Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Raging Bull In ALL CAPS

A sanction of a six-month and a day suspension followed by two years probation was affirmed by the Arizona Supreme Court.

An attorney who is suspended for more than six months in Arizona must petition for reinstatement. 

Part of any reinstatement requires that

Mr. Wilson shall have completed the CLE titled “Zealous Advocate or Raging Bull? Overcoming Anger in the Legal Environment.”

Let's see why.

A couple had dissolved their relationship and reached a parenting agreement for their two children. One provision allowed each party to have the other submit to testing for alcohol use

The parties also stipulated this was such a major concern that a “suspected violation is a basis for modification of the custody parenting plan.”

Father was arrested for DUI. The kids were in the car. He retained respondent to defend the charges. 

Respondent sent misleading and threatening emails to Mother, leading her to consult with counsel as recounted in the hearing panel report

As summarized in the December 20, 2016 email to Mr. Wilson, on December 19, 2016, attorney Sharolynn Griffiths (Ms. Griffiths) contacted Mr. Wilson by phone on behalf of Ms. York. [Id. at Bates SBA009]. Ms. York was present for most of this phone call. Mr. Wilson knew that Griffiths was an attorney and acting on behalf of York. It was during this telephone conversation that Mr. Wilson intentionally misrepresented to Ms. Griffiths that Mr. Glick was already testing with Pretrial Services for drugs and alcohol as part of the original conditions of his release. [Id.]

Then

At 1:06 p.m., knowing Ms. York had an attorney representing her, Mr. Wilson directly emailed Ms. York threatening and intimidating her again. He intentionally did not copy Griffiths on the email., but instead concluded stating “I am aware you have consulted but not retained counsel.”

When Griffiths sought information about compliance with court testing in the DUI case

On December 21, 2016 at 1:32 p.m., Mr. Wilson sent a long, wildly unprofessional email to Ms. Griffiths. He intentionally communicated with Ms. York by copying her with his email to further his intimidation tactics. [Id. at Bates SBA010-12.] We find the email was unprincipled, threatening, and with no substantial legal or professional purpose except to bully. The rant included capitalized words, soon followed by capitalized sentences, then followed by capitalized sentences that were emboldened. He threatened that he had the power to direct the police to Ms. York’s house, with him present. In capitalized, emboldened print he threatened that he had the power and would,

I WILL PERSONALLY RESPOND WITH THE POLICE TO PURSUE CUSTODIAL INTERFERENCE CHARGES. . . . IF SHE FAILS TO DELIVER THE KIDS ON DECEMBER 25 AT 9AM AND FORCES ME TO COME TO HER HOUSE WITH POLICE, MY LEGAL FEES FOR A CHRISTMAS DAY RESPONSE WILL BE QUITE HIGH, AND AS THIS WARNING COMES 4 DAYS IN ADVANCE, ANY SUCH UNREASONABLE ACTIONS BY HER WILL INDEED RESULT IN HER PAYING THOSE FEES.

Mr. Wilson knew his threats and statements were contrary to the decree and we find them unethical. He acted in intentional disregard of the decree. 

Griffiths secured a sole custody court order and advised him 

At 5:33 p.m. that day, Mr. Wilson emailed Ms. Griffiths further clarifying his intentions and disregard. He asserted, “I will advise Mr. Glick of nothing. You have a court order? I know nothing of that. He postured that Griffiths was “beyond pretentiously ignorant.” He baselessly proclaimed that she had acted “in bad faith in a fraud on the court.” He emphasized that it is “really fun for me” to see lawyers such as Griffiths suspended. Mr. Wilson again intentionally communicated with Ms. York by copying her on his email to further his intimidation. [Id.] At 5:40 p.m., Ms. Griffiths emailed Mr. Wilson demanding he “…stop emailing and/or copying my client on correspondence.” [Id. at Bates SBA036-37.]

Father had the children and Griffiths sought their return to Mother

Mr. Wilson then crafted an email to Griffiths that stated, “AutomatedResponse: Message not delivered to recipient for the following reason(s): Address blocked by addressee.” [Id.] In fact it was not blocked at all.

He sought but failed to quash the order and made false representations.

The Court ultimately ordered Glick have supervised parenting time with the children one day a week and submit to testing before and after each parenting time sessions.

The hearing panel

Mr. Wilson knowingly, if not intentionally, sent unprofessional emails to both York and Griffiths. Mr. Wilson knowingly, if not intentionally copied York on his incessant emails despite knowing that she was represented by counsel. This was in disregard of the ethical rules and professionalism. His conduct had no substantial purpose other than to embarrass or burden York and Griffiths and we find caused actual harm to the profession. Ms. York testified at the aggravation/mitigation hearing that Mr. Wilson’s emails negatively affected her view of attorneys and she remains terrified, with good cause, because Mr. Wilson intended that result.

Dishonesty

Mr. Wilson misrepresented to Ms. Griffiths and Ms. York that Glick was testing with Pretrial Services. At best, he did not know. At worst, he was intentionally untruthful. Mr. Wilson intentionally misrepresented to Ms. Griffiths that her emails were automatically blocked when Mr. Wilson was receiving her emails and then manually writing a response that they had been automatically blocked. On December 21, 2016, Mr. Wilson emailed Griffiths and misrepresented that he did not know that York was her client. [Ex. 10, Bates SBA000036.] Mr. Wilson knew that, the day before, Griffiths told Mr. Wilson that she represented York on a limited basis. [Ex. 2, Bates SBA000009-10.] Further, the circumstances  of his own “courtesy,” non-retained status makes his position not credible and convincingly establishes his knowledge that York was being assisted by an attorney.

(Mike Frisch)

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/legal_profession/2019/07/a-six-month-and-a-day-suspension-was-imposed-by-the-arizona-presiding-disciplinary-judge-in-one-matter-on-december-21-201.html

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