Monday, September 8, 2014

"This Is The Lifestyle I've Chosen"

The New Jersey Supreme Court has imposed a three month suspension of an attorney who, among other things, make "sarcastic and sophomoric" statements to opposing counsel in litigation.

The attorney was defending an insurance company in a case involving a residential fire.

He sent a number of offensive emails and a fax to opposing counsel sampled below

"This will acknowledge receopt of your numerous Emails, faxes and letters...In response thereto, Bla Bla Bla Bla Bla Bla Bla."

"Did you get beat up in school a lot?, because you whine like a little girl."

"Why don't you grow a pair?"

"What's that girlie email you have, or something?"

After a chambers conference, the attorney warned opposing counsel never to again threaten him with an ethical complaint. There was some physical contact between the two. When opposing counsel said "Don't touch me," the response:

"Why would I touch a fag like you?"

At the ethics hearing before the District Ethics Committee (DEC), the attorney conceded the impropriety of the above exchanges.

The fighting issue was whether he made a false statement to the tribunal in the fire litigation.

He denied making a knowingly false statement to the judge, claiming at the hearing that his attention was elsewhere:

I neglected my files. I played too much golf, I went to Punta Cana with my family all within two months. Was it wrong? I don't know. This is the lifestyle I've chosen, the practice I've chosen because I worked at [a law firm] for 15 years in a cubical [sic] rising to managing director. I didn't want that anymore. I want to play golf. I do insurance work. I missed it. I screwed up. I had no motivation to lie to the judge about this particular thing...

Am I going to get lazy again and play more golf? I hope so. But I certainly did not intentionally lie to Judge Kassel or intentionally lie to [opposing counsel].

The DEC bought the explanation.

However, the Disciplinary Review Board (DRB) disagreed and found that the evidence established that the attorney made a knowing false statement.

The court adopted the DRB report.

Plenty of time to play golf now. (Mike Frisch)

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