Friday, May 14, 2021

What A Difference A Day Makes

The Louisiana Supreme Court has suspended an attorney for misconduct in the course of representing a client seeking to overturn his previous concession of paternity

The heartland of respondent’s misconduct is her violation of Rule 8.2, which prohibits a lawyer from making a statement that the lawyer knows to be false or with reckless disregard as to its truth or falsity concerning the integrity of a judge. It is clear respondent was frustrated that her client did not obtain the relief to which she believed he was legally entitled. It is an unfortunate fact that in many instances, litigation leaves one of the parties and its counsel disappointed by the outcome. However, this does not give an attorney license to make unsupported and reckless allegations of collusion and conspiracy on the part of the judges who participated in the matter. Rather, lawyers are expected to be professionals and to honor their obligations to the legal system and to the profession. Respondent failed to do so, and for this misconduct, she must be sanctioned.

Based on this reasoning, and considering respondent’s complete lack of remorse, we find the board’s recommended sanction is appropriate. Accordingly, we will suspend respondent from the practice of law for one year and one day.

Chief Justice Weimer would suspend one less day

Zealous advocacy must be tempered with the obligation of an attorney to serve as an officer of the court.

I note the hearing committee listed as mitigating factors no prior disciplinary record and the absence of a dishonest or selfish motive. The Disciplinary Board agreed with the mitigating facts described by the hearing committee and additionally found the Respondent has a good character or reputation. I believe the sanction of a one-year suspension recommended by the hearing committee would serve the ends of justice.

A contrary view of Justice Crichton explains the significance of the additional day

After receiving an unsuccessful result for her client, and without a scintilla of evidence but her own incompetent representation, respondent launched a public and defamatory tirade against several individuals, including members of the judiciary, alleging that they “maneuvered… colluded…and conspired” to commit nefarious acts against her and her client. By filing a lawsuit in U.S. District Court, then seeking review in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit and later the Supreme Court of the United States, again with zero evidence, she exacerbated the actual damage to the named individuals, costing them resources and stress, and impugning both the legal profession and judiciary.

Compounding her misconduct, respondent has refused to acknowledge the wrongfulness of her actions and has displayed no remorse. Even during oral arguments before this Court, she was obtuse at best in her response to repeated inquiries regarding what, if any, evidence of this alleged collusion was in the record. Quite simply, there is none. At a minimum, and extending respondent the benefit of the doubt, she made these statements with reckless disregard. From an objective standpoint, however, the statements asserted in the Federal courts are patently false. Either way, the Office of Disciplinary Counsel has proven a violation of Rule 8.2(a) by clear and convincing evidence...

I wholeheartedly concur in the Court’s imposition of a full suspension from the practice of law for one year and one day, necessitating her reapplication to this Court, should she choose to do so.

Have always loved the Dinah Washington version. (Mike Frisch)

Bar Discipline & Process | Permalink


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