a trend of cases involving discipline for failure to supervise non-lawyer employees.

The New York Appellate Division for the First Judicial Department has accepted an attorney's resignation on these facts:

In respondent's affidavit of resignation, sworn to on January 31, 2013, he acknowledges that there is a pending investigation by the Committee into allegations that he engaged in professional misconduct due to his failure to monitor his escrow account. He admits that he failed to realize that his bookkeeper had misappropriated approximately $46,000 from that account, and that the loss rendered him unable to pay approximately $42,000 in settlement funds owed to a client. He further admits that he did not report his bookkeeper's misfeasance to law enforcement, because he feared the collateral consequences to himself. Additionally, respondent acknowledges in his affidavit that he knowingly assisted his client in concealing the amount of settlement funds due her to protect against her disqualification from various benefits.

The court also ordered restitution. (Mike Frisch) 

May 14, 2013 in Bar Discipline & Process | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Can State Get Access To Appointed Counsel Forms?

The New Jersey Supreme Court has held that the State's subpoena for an indicted defendant's application (with financial information) for court-appointed counsel was properly quashed.

The defendant is indicted for financial crimes. The State's investigation "suggested that defendant owned substantial assets."

The court modified an existing directive to permit disclosure for the purpose of investigating potential false statements of financial status in the future.

The court did not reach the issue whether the attorney-client privilege protect the form from disclosure. In the future, a fact-specific inquiry must be conducted "in accordance with settled principles governing the privilege. (Mike Frisch)

May 14, 2013 in Privilege | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, May 13, 2013

Democratic Conversion Alleged

The North Carolina State Bar has filed a complaint alleging misconduct by an attorney in his capacity as treasurer of a county Democratic Men's Club.

He is alleged to have written a series of checks on the club's account without authority and converting the funds for his own use. (Mike Frisch)

May 13, 2013 in Bar Discipline & Process | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Asking Sherwin-Williams

A recent Rhode Island Supreme Court decision is summarized on the court's web page:

Before this Court is the appeal of Sherwin-Williams Company (Sherwin-Williams) from an order denying its motion for a protective order to prohibit the disclosure of and the use of an internal company document.  Sherwin-Williams argues that the disclosure of that document would offend both the attorney-client privilege and the work-product doctrine.  Not surprisingly, the state maintains that the document is not privileged in any way and, therefore, it is not protected from disclosure.  After reviewing the record, the Court held that Sherwin-Williams met its burden of establishing that the internal company document was factual work product, and that the state failed to meet its burden of establishing that the protected document nevertheless was discoverable because of substantial need and a resulting injustice or undue hardship.  The Court also concluded that Sherwin-Williams did not waive the protection afforded by the work-product doctrine.  Because the Court held that the internal document was shielded from discovery based on the work-product doctrine and that this protection was not waived, it did not reach the claim of attorney-client privilege.

Accordingly, the Court vacated the order of the Superior Court denying Sherwin-Williams’ motion for a protective order and remanded the case to the Superior Court.
In the opinion's introduction, the court quotes from Macbeth, Act V, Scene 5 ("To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow, Creeps in this petty pace from day to day") and laments:  "In a case whose life begins to rival the age of the biblical Methusalah, we are confronted with another anfractuous dispute among the warring parties." (Mike Frisch)

May 13, 2013 in Current Affairs, Privilege | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Accusations Against Judges Draws Lengthy Suspension Recommendation

An Illinois Hearing Board has recommended a suspension of three years and until further order in a case involving an attorneys accusations against several judges.

In one matter, the attorney filed an affidavit to disqualify the judge in a personal injury case that called the judge a "sophisticated scam artist" who did the bidding of the insurance attorney, was "unfair and biased...blinded by prejudice" and had an "unwritten relationship" with the defense attorney.

In another case, he accused a judge of corruption and included this contention:

A system that allows [the judge] an Irish American to disposes [sic] [the client] an African American...just as Dred Scott was dispossessed in 1857 is fundamentally flawed and is provocative.  The system gives a person from Ireland because of race the power and authority to dispossess a person from Ghana, Africa in a courtroom in the United States.

Other accusations were made concerning judges of the Court of Appeals.

And this regarding his conduct at the disciplinary hearing:

Throughout the hearing Respondent appeared visibly frustrated. He was repeatedly unable or unwilling to answer direct questions posed by both counsel for the Administrator and the panel members. Respondent also was unprepared for the hearing as he had not exchanged his exhibits with counsel for the Administrator prior to the hearing as ordered to and did not come to the hearing with copies of his exhibits. Consequently, he had to continually disrupt the hearing to have copies made of documents he intended to offer as exhibits. He also was admonished for continually checking his cellular phone during the hearing.

His defense was that his various allegations were true. (Mike Frisch) 

May 13, 2013 in Bar Discipline & Process | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Paralegal Supervisor Scheme Gets Parish Attorney Suspended

The Louisiana Supreme Court has approved a three-year suspension by consent in a case involving a former Jefferson Parish Attorney who pled to misprison of felony in connected with a scheme to allow the Parish President's ex-wife to be paid as a "paralegal supervisor."

From the FBI report on the employee's plea:

According to the factual basis, from approximately 2003 through her dismissal in 2010, PARKER was paid a salary as a paralegal supervisor, even though she was not qualified, trained, or certified as a paralegal supervisor. Indeed, according to court records, PARKER did no work as a paralegal supervisor and, in fact, the little work she did perform was not paralegal work at all. According to court records, [president] BROUSSARD and [attorney] WILKINSON were aware that PARKER did no work as a paralegal supervisor. PARKER’s salary and her raises were approved and known by WILKINSON who, in turn, was retained by BROUSSARD as the Jefferson Parish Attorney. BROUSSARD also approved of substantial pay raises, from 2004 through 2009, for WILKINSON, the Parish Attorney. According to the factual basis, PARKER committed a misprision of a felony by stealing or committing theft from Jefferson Parish by continuing to accept her salary (because she did not perform any paralegal work) and not reporting such crime to the authorities.

This report from the Times-Picayune. The news report is followed by a number of comments that are quite critical of the disposition. (Mike Frisch)

May 12, 2013 in Bar Discipline & Process | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)