Monday, August 10, 2020

Unwanted Touching Of Colleague Draws One Year Suspension

A criminal conviction for harassment (and the failure to notify the Bar) has resulted in a one year suspension by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

The story is told in the Disciplinary Board report.

The attorney was admitted in 1978 and has no prior discipline.

He represented a defendant in a "drug related" criminal case. 

A.M. was admitted in 2015.

She represented a co-defendant in "one of her first" criminal cases. She sought and received help from the attorney on a motion to quash.

He was "interested in pursuing a romantic relationship" with A.M. He invited her to his boat at the Camden Marina to discuss the motion. 

Once inside the cabin, he took her cell phone and locked the door (which she did not see as a "red flag" because of the "high profile" of the drug case). 

Then he

told her that a prosecutor would claim she traded sex for drugs because "a tall blond criminal defense attorney [would be] perfect for the front page of the Inquirer,"

offered to get her out of the scandal, and

told her he was "hierarchy in Sierra Leone" and if she would "give herself to him 'mind, body and soul' and travel with him to Africa where they would dive into 'black mud'/oil, he would make sure this matter would never come-to-light."

She told him she had brought her boyfriend with her. He touched and kissed her without her consent and she "believed he was trying to rape her."

She got her cell phone back and departed. She was traumatized and considered leaving the legal profession as a result. 

A.M. filed a both a criminal and a bar complaint.

Respondent stood trial and was convicted of harassment. He was sentenced to a $100 fine and neither appealed or reported the conviction.

His reason? His attorney told him it was like a "traffic ticket" or a "parking ticket."

The Disciplinary Board:

A one year period of suspension will make clear to the bar that intentional nonconsensual touching of another, in this case a fellow member of the bar, will not be tolerated .

(Mike Frisch)

Bar Discipline & Process | Permalink


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