Friday, November 17, 2017

The Shank Non-Redemption

An attorney has been suspended for four months by the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

Count one of the amended complaint arose out of an incident that occurred in the course of Attorney Cohen's representation of R.S., who is serving a life sentence for a homicide conviction. On October 18, 2013, Attorney Cohen traveled to the Columbia Correctional Institution to meet with R.S. Attorney Cohen carried with him a black bag containing pens, transcripts, and papers. He also brought a white pastry bag containing two crème-filled donuts and hard boiled eggs. Attorney Cohen informed correctional officers that he had brought his lunch with him.

Attorney Cohen met with R.S. for several hours. At some point correctional officers moved them to a different room. When leaving the room, R.S. threw Attorney Cohen's white pastry bag into a trash container. An officer searched the discarded bag and found a leftover donut and a toothbrush package with the toothbrushes removed. A subsequent search of R.S. and his belongings revealed two toothbrushes and a 1.5 ounce container of McCormick brand red pepper. The toothbrushes and pepper had been secreted by Attorney Cohen into the prison in a legal folder.

According to prison authorities, the toothbrushes were heavier than the ones available to inmates at the prison canteen and could be fashioned into shanks. The authorities also concluded that the crushed red pepper could be made into a pepper spray.

When correctional officers interviewed Attorney Cohen about the items, he denied knowing anything about them.

Three other counts dealt with the representation of another criminal client.

The referee

The referee said he was troubled by the fact that Attorney Cohen did not present any mitigating evidence about the prison incident either at the evidentiary hearing or as part of the stipulation. The referee further said that he was troubled by Attorney Cohen's behavior during the hearing. The referee said, "Attorney Cohen took no responsibility for his actions. He demonstrated no remorse for his actions and demonstrated contempt for the proceedings. Attorney Cohen did not even bring a file to the hearing to assist him in his representation."

...We also agree with the referee that Attorney Cohen's behavior is more egregious than Attorney Mross' furnishing inmates with cigarettes because the contraband delivered to the inmate by Attorney Cohen could have been used as a weapon. In addition, we note that Attorney Mross had no disciplinary history and there were no other counts of misconduct involved. By contrast, Attorney Cohen was previously reprimanded for a misdemeanor disorderly conduct conviction, and in addition to the criminal conviction this case also involves three additional counts of misconduct with respect to Attorney Cohen's representation of C.S.

Costs were also imposed. (Mike Frisch)

Bar Discipline & Process | Permalink


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