Monday, June 13, 2016

I Am The Egg Man

A rather unfunny prank drew a 30-day suspension from the Delaware Supreme Court, which approved a recommendation of its Board on Professional Responsibility in favor of that sanction.

The incident involved a highly experienced Deputy Attorney General of Sussex County who had no record of prior discipline.

On the fateful and busy day of the misconduct (February 4, 2015), he and a number of colleagues were sharing a witness  room in the courthouse while handling a number of cases.

It was a stressful day.

One of his colleagues (Donahue) decided to have some fun with him. They had worked closely together for years and considered themselves to be part of a "band of brothers." They had a history of pranking each other.

The prank started because of the sanctioned attorney 's well-known "aversion to the smell of hardboiled eggs" which caused a gag reflex. There was a running joke in the office over the so-called "hardboiled egg feud."

When the attorney came into the room, Donahue was "eating an egg over his files with additional eggs sitting in his box of files." This caused those in the room to engage in unrestrained laughter.

The attorney's response led to the suspension. He left the room and talked the court's security chief  into entering the room with gun drawn and ordering Donahue to "keep the eggs away from his files."

The security chief (Garrison) succumbed to his importunings. He entered the witness room, pointed his gun at Donahue and uttered the following: "Gelof says keep the eggs away from his files." 

Everyone thought it was quite funny. Except for another law enforcement officer in the room, who at first perceived a threat and reported the incident.

Authorities failed to see the humor. Extensive resources were poured into the ensuing investigation. Garrison had his gun taken away. The attorney was suspended for two months and demoted.

Disciplinary authorities also did not find the conduct funny either.

Earlier coverage from Delaware Online. (Mike Frisch)

Bar Discipline & Process | Permalink


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