Friday, September 20, 2013
Lawyer Suspended from Practice of Law for "Illegal Alien" Reference in Letter to Opposing Counsel and Judge
The ABA Journal reports that an Indiana lawyer has been suspended for 30 days for a comment about the immigration status of his divorce client’s spouse in a letter sent to opposing counsel and the judge in the case. The lawyer, Joseph B. Barker, wrote the letter in 2009 to protest his client’s lack of access to his child, according to the Indiana Supreme Court's Sept. 6 opinion. Barker’s client “told me this week that he has only seen his baby … one day all year,” Barker wrote. “Your client doesn't understand what laws and court orders mean I guess. Probably because she's an illegal alien to begin with. I want you to repeat to her in whatever language she understands that we'll be demanding she be put in JAIL for contempt of court. I'm filing a copy of this letter with the court to document the seriousness of this problem.” (emphasis added).
The Indiana Supreme Court said Barker’s letter violated ethics rules regarding conduct showing bias or prejudice, and conduct with no substantial purpose other than to embarrass, burden or delay a third person. The court noted that "While it is a mitigating fact that Respondent has no disciplinary history, the Respondent's misconduct is aggravated by the fact that he has no insight into his misconduct, he has not apologized to Mother, and he has substantial experience in the practice of law. Under these circumstances, the Court concludes that a period of suspension is required." (emphasis added).