Monday, March 5, 2018

A Man's Best Friend

The Georgia Supreme Court disbarred an attorney for misconduct in three matters including his own divorce

The facts underlying SDBD No. 6891 stem from Levine’s actions in and related to his divorce case; Levine represented himself during most of the divorce proceedings. The divorce decree awarded various items of property, including the family dog, to Levine’s wife. Levine repeatedly refused to allow his ex-wife to retrieve these items and challenged the divorce decree in numerous collateral proceedings, most of which stemmed from Levine’s insistence that the dog was a therapy dog that he was entitled to have under the Americans with Disabilities Act. In pursuit of this unwavering belief, Levine filed meritless federal lawsuits against two judges who at different times presided over his divorce action; filed a discrimination complaint against one of the judges; sent a threatening letter to the two judges, with copies to numerous public figures, alleging that the judges had committed heinous crimes and were suffering from psychiatric disorders; filed meritless lawsuits and police complaints against his brother, whom Levine had asked to act on his behalf after Levine was incarcerated for contempt; filed meritless applications for criminal warrants against his ex-wife and others; and filed meritless applications for temporary protective orders and a separate civil action against his ex-wife. Levine was ultimately held in contempt in the divorce action and was incarcerated for three weeks when he continued to defy the court’s orders. To obtain his release, his lawyer negotiated a consent order, which included, at Levine’s mother’s request, a provision for a psychiatric examination.

Before the court

As we understand Levine’s position, he contends that the entry of the sanctions order was improper and that in the absence of a default, he is entitled to offer evidence to counter the factual allegations of the underlying grievances. We agree with the Review Panel, however, that the special master did not err in striking Levine’s pleadings and finding him in default for his willful failure to participate in discovery. Additionally, there was no requirement that the special master enter an order compelling Levine to respond to discovery prior to entering sanctions for his failure to engage in the discovery process...

In addition to the misconduct in the underlying matters, which amply supports disbarment, the record of the disciplinary proceedings and Levine’s filings in this Court strongly support the special master’s belief that Levine is not emotionally or mentally fit for the practice of law. Levine persistently ignored Bar Rules that provide an orderly process for contesting allegations of disciplinary violations and instead made multi-pronged, unauthorized attacks on the disciplinary process. For example, rather than responding to the Bar’s discovery, Levine filed Bar complaints against the Investigative Panel member assigned to investigate the grievances against him and against Bar counsel. After the special master issued the sanctions order finding Levine in default,  Levine filed a motion to stay discovery, a motion to dismiss the disciplinary proceedings, and a notice of appeal of the sanctions order, directed to the Georgia Court of Appeals because the appeal “stems from a trial court’s Order on a Motion.” After the special master issued his report and recommendation, Levine filed a motion to disqualify Bar counsel; a motion to recuse the special master based in large part on the special master’s prior service as a district attorney; and objections to the report and recommendation, attaching thousands of pages of exhibits that were never made a part of the disciplinary record. Before the Review Panel, Levine submitted voluminous pleadings, including a motion to dismiss and a motion to add his ex-wife, his brother, his mother, and one of the judges who presided over the divorce proceedings as parties in the disciplinary proceeding.

Disbarment was warranted for the attorney 's "extraordinary pattern of abuse" of the courts and the disciplinary process. (Mike Frisch)

Bar Discipline & Process | Permalink


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