Friday, October 8, 2010

Snakes In A Court

The Kansas Supreme Court has disbarred an attorney for a series of incidents that reflected a rather profound civility deficit.

In one matter in the Shawnee Municipal Court, the attorney told a court clerk to tell a prosecutor to "get his ass in the courtroom." He later told a clerk that he wanted to "f***ing" file his papers and called a clerk a "f***ing bitch," who had better do what he told her to do. He was charged with and failed to appear on a resulting charge of disorderly conduct. He later served four days in jail.

In another matter, the attorney set off a magnetometer alarm when entered the Kansas City, Kansas federal courthouse. He refused to go through a second time and "began shouting profanities at the court security officers." There was a struggle and a deputy marshal received minor injuries. The attorney pleaded guilty to failing to comply with official signs and the directions of a federal officer. The article at this link describes the incident.

A third matter involved "abusive and bizarre behavior" in a state circuit court matter. He made accusations of corruption against the judge, stating that the "proceeding was a joke" and that the judge was "going to sit [his] ass up there." At a resumed hearing, he asked the judge whether he was a pedophile and stated to the judge that "you're going to sit up there with the audacity and the smugness of your holiness." These and related comments resulted in an 120 day jail sentence for contempt.

In another matter in Grandview Municipal Court, he began to yell at a bailiff who had asked him to keep his voice down and move to an area made available for attorney-client meetings. The attorney told the bailiff to get out of his face and that he could stand wherever he wanted. When he was held in contempt, he stated "all you guys in Grandview you are all snakes, that's all you are." In a proceeding two days later in the same court, he yelled "I'm back in Grandview. All the snakes are back again."

The court quoted the Hearing Panel:

...Respondent's conduct resulted in two criminal convictions, a contempt adjudication that lead to 120 days in jail, minor injuries to a United States Marshal, and an adverse impact on a [client's] military career. The Respondent's treatment of court staff and the judiciary was far below any acceptable standard. The Respondent's conduct caused a negative public perception of the legal profession. Finally, the Hearing Panel cannot ascribe any good cause, justifiable reason or mitigating factor to the Respondent's conduct in this case.

The military case mentioned in the above passage involved criminal charges against a member of the National Guard. The attorney was appointed to the military case; the family retained an experienced criminal lawyer for the criminal case. The attorney entered his appearence in the criminal case without being retained and caused a negotiated plea to break down. He also sought a fee for that matter. In the military case, he abused officers in his client's chain of command.

The court adopted the findings of the hearing panel, which included the client-related misconduct as well as the incidents described above. (Mike Frisch)

Bar Discipline & Process | Permalink

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