Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Will Blogger Harassment Lead To Bar Discipline?

The ABA Journal has an interesting report on a bar discipline complaint filed by a blogging University of Denver law professor against an Illinois attorney who allegedly had targeted her with racially and sexually offensive posts and comments.

From the ABA Journal report :

In Leong's request for an ethics probe, obtained by the ABA Journal from another source, Leong says dybbuk also wrote two lengthy plays that depicted her using illegal drugs. He wrote posts disparaging her scholarship that described her as "a comely young narcissist" and a "law professor hottie." He has also disparaged other law professors, she says, and, as far as she knows, nearly every one is either a woman or a person of color or both.

Leong says in the letter of complaint that dybbuk's "sexualized comments about my appearance and other disparaging remarks made me concerned for my safety." She says she was relieved to learn he lived in a different state.

"There are over 6,000 tenured and tenure-track law professors in the United States," Leong writes in the complaint, filed with the Illinois Attorney Registration & Disciplinary Commission. "Many of them have less practice experience than I do. Most of them have weaker publishing records than I do. Most of them have weaker teaching evaluations than I do. Almost all of them have been members of the legal academy longer than I have. Almost all of them have more power and prominence than I do. In light of these facts, it is difficult to think of a reasonable explanation for [dybbuk's] obsessive attention to an untenured professor."

James Grogan, chief counsel for the Illinois Attorney Registration & Disciplinary Commission, told the ABA Journal that state supreme court rules bar him from confirming or denying that a probe request was filed. Speaking generally, he said Illinois and a few other jurisdictions have initiated cyberstalking investigations of lawyers in the past. Asked if comments perceived to be denigrating based on race or gender can amount to an ethics violation, Grogan said that's the type of First Amendment issue he discusses with his law students at Loyola University in Chicago.

"When does personal life stop and the ethics code applies?" he asked.

The report does not identify the accused attorney by name.

As we start another semester of teaching professional responsibility, Jim Grogan's question is a pertinent one.

It will be worth watching (as this blog tends to do)  to see if this complaint results in charges against the attorney.

If the complaint does not result in charges, as my erstwhile colleague Brother Grogan aptly notes, we likely will never know.

That is unfortuntate. (Mike Frisch)



Bar Discipline & Process | Permalink

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