Thursday, February 12, 2015
The Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board has proposed a year and a day suspension of an attorney charged with using the internet and social media to disparage two judges.
The hearing committee found
Respondent used the internet and social media in an effort to influence Judge Gambrell's and Judge Amacker's future rulings in pending litigation. Respondent's conduct threatened the independence and integrity of the court and was clearly prejudicial to the administration of justice.
Respondent also used her Twitter account to publish multiple tweets linking the audio recordings of the minor children discussing alleged sexual abuse; to publish false, misleading and inflammatory information about Judge Gambrell and Judge Amacker, and to promote the online petition, all of which was designed to intimidate and influence the judges' future rulings in the underlying proceedings.
Respondent knowingly if not intentionally embarked on a campaign using internet, social media and ex parte communication specifically designed to intimidate and to influence the judges' future rulings in pending litigation. Her online campaign to influence judges in pending litigation threatened the independence and integrity of the judiciary. Respondent's conduct also caused the personal safety.
The board here found that the attorney did not violate the ex parte contact rule but otherwise affirmed the hearing committee's conclusions.
In the instant matter, Respondent made false and misleading statements on the internet and in pleadings. As demonstrated by the cases cited above, the discipline for similar misconduct ranges from suspensions of six months to twelve months. One troubling fact that distinguishes Ms. McCool’s misconduct from these other cases is that she used the internet and social media to facilitate her misconduct. Consequently, the offending language remains present and accessible on the internet today. Furthermore, Respondent has expressed no remorse for her conduct claiming instead it is protected free speech. In addition, Respondent also directly violated several court Orders by releasing and promoting the aforementioned audio recordings which were part of a sealed court record.