Friday, September 6, 2019

Attorney Who Cited Internet Research To Support Discriminatory Statements Reprimanded

The New Jersey Supreme Court has reprimanded an attorney for discriminatory statements made to a medical malpractice defendant and his counsel in email and by letter.

Email to the doctor

respondent sent an e-mail to Dr. Huang, stating "I have read your letter. The only thing I can suggest is that you are either: delusional, a pathological liar, in denial, a psychopath, or all of the above."

Excerpt of letter to counsel

I am/was not a student of Chinese culture. So I did a little research and found that "In fact, lying to achieve some business or social aim, and getting away with it, is considered to be a sign of intelligence and social skill among many Chinese." See/25/ o-the-chinese-lie-that-depends/. Also, in the Chinese culture, "lying has become a means to an end." See http ://Ezine Articles. com/1435598.

The Disciplinary Review Board found the Rule 8.4(g) violation

The DEC determined that the evidence supported the charges that respondent violated RPC 8.4(g). Specifically, the DEC found no dispute that respondent had authored both the July 24, 2013 e-mail and the October 13, 2013 letter; that the statements made by respondent therein were "discriminatory in nature in that they were directed at [Dr. Huang] in a derogatory manner based upon his national origin;" and that the evidence did not support respondent’s contention that the cited articles were written by "experts," and, thus, excused or mitigated his conduct.

...respondent’s statements in the October 2013 letter were written in his professional capacity, during the course of the civil litigation between Ciccone and Dr. Huang. The statements are discriminatory and demeaning on their face, ascribing misrepresentations purportedly made by Dr. Huang directly to his Chinese heritage. Respondent’s asserted defenses -- that he is not racist, and that he is absolved of any misconduct because he relied on "expert opinions" in the submitted internet articles -- are wholly specious and unworthy of serious consideration. Indeed, as the DEC hearing panel noted, the articles on which respondent relied were merely "opinion pieces found on the internet, without any indication of the credentials of the respective authors." The panel continued,  "[t]he mere existence of an opinion online does not establish its author as an expert. If it did, every post on Twitter or Facebook would constitute expert opinion." Before us, respondent repeatedly characterized the author of those article as "experts," despite the lack of support for that position.


Here, in his professional capacity, respondent made demeaning, discriminatory statements regarding Dr. Huang. In aggravation, in 2012, he received an admonition for engaging in a conflict of interest. Worse, respondent has shown no remorse for his conduct. Indeed, he continues to defend it. We, therefore, determine to impose a reprimand for his violation of RPC 8.4(g).

(Mike Frisch)

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