Wednesday, March 14, 2018


The Delaware Supreme Court has found that an attorney's communications violated Rule 4.4(a) on multiple occasions and ordered him to complete a training course with a qualified Human Resources professional approved by the Office of Disciplinary Counsel within six months.

He also has been ordered to refrain from future inappropriate sexual and religious discussions in the course of practicing law.

The behavior - which he had self-dubbed as "Hurleygate" - included "demeaning remarks to and about a former client in three separate letters to the ODC."

He also communicated inappropriately (to put it mildly) with several female and a male Deputy Attorneys General.

He had been warned about his behavior toward female attorneys by a Special Prosecutor in 2007. He responded by a letter to 67 deputy AG's claiming that his "brand of humor" was not unethical and protected as free expression.

He freely expressed to a junior female deputy that "he used to expose himself to girls in a movie theatre and while holding it in his lap and having his thing surrounded by popcorn."

Another letter stated that a female deputy had "no brain wave activity."

A Jewish junior male deputy was called a "certified asshole," should be a "goat herder in Lebanon" and said if he got "anyone to accept his [crackpot ideas] as Torah then I will abide."

Another female deputy was "extraordinarily attractive" and "stir[red] drums of passion." He also called her  "beautiful but arrogant."

 Finally, he called another female deputy "Kurvacious" and "Kooky" with sufficient expertise only to teach yoga. 

The Board of Professional Responsibility found he had no conscious awareness of the inappropriateness of his "ribald" humor and had acted negligently, 

The attorney was admitted in 1970.

Sensitivity training may be insufficient here.

Delaware Online reported that he had served as defense counsel in the high-profile Thomas Capano criminal case.

Defense attorney Joseph A. Hurley vowed he'd take it to his grave.

But he didn't. 

On Friday night, he shared for the first time exclusively with The News Journal why he quit Thomas J. Capano's legal team six months before the October 1998 murder trial began. 

He said it was his moral conscience — not a Capano confession about murdering Anne Marie Fahey, as many had believed. 

Hurley said he had a moment of self-reflection and clarity while attending a funeral Mass at St. Helena's Catholic Church in Penny Hill for public defender James F. McCloskey Jr. on April 6, 1998. 

Hurley said he'd never asked Capano if he killed Fahey after their 1996 date in Philadelphia. 

"I didn't want to ask him and hear the answer," said Hurley, who is highly regarded and has handled numerous high-profile cases since becoming a criminal defense attorney in 1974.

But on that April morning, sitting in a pew at his childhood church, Hurley said, he had a conversation with God.

"I think I was probably facing the reality [Capano] was, in fact, guilty of premeditated murder," Hurley said. 

He left the church, went to see Capano in prison and quit.

No longer considering Capano a friend, Hurley said, he never saw him again.

"Killing a human being? No,” Hurley said. "That's the end of friendship."

Capano was convicted of murdering Fahey in January 1999. He died in 2011 at a prison near Smyrna where he was serving a life sentence. 

"I said I'd take it to my grave,” Hurley explained, "and I would of had [Capano] not reached his before."

His career is chronicled in Super Lawyers. (Mike Frisch)

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