Monday, February 6, 2023

Family Lawyers Feel Threatened

From Washington Post:

After a nine-hour mediation last week, attorney Candace M. Williams returned to her office and started to scroll through dozens of unread emails. One of them — a news alert about a man police say fatally shot his ex-wife’s divorce lawyer — sent her into a panic.

Questions swirled in her mind in her Gainesville, Ga., office: Could something like that happen to her? Were her will and life insurance prepared if it did? Should she buy a gun for protection?

“It was a really stop-in-your-shoes kind of moment,” Williams, 48, told The Washington Post, “where you were really rethinking life.”

Last week, police charged suspect Allen Tayeh, 65 with fatally shooting attorney Douglas Lewis at his Lawrenceville, Ga., law office and then setting the building on fire. Court records show Lewis represented Tayeh’s ex-wife in a divorce case this year. Emily Gilbert, Tayeh’s attorney, declined to comment when reached by email Thursday.

Lewis was alone in his office on Dec. 7, police say. The case has some attorneys — especially those who work contentious divorce and child custody cases — once again worrying for their safety in a field where losses in court can sometimes lead to real-life threats or violence. When Utah attorney Stephen D. Kelson surveyed lawyers between 2006 and 2018, at least 32.5 percent of respondents from 28 states reported they had experienced violence or threats of violence.

“Nobody’s safe,” said Williams, who practices family law. “That’s the bottom line.”

Court documents show a jury approved the Tayehs’ divorce in August, and the court ordered Tayeh in October to pay his ex-wife more than $28,000 in attorney’s fees. On Dec. 1, Lewis wrote in a motion to the court that Tayeh had not paid the fees. Lewis was killed six days later.

Kathryn M. Schrader, an attorney and judge from Duluth, Ga., worked multiple cases with Lewis. The 60-year-old said Lewis was an example of the ideal lawyer: genuine, patient and dedicated to smoothing over conflict. Lewis, who raised three children, also coached local youth sports.

In the last week, Schrader has become vigilant about locking doors and monitoring her office’s camera.


Read more here.

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Posted by: Belli Weil Grozbean and Wright PC | Feb 8, 2023 4:51:17 AM

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