Monday, June 11, 2018

Side Switching, Other Misconduct, Draws Suspension

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has imposed a suspension of one year based on an attorney's consent to discipline.

One count involved the attorney's representation of a complainant who had alleged that she was the victim of a sexual assault at Swarthmore College. The attorney reached out to her and another student activist.

The complainant responded "I hire you!" and they engaged in extensive communications on Facebook, through 41 emails and other contacts. He assured her that their communications were confidential. .

The attorney assisted her and a number of other Swarthmore students in drafting a class complaint filed with the Department of Education Office of Civil Rights.

ThinkProgress reported on the OCR complaint. Inside Higher Education noted Swarthmore's response. 

One of the other students bringing the class complaint was Jane Doe (complainant #7) who alleged that Juan Doe had sexually assaulted her on September 10, 2011.

The complainant terminated the attorney by email in June 2013.

In 2015, he filed a civil action on behalf of Juan Doe in a federal district court against Swarthmore. He used extensive  information provided in confidence by the complainant in a section of the lawsuit captioned

The Angry Feminist Cabal Within Swarthmore's OCR And Cleary Complaint Against Juan

The complaint alleged that Jane Doe's accusations were false and made a number of statements harshly critical of the complainant (called student activist #1 in the complaint).

The federal court ordered disqualification as the matter was the same or substantially related to his prior representation of complainant and Jane Doe. 

He made misrepresentation to the Office of Disciplinary Counsel in response to the complaint by stating that the judge had found no conflict.

He also admitted misconduct in unrelated matters involving his representation of his mother.

Editor's note: I mistakenly added a day to the suspension. In Pennsylvania, an attorney suspended for more than a year must petition for reinstatement. (Mike Frisch)

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