Friday, March 7, 2014
The New York Appellate Division for the First Judicial Department has imposed a censure as reciprocal discipline for a sanction imposed in New Jersey.
Respondent was employed as an associate in several law firms from 1995 through 2010, except for a period between 2002 and 2004, and 2009, when he maintained his license in New Jersey but was not actively practicing, but was active in New York. Since September 27, 2007, respondent was placed on the New Jersey Supreme Court's ineligible list for failure to pay annual registration fees.
In 2009, respondent joined his father in the practice of law at which time his father promised to pay the overdue fees. In 2010, respondent began accepting small matters pending in municipal court, including one case in the West New York, N.J. Municipal Court. For approximately one year, respondent repeatedly failed to appear in court, failed to file the appropriate paperwork, and requested unreasonable adjournments. Respondent ultimately did not comply with various court orders. This behavior led the Presiding Judge to contact the Board of Bar Examiners to determine the status of respondent's law license. When the Judge learned that respondent's license had been "suspended," the matter was referred to the Office of Attorney Ethics (OAE), which assigned the matter to the District Ethics Committee (DEC).
The practice in New Jersey while ineligible was a violation of Rule 5.5(a). The attorney also had failed to inorm New York of the New Jersey sancyion. (Mike Frisch)
Thursday, March 6, 2014
The Florida Supreme Court today issued an opinion holding that unauthorized immigrants are prohibited from seeking admission to practice law in the Sunshine State:
...we answer the Florida Board of Bar Examiners’ question by holding that unauthorized immigrants are ineligible for admission to The Florida Bar. Applicants are required to demonstrate that they are legally present in the United States.
It is so ordered
Justice Labarga "reluctantly" concurred
Based on the foregoing, it is evident that the only barrier to admission to The Florida Bar for Applicant and others similarly situated is 8 U.S.C. §§ 1621(a) and (c). Indeed, in many respects, Applicant’s life in the United States parallels my own. He and I were brought to this great nation as young children by our hardworking immigrant parents. We both learned to read, write, and speak the English language within a short period of time. We excelled scholastically and graduated from college and law school—Applicant from Florida State University and I from the University of Florida. Both of us were driven by the opportunities this great nation offered to realize the American dream. Sadly, however, here the similarities end and the perceptions of our accomplishments begin. When I arrived in the United States from Cuba in 1963, soon after the Cuban Missile Crisis—the height of the Cold War—my parents and I were perceived as defectors from a tyrannical communist regime. Thus, we were received with open arms, our arrival celebrated, and my path to citizenship and the legal profession unimpeded by public policy decisions. Applicant, however, who is perceived to be a defector from poverty, is viewed negatively because his family sought an opportunity for economic prosperity. It is this distinction of perception, a distinction that I cannot justify regarding admission to The Florida Bar, that is at the root of Applicant’s situation. Applicant is so near to realizing his goals yet so agonizingly far because, regrettably, unlike the California Legislature, the Florida Legislature has not exercised its considerable authority on this important question. Thus, only reluctantly do I concur with the majority decision.
An attorney who had converted entrusted funds should be suspended for a year, with six months stayed on probation, according to a recent report of the Illinois Review Board.
The attorney had settled a wrongful death claim for estates of two people killed in a fire for $90,000. He escrowed the settlement and properly paid out over $80,000. The rest remained in escrow because he was unable to locate two heirs.
The money stayed, the balance slipped below the amount due the remaining heirs.
When inquiries were made, the attorney's initial response was not true. When subsequent inquiries were not responded to, a complaint was filed with the ARDC.
Practice Pointer I:
This complaint likely could have been avoided if the attorney had been responsive to the concerns of the heirs and arranged to pay what was due.
Practice Pointer II:
If someone goes to the Bar to complain, don't do this:
Throughout the investigation, and in discovery after the Complaint against Respondent was filed, Respondent denied he converted the settlement proceeds. Prior to hearing, he claimed to the Chair that the proceeding against him was "frivolous" and that the bank had made errors which caused a technical conversion by wrongly transferring money from his client fund account to cover overdrafts in his other accounts. At hearing, Respondent conceded that the funds were used for his business and personal expenses without authorization from Rhodes and Scott. However, he continued to blame the conversion on the bank's transfers of funds from his client fund account to his other accounts. He testified that he did not authorize the transfers and did not notice them at the time. However, these bank transfers occurred in 2010 and 2011, after the account balance had already occasionally dipped below the amount Respondent was supposed to be holding and after he had been informed that Rhodes and Scott had not been paid.
Respondent had significant debts and was under a good deal of financial pressure at the time of the conversions: creditors had initiated legal action, his home was in foreclosure, he had financial obligations arising from his divorce, he took out numerous loans, and his personal and business account was overdrawn on occasion.
The board found that the conduct involved dishonesty.
There are places where findings like that can get a lawyer disbarred. (Mike Frisch)
Wednesday, March 5, 2014
The New York Appellate Division for the Second Judicial Department has ordered a suspension of six months for the following misconduct
Charge one alleges that the respondent "made a materially false statement and/or deliberately failed to disclose a material fact" requested in connection with his application for admission to the Bar, in violation of rule 8.1 of the Rules of Professional Conduct (22 NYCRR 1200.0). In or about December 2010, the respondent filed an application for admission to the Bar of the State of New York with the Committee on Character and Fitness for the Second Judicial Department, dated and notarized on November 30, 2010. On that application, the respondent answered "No" to the following question:
"12. Have you ever, either as an adult or a juvenile, been cited, arrested, taken into custody, charged with, indicted, convicted or tried for, or pleaded guilty to, the commission of any felony or misdemeanor or the violation of any law, except minor parking violations, or been the subject of any juvenile delinquency or youthful offender proceeding?"
The respondent knew at the time he completed and filed his Bar application that, on or about April 22, 2008, in the Criminal Court of the City of New York, Kings County, he had pleaded guilty to driving while intoxicated in violation of Vehicle and Traffic Law § 1192(3), an unclassified misdemeanor.
In view of the evidence adduced, and the respondent's admissions, the Special Referee properly sustained the charge. Accordingly, the Grievance Committee's motion to confirm the report of the Special Referee is granted.
In mitigation, the respondent asks the Court to consider the following circumstances: his relative young age; his cooperation with the Grievance Committee; his sincere remorse; the fact that he has learned from his mistake and presents no risk of engaging in misconduct in the future; the fact that he overcame his personal and family circumstances as a refugee from Ukraine; and his excellent reputation as an honest and ethical attorney.
Notwithstanding the above mitigating factors, the respondent failed to disclose his arrest or conviction on more than one occasion. He not only failed to disclose his conviction on his application to the Bar, but he failed to disclose his arrest on his application to Thomas Cooley School of Law, and failed to disclose his conviction on his application to transfer to Hofstra Law School. The respondent testified that he knew that his conduct at the time to be ethically and morally wrong, but that he really wanted to gain admission to law school, and also feared that disclosure of his conviction would result in a denial of his application for admission to the Bar. The Court considers these multiple omissions to be an aggravating factor.
Lesson: tell the truth on law school and bar admission applications. (Mike Frisch)
The censure order of the North Carolina State Bar Grievance Committee of the attorney "who employed other attorneys' names and names of law firms in a keyword advertising campaign through GoogleAdWords program" is linked here.
On April 27, 2012, the North Carolina State Bar Ethics Committee published 2010 Formal Ethics Opinion 14, which states that an attorney's purchase or use of another attorney's name in an Internet search engine's keyword-advertising program is dishonest and therefore violates Rule 8.4( c) of the Rules of Professional Conduct. After the publication of this ethics opinion, you continued to intentionally add inappropriate keywords to your Google AdWords advertising campaign; your inappropriate keywords consisted of other individual attorney names (including attorney nicknames), names of law firms, and names of judicial officials.
Although you claimed that any inclusion of inappropriate keywords in your advertising campaign was inadvertent and was the result of your bulk-purchase of keywords suggested by Google, your history of keyword purchases demonstrates that you specifically selected and approved a number of these keywords for inclusion in your advertising campaign.
It is your duty to scrutinize all keywords prior to adding the keyword to your advertising campaign, regardless of whether you created the keyword or whether the keyword was suggested to you. Your intentional inclusion of other attorneys' names and law firms in your keyword advertising campaign is dishonest...
It is somewhat noteworthy that the attorney was suspended from practice in 1993 for charging telephone calls to adult entertainment numbers to the Guilford County Courthouse to the tune of over $8,700.
He was convicted of a criminal offense as a result. (Mike Frisch)
Monday, March 3, 2014
A report from the March 2014 California Bar Journal
A Berkeley defense attorney must surrender her law license for two years for smuggling documents out of jail on behalf of a defendant later convicted in the notorious murder of Oakland journalist Chauncey Bailey. Lorna Patton Brown [#133795], 67, was suspended for four years, stayed, placed on three years’ probation and ordered to take the MPRE and comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court. The order took effect Jan. 5, 2014.
Brown initially stipulated to two counts of misconduct related to her representation of accused murderer Yusuf Bey IV, but the California Supreme Court returned the matter for further consideration as to the recommended discipline.
In concluding that Brown’s behavior warranted more than the six-month period of actual suspension she stipulated to, State Bar Court Judge Pat McElroy wrote that Brown committed acts involving concealment and dishonesty and that she “knew she should not have been relaying personal messages from her client without the permission of jail authorities.
“Respondent willfully ignored her duties as an attorney, as well as the health and safety of the witnesses who planned to testify against her client. And when the District Attorney’s Office began investigating the matter and questioned respondent about her actions, she lied,” McElroy wrote in her decision. “All told, the ramifications of respondent’s misconduct could have been devastating.”
Brown was appointed in August 2009 as counsel for Bey, who was indicted on three counts of murder, after Bey’s previous attorney withdrew from the case because he was unable to control his client. Brown’s misconduct sprang from a March 2010 visit she made to Bey at Santa Rita Jail in Dublin, during which he gave her legal documents. The papers included grand jury and witness interview transcripts and a card addressed to his common-law wife, Alaia Bey. The card contained written material that Brown should have not taken from the jail without first getting permission.
A couple of days later, Brown met Bey’s sister-in-law Aisha Taylor on a street corner, where she gave her documents in manila envelopes, including the card for Alaia and a list of witnesses’ names Brown placed in an envelope so Taylor could pass them along to Bey’s “number one soldier” Gary Popoff. Authorities learned about the documents from a confidential informant and recovered the envelopes from Popoff shortly after Taylor gave them to him.
When first interviewed by investigators from the district attorney’s office, Brown denied removing the documents from the jail without permission. She said she did not know about the greeting card and had not helped deliver the witness list to Popoff. Brown asked to be removed from the case later that month over a conflict of interest and ultimately volunteered to be interviewed a second time, during which she admitted to lying.
In mitigation, Brown had no prior record of discipline in 22 years of practicing law, cooperated with the State Bar during the disciplinary investigation and proceedings and showed remorse and a willingness to accept responsibility for her misconduct. She received limited mitigation for testimony from six character witnesses.
Thursday, February 27, 2014
The Arizona Presiding Disciplinary Judge has approved a consent disposition in a case involving the attorney's home mortgage:
For purposes of this agreement the parties agree that Respondent knowingly indicated to a bank in writing that his home had been paid off with "funds derived from real estate investments," when he knew the home was paid off as a result of a mortgage company disbursement error. Respondent knew that the information that he provided would be relied on by the bank.
An aggravating factor was dishonest motive. (Mike Frisch)
Prominent divorce attorney Glenn C. Lewis has been disbarred by the Maryland Court of Appeals.
The court imposed discipline based on findings of misconduct in a Maryland matter.
Lewis had his license revoked in Virginia. The District of Columbia imposed disbarment as reciprocal discipline for the Virginia misconduct.
The Blog of the Legal Times reported on the D.C. sanction
Glenn Lewis, a one-time prominent member of the Washington-area divorce bar, was disbarred yesterday. The order comes several months after the Virginia State Bar stripped him of his law license.
The Virginia disciplinary board found Lewis took fees from clients without doing work he was hired for, mishandled client funds and failed to keep required financial records, among other charges. The Virginia State Bar revoked his license in May.
On October 17, the District of Columbia Court of Appeals disbarred Lewis, citing the Virginia decision. According to yesterday's order, Lewis did not respond to a previous court order asking him why it shouldn't disbar him...
...Before the disciplinary proceedings, Lewis was a well-known member of the bar when it came to family law matters. The Washington Post reported he once said in an interview that he was the most expensive lawyer in the region, charging $850 per hour for his services. In 2004, the Virginia State Bar’s family law section gave him a lifetime achievement award.
Losing the license to practice law in the entire D.C. Metropolitan area qualifies as a very different lifetime achievement award. (Mike Frisch)
The Indiana Supreme Court has ordered an interim suspension of a former deputy prosecutor who pleaded guilty to a federal bribery charge.
RTV6ABC has a report on the circumstances
David Wyser, 53, will plead guilty to federal bribery charges involving a 1991 murder case in which a woman was originally sentenced to 110 years in prison, but had her sentence dramatically reduced after her father donated thousands to Brizzi's and Wyser's campaigns.
Paula Willoughby was convicted in a murder-for-hire plot to kill her husband, Darrell Willoughby, after prosecutors said she and her lover, Douglas Steuber, paid a man $700 to kill Darrell Willoughby.
Paula Willoughby was sentenced to 110 years in prison, and, on appeal, the Indiana Supreme Court reduced her sentence to 70 years.
In June 2009, the sentence was modified to 40 years, a move agreed to by Brizzi's office, and Paula Willoughby was released in July 2009 for time served.
But from 2006 to 2008, prior to the sentence modification, Willoughby's father, Harrison Epperly, donated $29,000 to the Brizzi campaign and gave $2,500 to Wyser's failed campaign for Hamilton County prosecutor, records show.
Jenny Lukemeyer, who was Paula Willoughby's attorney at the time, also held a fundraiser for Wyser at her home that raised $2,500.
Indiana Lawyer had this report. (Mike Frisch)
A Louisiana Hearing Board has recommended that ethics charges against the spokesperson of the Orleans Parish District Attorney's Office be dismissed.
At issue were comments in the wake of a not guilty verdict issued by a judge in a high-profile public corruption case.
The spokesperson commented shortly thereafter to a Times-Picayune reporter:
District Attorney Cannizzaro has fought to eliminate corruption, and unfortunately [Judge] Arthur Hunter thwarted our efforts today.
The bar complainant: Judge Arthur Hunter.
Both parties presented credible witnesses who appeared sincere in their beliefs that the statement either was, or was not, intended as a personal criticism of Judge Hunter. The significance of the statement made by the Respondent is something about which reasonable persons could disagree, however, it is the burden of the [Office of Disciplinary Counsel] to prove a violation by clear and convincing evidence. In this case, it is the opinion of the committee that ODC has not met its burden.
The committee found that the hasty comment "is not condoned" but that it was not knowingly or recklessly false. (Mike Frisch)
Wednesday, February 26, 2014
An attorney who had practiced since 1988 years without a bar complaint made his first disciplinary offense a huge one.
He was disbarred by the Maryland Court of Appeals for misappropriation, false statements and dishonesty.
The court affirmed findings that the attorney had engaged in a seven-year pattern of misappropriation of estate funds facilitated by a series of false statements to a probate court.
Given the dishonesty, and notwithstanding his clean record and significant community activities, the court rejected his plea for an indefinite suspension and imposed the ultimate sanction.
Practice pointer: The trouble all started with an overdraft notice to Bar Counsel resulting from a bounced escrow check. (Mike Frisch)
A recent case involving disciplinary charges against a North Carolina attorney raises an interesting issue regarding alleged unauthorized practice of law.
The State Bar's complaint states that the attorney was suspended from practice in North Carolina as a result of an earlier bar disciplinary complaint. It alleges that, while suspended, she represented a client in connection with the settlement of an insurance claim in Alabama.
The State Bar alleges that this constituted unauthorized practice.
The attorney's answer to the allegations denies any misconduct. Rather, the answer contends that the attorney assisted her nephew in an attempt to resolve an insurance claim without any expectation of compensation.
The answer contends that such assistance does not violate Alabama rules that govern the unauthorized practice of law. (Mike Frisch)
The North Carolina State Bar has filed charges against a former elected district attorney convicted of misconduct while in office.
JDNews.com reported on the offense
The former top prosecutor for part of southeastern North Carolina is pleading guilty to a misdemeanor charge that he neglected his duties by allowing an assistant to claim millage for her daily commute.
Former District Attorney Rex Gore pleaded guilty Monday in a plea deal that includes giving up his law license for six months. He was charged with a felony.
The former DA for Brunswick, Columbus and Bladen counties said he agreed to pay former assistant district attorney Elaine Kelley to commute hundreds of miles between her home and work.
Kelley was accused of claiming false business travel expenses. She pleaded guilty and repaid the state more than $14,000 she received for mileage.
Gore was district attorney for nearly 20 years until he lost the 2010 Democratic primary.
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
A disciplinary order is summarized on the web page of the North Carolina State Bar:
David J. Turlington III of Boone was censured by the Grievance Committee. Turlington employed other attorneys' names and names of law firms in a keyword advertising campaign through Google's AdWords program. He continued this practice after publication of 2010 FEO 14, which states that an attorney's purchase or use of another attorney's name in an Internet search engine's keyword advertising program is dishonest. The committee also found Turlington knowingly made a false statement of material fact by claiming the inclusion of inappropriate keywords was inadvertent.
An attorney who had two alcohol-related driving incidents prior to his 2009 bar admission picked up another charge after his admission.
The ensuing conviction involved what the court characterized as a "wet reckless" offense.
The California State Bar Court Review Department rejected his contention that the post-admission incident formed no basis for professional discipline and ordered a public reproval:
Importantly, Bravo was on notice that alcohol-related driving convictions are of serious concern to the State Bar because his second conviction impeded his admission to the Bar. Even so, he continued to drink and drive illegally, evidencing a lack of respect for the legal system and an alcohol abuse problem. The criminal court imposed punishment for Bravo’s crime; professional discipline is also warranted. We affirm the hearing judge’s order for a public reproval with conditions as the proper discipline under Kelley to protect the public, the courts, and the legal profession.
The State Bar sought a 30-day suspension. A dissent would impose that sanction. (Mike Frisch)
From the web page of the Tennessee Supreme Court
In a unanimous Opinion released today, the Tennessee Supreme Court affirmed the disbarment of a Memphis attorney from the practice of law for violating multiple Tennessee Rules of Professional Conduct in his representation of clients.
George E. Skouteris, Jr. represented clients in connection with personal injury lawsuits. In six cases between 2007 and 2011, Mr. Skouteris failed to safeguard his clients’ funds in his attorney trust account after settling their cases. Acting on complaints from Mr. Skouteris’s former clients, the Board of Professional Responsibility conducted an investigation into Mr. Skouteris’s alleged misconduct. The Board ultimately filed petitions for discipline alleging violations of 13 of the Rules of Professional Conduct.
After conducting a hearing and considering evidence that Mr. Skouteris had failed to safeguard his clients’ settlement funds in multiple instances, a board panel disbarred Mr. Skouteris from the practice of law and conditioned any future reinstatement of his law license on his making restitution to two clients who still had not received their settlement funds. Mr. Skouteris appealed to the Shelby County Chancery Court, which affirmed the board panel’s sanction. Mr. Skouteris then appealed to the Tennessee Supreme Court, alleging multiple procedural irregularities in the proceedings.
In the Opinion authored by Justice Sharon G. Lee, the Supreme Court found that the board panel’s decision to disbar Mr. Skouteris from the practice of law was not arbitrary, was supported by the evidence, and that any procedural errors were of no consequence due to the extent and severity of Mr. Skouteris’s misconduct. The Court determined that disbarment was appropriate in light of Mr. Skouteris’s prior disciplinary history, which includes a public censure and two private admonitions, and because misuse of client funds for any period of time is a serious ethical violation.
Read the Court’s Opinion in George Ernest Skouteris, Jr. v. Board of Professional Responsibility, authored by Justice Lee.
Monday, February 24, 2014
A Hot Springs, Arkansas attorney has been suspended on an interim basis by the Arkansas Supreme Court based on a "great public harm" petition.
The Columbus, Indiana Republic noted the suspension
The Arkansas Supreme Court has suspended the law license of Hot Springs attorney Andrea Davis, with whom Attorney General Dustin McDaniel admitted having an extramarital relationship.
A lawyer for Davis said Friday she won't contest the suspension for the time being and that her first priority is getting "her life in order."
Arkansas Business reports (http://is.gd/DdwDui ) the interim suspension order didn't list a reason why she was disciplined.
Court records show Davis is charged in Garland County with two counts of felony theft by receiving and five misdemeanor counts of contempt of court.
The suspension could run from 90 days to indefinitely.
In 2012, McDaniel admitted having an inappropriate relationship with Davis, prompting him to drop out of the governor race.
The court order is linked here. (Mike Frisch)
The Kentucky Supreme Court has denied reinstatement of a disbarred attorney, rejecting the support of Bar Counsel and the Character and Fitness committee as a basis to allow the attorney to resume practice
Though the Character and Fitness Committee was persuaded that Doan had made the requisite showings, this Court must instead agree with the Board of Governors in this instance. Apparently the Committee (and now the Office of Bar Counsel) believe that future safeguards—the conditions to be placed on Doan's reinstatement—would be sufficient to make up for any deficiencies in his proof. But that is not enough. Once reinstated, Doan would be a full member of the bar, with all the rights and privileges enjoyed by other members. Like all other members, he is required to show fitness for those rights and privileges before they can be bestowed. Conditional admissions, while sometime used, are no substitute for the ex ante reinstatement process.
The misconduct that led to disbarment was quite serious and included forging a judge's name on a purported court order. (mike Frisch)
A suspension of not less than two years without automatic reinstatement was imposed by the Indiana Supreme Court for ethics violations in several matters.
Here's one that may catch your eye
When moving his office location in 2009, Respondent threw several client files containing confidential client information into a trash bin, where they remained for several days. A newspaper reporter found information in the files relating to paternity and divorce cases, as well as Social Security numbers and financial records.
He mishandled bankruptcy matters and had local judges who testified as to his practice deficiencies
Judges before whom Respondent practices gave detailed testimony regarding Respondent's deficiencies in 16 different cases. They testified that Respondent has consistently practiced far below the average level of performance for attorneys in Elkhart County, that he has failed to respond to attempts by the judges to help him improve his deficiencies, that he failed to follow through with an agreement to contact the Indiana Judges and Lawyers Assistance Program ("JLAP") for an assessment, that Respondent's deficiencies have created a tremendous amount of trouble for court staff, and that his conduct hurts his clients and the court system. One judge testified that Respondent shows "a complete lack of respect for diligence and represent clients, professionalism and . . . an utter disregard of court orders.
The Goshen News reported his reaction to the court's order.
The article notes that the attorney's issues started with trash talk
Lehman’s conduct first came into the public eye in April 2009, when the then-owner of Constant Spring, 219 S. Main St., which is next to Lehman’s office, found legal papers in the bar’s Dumpster. The owner, Jason Oswald, told The News that he complained to Lehman about him using his Dumpster and asked for $40 from Lehman for the cost of emptying the trash container. Lehman agreed to pay the fee. In that article Lehman said he was sorry for the incident and had disposed of the files, thinking they would be taken to a landfill. He was clearing old files while moving his office from Main Street to Clinton Street.
The Illinois Review Board has held that an attorney's conversion of entrusted funds was dishonest.
The facts in this matter are not in dispute and are set out in greater detail in the Hearing Board's Report. In summary, in 2010 Respondent represented the seller in a residential real estate transaction. In October 2010, Respondent received a $1,000 check from the potential buyer to be held in escrow as earnest money. Respondent took the check with the understanding that he was to keep the $1,000 in escrow for the benefit of the buyer and seller. Instead, he gave the check to his father and his father deposited the check into his father's personal bank account. Respondent did not maintain a checking account or a client fund account. His father spent the $1,000, by depositing the check and using the proceeds. Respondent testified that over time, his father gave Respondent the proceeds and Respondent used the money for his own business and personal purposes.
Given the undisputed facts, Respondent engaged in the conversion of the escrow funds. The conversion was knowing, not inadvertent. Respondent took no steps to segregate the escrow money; he gave the money to his father. Accordingly, this conversion can be distinguished from those cases cited by the Hearing Board where the attorneys converted client funds by depositing the money for safekeeping and later inadvertently, or through sloppy bookkeeping, used the funds. Cf., In re Timpone, 157 Ill.2d 178, 195, 623 N.E.2d 300 (1993); In re Mulroe, 2011 IL 111378 pars. 22-23. Here, Respondent knew he was not safekeeping the funds when he gave the check to his father. We find that, as a matter of law, Respondent's conversion was dishonest, and he violated Rule 8.4(c).
The board recommended as discipline a four-month suspension followed by probation for a year. If the probation is vuiolated, the board would recommend suspension until further court order. (Mike Frisch)