Wednesday, November 29, 2023

At Risk

The New Jersey Supreme Court has accepted an attorney's consent to disbarment. reported

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit upheld a Pennsylvania lawyer’s embezzlement and fraud charges Monday.

Pennsylvania lawyer and businessman David Shulick owned Delaware Valley High School Management Corp., a for-profit education company, and was contracted with the School District of Philadelphia to run its Southwest School, an institution designed to help some of Philadelphia’s most at-risk children, according to the federal appeals court’s opinion. The program’s business model was to contract with school districts to handle its operation, such as implementing the curriculum and hiring and firing staff. 

From the court opinion in the criminal appeal

Lawyer and businessman David Shulick owned a for profit education company through which he contracted with the School District of Philadelphia to run its Southwest School, an institution designed to help some of Philadelphia’s most at risk children. Under the contract, Shulick received over $2 million to provide teachers, counselors, security, and special services to the charter school’s students. But instead of spending the money on the students as the contract required, he embezzled funds for his personal benefit and the benefit of his co-conspirator, Chaka Fattah, Jr.

After a complex, multiyear fraud investigation, Shulick was ultimately charged and convicted. He now appeals, alleging a number of errors, ranging from speedy trial right violations to errors in evidentiary rulings, faulty jury instructions, and sentencing miscalculations. After careful review of each claim, we conclude there was no reversible error in the proceedings and will therefore affirm.


Despite the contract’s clear requirements, Shulick failed to provide the services and staff he agreed to. He failed to employ the dedicated security personnel the contract required. He hired fewer teachers, provided those whom he did hire with far fewer benefits than the budget allocated, and paid his educators salaries of only $36,000 a year—$9,000 less than promised. Shulick then reduced their salaries even further if they elected health insurance. He even attempted to lay off teachers at the end of the school year to avoid paying them the final few months of their salaries. Overall, Shulick represented to the School District that he would spend $850,000 on salary and benefits each year but spent under half of that: about $396,000 in 2010-11 and about $356,000 in 2011-12. In all, of the over $2 million in funds he received, he spent only $1,186,001 on expenditures designated for Southwest.

Shulick’s failure to spend these funds on Southwest was part of an elaborate conspiracy to embezzle money. Shulick directed the unspent funds to co-conspirator Chaka Fattah, Jr., an employee and confidante of Shulick and the son of former U.S. Representative Chaka Fattah, Sr. The two agreed that Fattah, Jr. would use the funds to pay off various liabilities incurred across Shulick’s business ventures, while also keeping a cut of the embezzled money for himself.

(Mike Frisch)

November 29, 2023 in Bar Discipline & Process | Permalink | Comments (0)

It Sure Doesn't Taste Like Potato Chips

A divided Ohio Supreme Court has suspended an attorney who threw a Pringles can full of sh*t

Respondent, Jack Allen Blakeslee, of Caldwell, Ohio, Attorney Registration No. 0001005, was admitted to the practice of law in Ohio in 1976.1 In a November 2022 complaint, relator, disciplinary counsel, charged Blakeslee with professional misconduct for throwing a feces-filled Pringles can into the parking lot of a victim-advocacy center involved in a capital-murder case in which Blakeslee was representing the defendant. Blakeslee waived a probable-cause determination and, in his answer, admitted many of relator’s factual allegations and the single alleged rule violation. The parties also submitted joint stipulations of fact, misconduct, and aggravating and mitigating factors.

After conducting a hearing, a panel of the Board of Professional Conduct issued a report finding by clear and convincing evidence that Blakeslee had committed the charged misconduct and recommending that we publicly reprimand him for that misconduct. The board adopted the panel’s findings and recommendation. For the reasons that follow, we adopt the board’s finding of misconduct but suspend Blakeslee from the practice of law for one year with six months stayed on the condition that he engage in no further misconduct.

The proof was in the pudding (can, actually)

The trial court scheduled another pretrial hearing in Wells’s case for November 30, 2021, at 8:30 a.m. Before leaving his home on the morning of that hearing, Blakeslee deposited his feces into an empty Pringles can. He then drove approximately 20 minutes from his home in Coal Ridge to Cambridge with the open can of feces. Between 8:10 and 8:15 a.m., Blakeslee turned his vehicle down an alley where the Haven of Hope parking lot is located, approximately two-tenths of a mile from the Guernsey County Common Pleas courthouse. A sign on the building at the entrance to the alley indicated “Haven of Hope Administrative Offices” above a bold arrow pointing down the alley. Surveillance video shows that Blakeslee slowed his vehicle as he initially passed Haven of Hope’s parking lot. He continued driving further down the alley, passing several other parking lots, before turning around. He slowed again as he passed Haven of Hope’s parking lot a second time, threw the Pringles can containing his feces into the lot, and then drove to the courthouse for the 8:30 a.m. pretrial hearing in Wells’s case.

Carpenter Wilkinson saw Blakeslee throw the can out his vehicle toward the Haven of Hope parking lot. After Blakeslee drove away, Carpenter Wilkson approached the item and discovered that it was a Pringles can containing what appeared to be human feces. She then left for the courthouse to attend Wells’s pretrial hearing. Upon arriving at the courthouse, she noticed that Blakeslee was also present for the hearing.

Later that day, after discussing the matter with a prosecutor assigned to the Wells case, Carpenter Wilkinson filed a report with the Cambridge Police Department. Thereafter, Blakeslee was charged with and pleaded guilty to minor misdemeanor charges of disorderly conduct and littering. He ultimately paid $248 in fines and court costs for those offenses.

A means of expression

During his disciplinary hearing, Blakeslee testified that he had engaged in similar misconduct on at least ten other occasions that year and that he randomly chose the locations where he deposited the Pringles cans containing his feces. He also specifically denied having any knowledge that the parking lot in question belonged to Haven of Hope when he threw the can from his vehicle on November 30, 2021.

Court majority

We acknowledge that Blakeslee does not appear to have harbored any animosity toward Carpenter Wilkinson, her colleagues, or their work as victim’s advocates. Nor did he intend to intimidate them. While the record demonstrates that Blakeslee regrets his misconduct, it also shows that he lacks sufficient insight into the origin of and motivation for his inappropriate behavior to effectuate positive change. We therefore reject the board’s assessment that there is no factual basis for concluding that the public needs to be protected from additional violations, and we conclude that the appropriate sanction for Blakeslee’s misconduct is a one-year suspension with six months stayed on the condition that he engage in no further misconduct.

A dissent would make the suspension longer but fully stayed

DEWINE, J., concurs in judgment only. FISCHER, J., concurs in part and dissents in part and would impose a two year suspension, all stayed, and two years of probation.

(Mike Frisch)

November 29, 2023 in Bar Discipline & Process | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Maryland Admits Applicant Despite Practice Exam Plagiarism

An applicant was admitted to the Bar of the Maryland Supreme Court with a series of WHERAS descriptions of law school misconduct

WHEREAS, while in his final semester of law school at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law in the spring of 2018, the Applicant took a bar preparation course, which included taking multiple Multistate Performance Test (“MPT”) practice exams,
WHEREAS, prior to taking his fifth and final practice exam, the Applicant obtained a picture of the model answer from a friend who had already taken the exam, intending to achieve the number of points that he needed for a perfect score on the final MPT practice exam, and he in fact achieved such a score,
WHEREAS, the professor who taught the bar preparation course recognized the plagiarized answer, resulting in a hearing before the law school honor board, which issued “an official reprimand to be made part of his student permanent record and to be disclosed to the bar examiners for each state to which he applied,” and also required that he complete an ethics essay assignment prior to graduation,
WHEREAS, prior to graduation, the Applicant was advised by a professor that he needed to disclose the identity of the friend who shared the model answer with him, and after the Applicant complied, he was then given an additional honor code violation for failing to report the honor code violation of his friend,
WHEREAS, the Applicant was permitted to graduate and received his J.D. degree...

A dissent of Justice Hotten joined by Justice Eaves

Mr. Howie incurred honor code violations while attending law school for plagiarism and failing to disclose the honor code violation of another student who facilitated his plagiarism. Although he was previously admitted to the Bars of New Jersey and New York, he failed to disclose the violations to two of his four employers. This record reflects a patterned lack of candor and a failure to appreciate a moral duty to the truth. Only after pressure from three attorneys did Mr. Howie admit his dishonesty to the law school, yet chose to violate the honor code again by withholding the name of the student who facilitated his plagiarism. Before the Character Committee, Mr. Howie stated he did not affirmatively disclose the Maryland honor code violations to his New Jersey employers because they “only practiced in New Jersey.” However, an attorney’s ethical obligation to the truth is not limited by geography. See, e.g., In re License of Thompson, 363 Md. 469, 478–79, 769 A.2d 905, 910–11 (2000) (noting that attorney’s violations of D.C. Disciplinary Rules would reflect the attorney’s lack of the requisite moral character for practice in Maryland); Att’y Grievance Comm’n v. McCoy, 369 Md. 226, 237, 798 A.2d 1132, 1138 (2002) (disbarring an attorney for ethical violations committed in Delaware).

Mr. Howie’s conduct also reflects another concern: his focus on the repercussions of being caught, not the moral failing of dishonesty. After being caught by his school, Mr. Howie asked his professor how “he could make things go away.” Before the Character Committee, Mr. Howie listed some “regrets,” omitting the dishonesty of his plagiarism and limited to the stress of being caught on his family and the damage to his career. These “regrets” do not demonstrate that he understands the moral failing of dishonesty, only the inconvenience of being caught.

When given an opportunity to show that he had rehabilitated himself, Mr. Howie chose not to, again demonstrating he does not understand his moral duty. Instead, he obfuscated his “make things go away” statement as “embarrassing and silly” and stood by his decision to seek advice from attorneys rather than take responsibility for his dishonesty.

Before this Court, Mr. Howie still could not articulate why his dishonesty was problematic, and pointed to his Bar admissions in New Jersey and New York to argue that he has been rehabilitated and presently possesses the requisite moral character. I disagree. Mr. Howie has the burden of proving his moral character and fitness before this Court. Md. Rule 19-204(d). Admission to the Bars of other jurisdictions does not abrogate the responsibility of demonstrating he possesses sufficient moral character to practice law in Maryland. His decision to foist his obligation onto the Bars of other states is not indicative of appreciating his moral duties.

(Mike Frisch)

November 28, 2023 in Bar Discipline & Process | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, November 27, 2023


The Virginia State Bar Disciplinary Board has suspended an attorney for one year

Matt Clay Pinsker

4932 Dominion Blvd.
Glen Allen, VA 23060

VSB Docket No.: 21-033-122719

Ordered on November 21, 2023, and effective November 28, 2023, the Virginia State Bar Disciplinary Board suspended Matt Clay Pinsker’s license to practice law in the Commonwealth of Virginia for one year for violating the professional rule that governs misconduct.

CBS6 News Richmond reported

A local defense attorney who was found guilty of a sex crime will now have his law license suspended for one year by the Virginia State Bar Disciplinary Board.

Matt Pinsker’s hearing before the Virginia State Bar’s Disciplinary Board started Monday, and the board ruled Tuesday that Pinsker did engage in professional misconduct, suspending his license.

In May of 2021, CBS6 reported that defense attorney and former prosecutor Matt Pinsker had been indicted in Henrico on three felony charges, including rape after he was accused by a VCU student of sexual assault.

At the time, Pinsker was an adjunct professor at the University.

According to documents obtained from the Virginia State Bar, the young woman first interned for Pinsker and then was hired to work for him.

The next morning, the intern said she woke up alone on the floor of Pinsker’s new law office.

She said that Pinsker later told her they had sexual interactions, but he did not think they had sex.

The woman ended up going to VCU Medical Center for a rape kit.

Pinsker later told police he did have sex with the intern, but claimed it was consensual and they were both drunk.

After the indictment, the case was scheduled to go to trial, but Pinsker ended up entering an Alford plea in June of last year to a reduced charge of misdemeanor sexual battery.

State bar documents said that during sentencing the court agreed with the prosecution that it appeared Pinsker was grooming interns.

Pinsker was sentenced to 12 months behind bars.

However, Pinsker maintains the intern came on to him, and the sex was consensual, but claims he entered an Alford plea because he could not afford to take a chance that the jury got it wrong.

A subcommittee of the Virginia State Bar alleged Pinsker engaged in professional misconduct by committing a criminal deliberately wrongful act that reflects adversely on the lawyer’s honesty, trustworthiness, or fitness to practice law.

The documents state that on February 5, 2021, the two drank wine and liquor together.

According to bar documents in Pinsker’s plea agreement, they state “the Commonwealth and defendant will jointly request that the court make a finding that the sexual battery was accomplished by force threats or intimidation, and not by means of physical helplessness or incapacity.

(Mike Frisch)

November 27, 2023 in Bar Discipline & Process | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Continuing Adventures Of Jeffrey Clark

The endless flurry of pleadings (by my count eight last Thursday) in the Jeffrey Clark D.C. bar discipline matter includes Disciplinary Counsel's objection to the adequacy of Respondent's witness disclosures and, more significantly, the relevance of his apparent desire to turn the matter into a 2020 election re-litigation circus

Regarding the 2020 presidential election in Georgia, Disciplinary Counsel generally objects to any witness whose testimony concerns issues arising after January 3, 2021, or of which Respondent was unaware until after January 3, 2021. The specification alleges that Respondent drafted his “Proof of Concept” letter on December 28, 2020, and did not stop pushing for it to be sent to Georgia officials until January 3, 2021. Testimony about irregularities or other election issues in Georgia is therefore not relevant to this disciplinary proceeding unless Respondent was aware of those things prior to January 3. It does not matter what evidence may have been uncovered in or about Georgia after that date; what matters here is what, if anything, Respondent knew about the election in Georgia at the time he was pushing to send his letter. If Respondent is allowed to put on irrelevant evidence about which he was unaware of prior to January 3, then Disciplinary Counsel should have the right to call rebuttal witnesses—including, but not limited to, officials from Georgia—to show that there were no irregularities sufficient to affect the outcome of that state’s 2020 presidential election. Because evidence of which Respondent was unaware as of January 3, 2021 is irrelevant, we do not intend to rebut it; going down that path would turn what should be a simple disciplinary proceeding into a protracted and needless election contest.

Among the multiple motions of Respondent is one that requires Disciplinary Counsel to prove it has jurisdiction to proceed

It is quite clear by now that there has never been a disciplinary case brought by ODC that remotely resembles this case. We have been unable to find a disciplinary case anywhere over a draft letter that was never sent. When one adds in the other unique characteristics of this case, it should be an undisputed fact that ODC does “not ordinarily apply its rules of ethical conduct to particular conduct or activity by the attorney” at issue in this case. Accordingly, the jurisdictional requirements of 28 U.S.C. 530B and 28 C.F.R. § 77.2 cannot be satisfied in this case.

The inference that this case is politically motivated and the product of local passions and prejudices against the former national government is clear and compelling–and thus constitutes the very thing that the jurisdictional prerequisites of 28 U.S.C. 530B and 28 C.F.R. § 77.2 were intended to prevent. Putting that aside, however, we are entitled to a ruling that ODC must produce evidence that can show that ODC can comply with the threshold requirements of superior federal statutory and regulatory law that even allowed it to open, let alone prosecute or continue prosecuting a case like this one.

Jurisdiction flows from Respondent's membership in the D.C. Bar.

Rule XI, Section 1. Jurisdiction 
  (a) Persons subject to disciplinary jurisdiction. All members of the District of Columbia Bar, all persons appearing or participating pro hac vice in any proceeding in accordance with Rule 49(c)(1) of the General Rules of this Court, all persons licensed by this Court Special Legal Consultants under Rule 46(c)(4), all new and visiting clinical professors providing services pursuant to Rule 48(c)(4), and all persons who have been suspended or disbarred by this Court are subject to the disciplinary jurisdiction of this Court and its Board on Professional Responsibility (hereinafter referred to as "the Board").

Mercifully, no one has ever sought to use the Department of Justice in the manner that "remotely resembles" what is charged here. (Mike Frisch)

November 27, 2023 in Bar Discipline & Process | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, November 24, 2023

Bad Break Up

The Arizona Presiding Disciplinary Judge has approved a six-month and a day suspension of an attorney for criminal conduct toward his ex-wife

The Agreement sets forth the factual background for the ethical violations, which is not repeated herein. Mr. Fredenberg pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor offenses: harassment, in violation of A.R.S. § 13-2921(A), and interference with judicial proceedings, in violation of A.R.S. § 13-2810(A)(2). The convictions were based on actions he took against his former spouse, “with whom he was engaged in contentious family law proceedings.” Mr. Fredenberg created fake dating profiles for his former spouse, posting sexually explicit content and redirecting men responding to the profile to his former spouse, using her actual telephone number. His former spouse began “receiving unwanted graphic nude photographs and sexually explicit text messages from men.” Mr. Fredenberg also contacted his former spouse by email, in violation of an existing protective order. 

Public protection

Because Mr. Fredenberg will be required to seek reinstatement under Rule 65 -- which will require him to prove by clear and convincing evidence his rehabilitation (among other things), the PDJ will accept the negotiated agreement as minimally adequate to serve the recognized purposes of the attorney discipline system. The likelihood of Mr. Fredenberg completing the necessary rehabilitation in six months and one day seems low, but resolution of that issue (and others) must abide further proceedings.

(Mike Frisch)


November 24, 2023 in Bar Discipline & Process | Permalink | Comments (0)

Detrimental Reliance On ChatGPT Draws Colorado Sanction

Cutting edge discipline imposed by stipulation before the Colorado Presiding Disciplinary Judge

The Presiding Disciplinary Judge approved the parties’ stipulation to discipline and suspended Zachariah C. Crabill (attorney registration number 56783) for one year and one day, with ninety days to be served and the remainder to be stayed upon Crabill’s successful completion of a twoyear period of probation, with conditions. The suspension took effect November 22, 2023.

In April 2023, a client hired Crabill to prepare a motion to set aside judgment in the client’s civil case. Crabill, who had never drafted such a motion before working on his client’s matter, cited case law that he found through the artificial intelligence platform, ChatGPT. Crabill did not read the cases he found through ChatGPT or otherwise attempt to verify that the citations were accurate. In May 2023, Crabill filed the motion with the presiding court. Before a hearing on the motion, Crabill discovered that the cases from ChatGPT were either incorrect or fictitious. But Crabill did not alert the court to the sham cases at the hearing. Nor did he withdraw the motion. When the judge expressed concerns about the accuracy of the cases, Crabill falsely attributed the mistakes to a legal intern. Six days after the hearing, Crabill filed an affidavit with the court, explaining that he used ChatGPT when he drafted the motion.

Business Insider  had more of the story as recounted by Law Week Colorado

"When ChatGPT saved me hours of work, it was a tiny ray of sunlight in an otherwise abysmal situation," Crabill said in an email to Insider. "My experience is not unique, sadly I've heard many attorneys say they too were 'thrown to wolves' early in their career."

Once the motion was complete, the lawyer submitted it to his boss to review and, ultimately, filed it with the Colorado court — but he missed the critical step of checking the AI chatbot's work.

His excitement quickly turned into horror when he realized ChatGPT created multiple fake lawsuit citations in the motion.

"I think all my cases cited from chatGPT are garbage … I can't even find the cases in Lexis…" Crabill said regarding the motion, according to screenshots of his text messages reviewed by Law Week Colorado.

The errors can likely be chalked up to hallucinations, when ChatGPT generates seemingly convincing responses that are actually not grounded in fact.

He told the judge he used the AI chatbot to help strengthen the document. The judge later reported him to a statewide office.

Soon after, he was fired, The Washington Post first reported. Crabill maintained to Insider that using ChatGPT was not the reason he was fired, though he didn't respond when asked for further clarification.

Despite losing his job, Crabill said he still believes AI has the power to make lawyers more productive. He has started his own company that offers legal services through AI.

"I still use ChatGPT in my day-to-day, much like most people use Google on the job," Crabill said.

Baker Law Group didn't respond to Insider's request for comment before publication.

(Mike Frisch)

November 24, 2023 in Bar Discipline & Process | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Waltons

The Ontario Law Society Tribunal Hearing Division has revoked an attorney's license based on findings of misconduct outside the practice of law

Mr. Walton and his wife, who at all material times was also a lawyer, were engaged in a commercial real estate development business in their personal capacities. As a couple, they were shareholders in a company referred to as the Walton Company.

The Waltons and Dr. Bernstein would identify a particular property to develop and set up a company on a 50/50 basis. Half the shares would be owned by the Walton Company and the other half would be owned by Dr. Bernstein through corporations he owned and controlled. Dr. Bernstein would contribute half the capital to each company and the Walton Company would contribute the other half of the capital in each company. In all, over 30 companies were constituted and over 30 properties were involved in this real estate development framework.

It was also agreed between Dr. Bernstein and the Waltons that the Waltons, through their company, would provide management services to the subsidiary property development corporations created through the effective partnership of the Waltons and Dr. Bernstein. The expectation was that such management services would be accounted for properly and billed by the Walton Company to the various joint subsidiary companies as appropriate and would be paid by those companies in an honest and transparent manner.

It was agreed among the Waltons and Dr. Bernstein that any profit or funds were not to be extracted from the various joint subsidiary property development companies without the knowledge and consent of both the Waltons and Dr. Bernstein.

Unfortunately for Dr. Bernstein, the business relationship he entered into with the Waltons did not work out in the manner he had hoped for and expected. He was defrauded out of a substantial sum of money, which he attempted to recover through the litigation presided over by Justices Brown and Newbould, referenced above.

The Law Society relies entirely on the facts as found by Justices Brown and Newbould as conclusive proof of the first group of allegations. This tribunal addressed the question of whether Mr. Walton could re-litigate the findings of fact made by Justices Brown and Newbould previously in Law Society of Ontario v. Walton, ONLSTH 135.  In that decision, Mr. Walton’s attempt to do so was denied, based upon the principles of Toronto (City) v. CUPE, Local 792003 SCC 63.

The tribunal accepted the collateral findings as stated by Justice Brown

Based upon Norma Walton’s June 21, 2014 evidence, I can only conclude that when Norma and Ron Walton signed the June 25, 2012 agreement with Dr. Bernstein for the 875/887 Queen Street East project, they fully intended to use the funds advanced by Dr. Bernstein to fund, in part, their own acquisition that day of their 44 Park Lane Circle personal residence. They did not disclose to Dr. Bernstein their intended use of his funds. To the contrary, in the agreement they signed with him on June 25, 2012, they led Dr. Bernstein to believe that the funds he advanced would be used solely for the project at 875/887 Queen Street East and that neither he nor his co-venturers, Norma and Ron Walton, would be able to withdraw their capital from that project until it had been sold. By signing the agreement with Dr. Bernstein on June 25, 2012, and then proceeding immediately to appropriate the funds he advanced to their own use later that day to acquire their mansion at 44 Park Lane Circle, Norma and Ron Walton deceived Dr. Bernstein and unlawfully misappropriated Dr. Bernstein’s funds to their own personal use. In short, the Waltons defrauded Dr. Bernstein.


 The gravity of Mr. Walton’s behaviour is far more than sufficient to justify the penalty of revocation of his licence to practise law. The case law is clear. Where misconduct involving serious dishonesty and knowing participation in fraud in relation to a licensee’s activities as a licensee is established, the presumptive penalty is revocation. With respect to misconduct involving serious dishonesty of a licensee in the conduct of their business activities outside the scope of their activities as a licensee, the presumption of the penalty of revocation should also apply.  In the present case, there are no exceptional circumstances which might displace the presumptive penalty of revocation.

A second matter

 with respect to each of the five mortgage commitments, we conclude that Mr. Walton knowingly signed documents which contained false representations and were submitted in support of a loan. On this basis, as was the case in respect our findings regarding the first group of allegations, Mr. Walton’s behaviour is far more than sufficient to justify the penalty of revocation of his licence to practise law. Where misconduct involving serious dishonesty and knowing participation in fraud is established, the presumptive penalty is revocation.  In the present case, as previously mentioned, there are no exceptional circumstances which might displace the presumptive penalty of revocation.

(Mike Frisch)

November 24, 2023 in Bar Discipline & Process | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, November 23, 2023

Sex, Lies And Videotape In Illinois

Recent sanctions imposed by the Illinois Supreme Court

Mr. Steinback, who was licensed in 1977, was suspended for 30 days. While representing a defendant in a federal criminal case in Iowa, he allowed his legal assistant to file a motion seeking to continue a sentencing hearing based on false statements that Mr. Steinback could not attend the hearing because he had been treated at an emergency room and had been advised not to travel for the next four to seven days. Mr. Steinback failed to correct the false statements of material fact made in the motion. The suspension is effective on December 12, 2023.

Mr. Zeas was licensed to practice in New York in 2003 and in Illinois in 2006. In July 2019, the Supreme Court of New York entered an order disbarring him based on his felony conviction for child pornography. The Supreme Court of Illinois imposed reciprocal discipline and disbarred him.

From the New York disbarment order of Zeas

Respondent's conviction arises from a secret video recording he made in 2009 of a 14–year–old while she changed her clothes in a health club bathroom.

Mr. Peters, who was licensed in 1991, was suspended for 90 days. He pled no contest to a charge of soliciting for prostitution. He thereafter made a false statement to the ARDC regarding the circumstances of his arrest. The suspension is effective on December 12, 2023.

CBS News 2 (Chicago) reported on the Peters arrest

A retired Cook County judge was among more than 100 people arrested in Florida, including alleged child sexual predators and those seeking prostitutes, in a six-day undercover human trafficking operation in Florida.

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said Daniel Peters, 66, told detectives that he used to be a judge in the Cook County 4th Sub Circuit Court and a special assistant for legal affairs in the office of professional regulations at the Cook County Sheriff's Office in Illinois. He was charged with soliciting a prostitute.


During their operation, which they called "Operation March Sadness 2," detectives found prostitutes who had posted online advertisements through various websites and social media platforms to identify people who were seeking them out. They also identified adults who they thought were inappropriately communicating with children. 

Undercover detectives then communicated online with these suspects before meeting them at a location and arresting them. Members of anti-trafficking organizations also responded, speaking with prostitutes and offering them services and counseling, the sheriff's office said.

Officials identified four Disney employees as among those arrested...

Authorities also arrested a man who worked at a local family amusement park in Orlando called The Fun Spot and a former Florida judge. Both were allegedly seeking prostitutes.

(Mike Frisch)

November 23, 2023 in Bar Discipline & Process | Permalink | Comments (0)

Abandoned Any Pretense

The British Columbia Law Society has disbarred an attorney 

This Citation, issued against the Respondent on November 26, 2020, is novel as it appears to be the first time a lawyer has been disciplined for money laundering – purposely using his status as a lawyer and his trust account to assist his clients to hide the illegal proceeds of their securities fraud. The Respondent utterly abandoned any pretense of acting ethically. He actively enabled his clients to benefit from their crimes. The Respondent knowingly assisted in or encouraged dishonesty, crime or fraud. The Respondent’s conduct is a gross dereliction of his duties as a lawyer and arguably made him a party after the fact to his clients’ frauds. For the reasons set out below the Respondent must be disbarred.

The misconduct

The Respondent’s misconduct in this case is extremely grave. At every stage, the Respondent acted, not to provide legitimate legal services, but rather to enable his clients to benefit from their securities fraud. The Respondent used his position as a lawyer and the principle of solicitor client privilege to hide proceeds of crime in his trust account. This is a gross breach of his duties and his acts must be viewed as extremely serious.

November 23, 2023 in Bar Discipline & Process | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Suspension Imposed For Attack On "Longtime Friend"

A busy disciplinary day in Louisiana with a decision from the state Supreme Court

In September 2020, respondent’s attorney notified the ODC that respondent had been arrested for battery. An online search produced a news report of the attack that respondent committed upon Frederick Cascio, the owner and operator of a restaurant located in Monroe, Louisiana.

By way of background, Mr. Cascio and respondent (and their families) are longtime friends. Respondent, his wife, and children visited Mr. Cascio’s restaurant regularly. In the fall of 2020, respondent asked Mr. Cascio to hire his teenaged son, Noah, for a part-time job in the restaurant. Mr. Cascio agreed and hired Noah to work as a bus boy.

On the evening of September 19, 2020, Mr. Cascio believed Noah was more than an hour late for his scheduled shift. Mr. Cascio sent respondent a text message to advise that Noah had not arrived for work and to ask for his son’s phone number. Respondent replied with an abusive, insulting, and racially improper text message, which included a threat to “beat your ass.”

Mr. Cascio then ended the texting and returned to completing preparations for dinner service. After completing the preparations, Mr. Cascio was conversing with his staff and sitting at a counter near the rear of the bar area. Suddenly, respondent burst through the rear door of the restaurant in a rage. Respondent approached Mr. Cascio, who had his leg propped up on a railing, grabbed Mr. Cascio’s ankles, swiveled him around, and pulled him the length of and off the preparation counter, causing Mr. Cascio to fall onto his back and head to the concrete floor.

From there, respondent dragged Mr. Cascio into the kitchen area and knelt on his upper chest and neck. Respondent then grabbed Mr. Cascio’s head, which hrepeatedly pounded into the floor, and was heard to say, “I will kill you.” The attack ended when a female employee, in an effort to pull Mr. Cascio free from respondent, reached out and grabbed Mr. Cascio as he lay on the kitchen floor. Other employees who witnessed the attack called 911 and summoned police. Respondent disengaged and left the premises.

The texted racial slur

Respondent: You’re fucking kidding me. You don’t have his fucking number? You, your life, your family and your business is more than fucked up as a n[*]gger’s checkbook. Your staff wants to quit. You can’t communicate with people and you’re a manic depressive. Your passive aggressive daughter is equally stupid[.] I’ll return your documents Tuesday.

Respondent asked Cascio to give false information to law enforcement; he declined.

The incident led to a deferred prosecution agreement and no conviction.


we agree that the sanction recommended by the board is appropriate. Accordingly, we will suspend respondent from the practice of law for one year and one day, with six months deferred, followed by a two-year period of probation governed by the conditions set forth by the board.

Chief Justice Weimer

Where I depart from my colleagues is in the length of the suspension imposed. Based on the original text sent to the victim, which is quoted at footnote 1 of the per curiam, and on the lack of candor in respondent’s initial response to the Office of Disciplinary Counsel, I would impose a lengthier period of actual suspension.

Justice Crain would also impose a longer suspension. (Mike Frisch)

November 22, 2023 in Bar Discipline & Process | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Gospel In Loiusiana

The Louisiana Supreme Court declined to disbar an attorney and imposed a three-year suspension that drew dissents from two justices

The record establishes by clear and convincing evidence that respondent failed to properly supervise his non-lawyer staff, resulting in the conversion of approximately $4.2 million belonging to third parties, intentionally continued to convert third-party funds totaling approximately $1.8 million in order to pay older third-party debts, failed to maintain a trust account for several years, lied on his trust account disclosure statements that he did not handle client funds, allowed nonlawyers to sign trust account checks, charged clients for inappropriate office expenses, settled a client’s personal injury claim without the client’s knowledge or consent, and lied to the ODC during its investigation. This conduct amounts to a violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct as found by the hearing committee and modified by the disciplinary board.


Considering the mitigating factors present, in particular the significant restitution respondent has already made and continues to make, we find a downward deviation from the baseline sanction[of disbarment]  is appropriate. Accordingly, we will impose a three-year suspension from the practice of law. We will further order respondent to make full restitution to the third-party providers to whom money is still owed.

Justice Weimer

In describing the conversion of funds in which respondent engaged as a “rolling conversion,” akin to “robbing Peter to pay Paul,” the sheer breadth and volume of respondent’s transgressions is understated. Between 2009 and 2019 (a 10-year period), respondent converted a total of approximately $6 million. Id., slip op. at 10. Respondent’s behavior is more akin to robbing Peter and Paul to pay John, James, Matthew and Luke.

The majority acknowledges all of these facts and yet finds a downward deviation from the baseline sanction of disbarment is appropriate, citing respondent’s lack of a prior disciplinary record, remorse, and “good faith” efforts at restitution. Respectfully, I disagree.

Justice Crichton

I agree with the majority’s finding that respondent has violated the multitude of Rules of Professional Conduct as alleged. However, I disagree with the significant downward deviation made by the majority to impose the sanction of three years suspension, as I find it unduly lenient. The majority determined that the mitigating factors, notably restitution made by respondent, support the downward deviation. In my view, the restitution that respondent made does indeed support such a deviation, but only from the permanent disbarment recommended by the Disciplinary Board to regular disbarment.

(Mike Frisch)

November 22, 2023 in Bar Discipline & Process | Permalink | Comments (0)

"Something Low Cut"

The Louisiana Supreme Court imposed a short suspension and a mental health evaluation for this misconduct

In June 2019, Mortimer Bishop sold immovable property to Christine Bowers. Thereafter, Mr. Bishop refused to vacate the premises, claiming that Ms. Bowers had granted him a lifetime usufruct over the property. Ms. Bowers then filed a rule for eviction against Mr. Bishop, and Mr. Bishop sued Ms. Bowers to rescind the sale based on theories of lesion and fraud. Mr. Bishop was represented by respondent in the litigation. Ms. Bowers was initially represented by attorney Eric Person. In August 2019, Ms. Bowers discharged Mr. Person and retained attorney F. Evans Schmidt to represent her.

During the litigation, respondent contacted Ms. Bowers multiple times to discuss the legal matter. These communications were through social media, email, and by telephone, and were made without the authorization of Ms. Bowers’ counsel. Some of the communications were also peculiar. In one message, respondent requested that Ms. Bowers “wear something low cut.”

In November 2020, Ms. Bowers filed a complaint against respondent with the ODC. In his written response to the complaint, respondent suggested that he had contacted Ms. Bowers during time periods when he believed she was not represented by counsel. However, in one of his messages to Ms. Bowers via Facebook, respondent stated that he knew she had an attorney. Moreover, in his sworn statement to the ODC, respondent testified that he communicated directly with Ms. Bowers even though she was represented by Mr. Schmidt because he was having trouble contacting Mr. Schmidt.

Complainant's testimony

Ms. Bowers testified that she was represented by counsel during the entire time relevant to these proceedings, and at no time was she without legal representation. Nevertheless, she received several email messages from respondent discussing the merits of the case involving Mr. Bishop. The email messages included a vulgar misspelling of the word “usufruct” and suggested that Ms. Bowers assist Mr. Bishop in finding a new place to live by “wear[ing] something low cut.” Ms. Bowers testified that the request made her feel “like a piece of trash.” Ms. Bowers also identified Facebook messages and a friend request that respondent sent to her Facebook account during the time she was represented by counsel. She also testified that respondent called her directly after a hearing in which Mr. Bishop was evicted, congratulating her and discussing further action in the matter.

The court on sanction

Turning to the issue of sanction, a period of actual suspension is warranted for respondent’s knowing and intentional communications with Ms. Bowers without the consent of her counsel. Furthermore, respondent made false statements of material fact to the ODC during its investigation, thereby compounding the misconduct. Nevertheless, we find it significant that respondent has no prior disciplinary record in more than fifty years of practicing law. Under these circumstances, it is appropriate to defer all but thirty days of the six-month suspension recommended by the board.

Regarding the recommendation of the committee and the board that respondent be required to submit to an examination by a licensed mental health care professional, we agree that respondent behaved in a bizarre manner towards Ms. Bowers, yet seems unable to understand why she was offended by his remarks. Respondent’s persistent focus on the underlying property matter during these proceedings is also somewhat puzzling. To resolve any concerns about respondent’s mental state, we will require that before he may be reinstated from his suspension, he must consult with JLAP and undergo, at his cost, an evaluation by a neuropsychologist or other mental health professional designated by JLAP to determine his competency to continue to practice law. A report of the evaluation shall be promptly submitted by the evaluator to JLAP, and provided by JLAP to the ODC and respondent within five days of receipt of the report. After receipt of the evaluator’s report, the ODC shall take any further action it deems appropriate under the circumstances.

Three justices dissented on sanction. Two found it unduly lenient; the other too onerous. (Mike Frisch)

November 22, 2023 in Bar Discipline & Process | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

I Read The News Today, Oh Boy

Misconduct at a Bench-Bar conference at the Seven Springs Mountain Resort drew a public reprimand of an attendee by the Disciplinary Board of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

Respondent was employed as a public defender at the time of the conference. State troopers responded to a call about an unruly patron in the Bavarian Bar.

He smelled of alcohol and "continued to ignore the Troopers commands and remained uncooperative by kicking his legs, clenching his keys in a closed fist and refusing to enter into a PSP patrol car once he had been handcuffed."

Charged originally with a number of offenses including a felony aggravated assault, he pled to misdemeanor disorderly conduct and the summary offense of public drunkeness and similar misconduct.

He has complied with probation conditions and obligation to report to the Office of Disciplinary Counsel. He has also been reinstated to his public defender position.

Unfortunately Trib Live reported this 

A Westmoreland County assistant public defender who is on probation for a 2021 incident at Seven Springs Mountain Resort was arrested Wednesday by Greensburg police.

Authorities said David E. Mulock, 38, of Murrysville walked away from a traffic stop after an officer reported seeing Mulock driving a Volkswagen that didn’t have inspection or emissions stickers. Police said the vehicle’s license plate was partially visible in the rear window, according to court papers.

City police said the car pulled into a parking lot on North Main Street at 8:45 a.m., and an officer followed and turned on the patrol unit’s lights. Mulock refused to stay there and instead recorded the interaction on a cellphone and walked away to get a cup of coffee, police said.

“‘You cannot stop me. I was already out of the vehicle before you put on your lights,’” Mulock said, according to police paperwork.

When Mulock continued to walk away, police grabbed his arms, knocking the cellphone free, and handcuffed him, according to court papers.

He is charged with escape, resisting arrest, evading detention on foot and four summary offenses. He was arraigned Wednesday afternoon and is free on recognizance bond. A preliminary hearing is set for Oct. 19. The status of his employment was unclear.

Mulock could not be reached.

He previously was suspended after the Somerset County arrest at Seven Springs on Sept. 16, 2021. He since has returned to work, but it is unclear when.

Mulock was sentenced in February to one year of probation on a charge of disorderly conduct, according to court records. He pleaded guilty to that offense and public drunkenness.

State police were called to the resort to investigate a reported disturbance. Four troopers found Mulock in a parking lot and said he refused to let them see his identification card. Police reported Mulock appeared to be intoxicated and resisted their attempts to take him into custody.

According to the state Supreme Court’s Judicial Disciplinary Board website, Mulock began practicing law in 2014 after graduating from the University of Pittsburgh Law School.

According to county records, Mulock began working for the county in 2016. He is a former law clerk for Westmoreland County Judge Timothy Krieger.

And from WTAE Pittsburgh 

District Judge Thomas Brletic found Mulock guilty of evading arrest, operating a vehicle without valid inspection and improper display of a plate. He found him not guilty of failure to carry his registration and license.

The commonwealth withdrew two misdemeanor charges of escape and resisting arrest.

Mulock has to pay $200 total in fines plus court costs.

Tim Dawson, Mulock's attorney, said to Pittsburgh's Action News 4 that he is happy with today's outcome.

"We got the most serious charges dismissed, and we had a summary trial on remaining charges and got two of those dismissed. We thought it was a fair trial," Dawson said.

According to the criminal complaint, the officer did not see inspection or emission stickers on Mulock's white Volkswagen while he was driving on Main Street. The officer also saw a partial plate in Mulock's window. Mulock pulled into the Helman-Ghrist parking lot. The officer pulled in after, and put his lights on.

Video evidence presented in court showed Mulock walking away while the officer yelled for him to get back into his car.

According to the criminal complaint, Mulock said, "You cannot stop me. I was already out of the vehicle before you put on your lights."

The officer walked after him and arrested him for not complying with orders.

Mulock said in court the officer had previously pulled him over, and it was not his intent to evade the law.

County commissioners said Mulock is no longer employed by the county.

Dawson said they are hopeful today's outcome will help reinstate him.

"At this point, he's temporarily not. With the success we had today, I think it will go a long way for him to get reinstated," Dawson said.

(Mike Frisch)

November 21, 2023 in Bar Discipline & Process | Permalink | Comments (0)

Interim Suspensions

The Oklahoma Supreme Court has ordered an interim suspension of two attorneys in unrelated matters.

One involves domestic assault

The Oklahoma Bar Association (OBA), in compliance with Rules 7.1 and 7.2 of the Rules Governing Disciplinary Proceedings (RGDP), has forwarded to this Court certified copies of the Probable Cause Affidavit, Information, Plea of Guilty/Summary of Facts, and Judgment and Sentence, in the criminal matter of State of Oklahoma v. Joseph Dewayne Kalka, Case No. CF-2022-265, in the District Court of Lincoln County. On October 24, 2023, Respondent Joseph Dewayne Kalka entered a plea of guilty to Count 1: Domestic Assault and Battery by Strangulation, a felony, in violation of 21 O.S., § 644(J), and Count 2: Domestic Abuse - Assault and Battery, a misdemeanor, in violation of 21 O.S., 644(C). The Court sentenced Respondent to a 3-year term of imprisonment for Count 1 and a 1-year term of imprisonment for Count 2, with execution of the sentence suspended, and fines in the amount of $200.

Next steps

Having received certified copies of these papers and orders, this Court orders that Joseph Dewayne Kalka is immediately suspended from the practice of law. Joseph Dewayne Kalka is directed to show cause, if any, no later than December 5, 2023, why this order of immediate interim suspension from the practice of law should be set aside. See Rule 7.3, RGDP. The OBA has until December 19, 2023, to respond.

Pursuant to Rule 7.4 of the RGDP, Joseph Dewayne Kalka has until January 3, 2024, to show cause in writing why a final order of discipline should not be made. The written return shall be verified and expressly state whether a hearing is desired. The lawyer may, in the interest of explaining the conduct or by way of mitigating the discipline to be imposed, file a brief and/or any evidence tending to mitigate the severity of discipline. The OBA has until January 17, 2024, to respond.

The other involves contempt

 The Oklahoma Bar Association (OBA), pursuant to Rules 7.1 and 7.2 of the Rules Governing Disciplinary Proceedings (RGDP), forwarded to this Court certified copies of a Corrected Verified Emergency Application for Citation for Indirect Contempt of Court, Jury Instructions, and Judgment and Order of Confinement for Civil Indirect Contempt in the matter of Myers v. Myers, CJ-2015-120 and Kemp v. Peterson, CJ-2019-6289, in Oklahoma County District Court. On October 26, 2023, a jury found Respondent Guy Wade Jackson guilty of indirect contempt. The court sentenced Respondent to six (6) months confinement in the Oklahoma County Detention Center and a $500 fine. Respondent is currently incarcerated.

Next steps

 It is this Court's determination that this matter, which was filed pursuant to Rule 7.2, RGDP, should proceed as a disciplinary matter pursuant to Rule 6, RGDP. Complainant is directed to file a formal Complaint in compliance with Rules 6.1 and 6.2 within 30 days from the date of this Order. Respondent will have 20 days after the mailing of the Complaint to file any Answer. The matter shall be set for hearing before the Professional Responsibility Tribunal pursuant to Rules 6.6 and 6.7. A briefing schedule will be entered by this Court following the filing of the Report and Recommendation of the Professional Responsibility Tribunal.

This order of immediate interim suspension shall stay in effect until further order of the Court.

(Mike Frisch)

November 21, 2023 in Bar Discipline & Process | Permalink | Comments (0)

Treatment Compliance Required To Sit For Ohio Bar Exam

The Ohio Supreme Court has disapproved an application to sit for the bar examination of a University of Akron law graduate

During his character-and-fitness hearing, Cline testified that his OVI offense occurred after he attended a Halloween party in 2021. He had been drinking more heavily than usual in the weeks leading up to the OVI offense due to the ending of a three-year relationship. Cline claimed that he had recognized that he had a problem and had sought counseling even before he received the OVI citation. As a result of the OVI offense, Cline attended an alcohol-diversion class through a court-ordered diversion program. He reported that he had stopped using marijuana and had worked on “drastically reducing [his] drinking.”

He participated but did not fully comply with the Bar's OLAP ("Ohio Lawyers Assistance Program") program

Cline tested positive for alcohol on December 26, 2022—two months to the day after he entered into his OLAP contract. He told the panel that he “slipped up” by drinking “a couple [of] beers” with his family, some of whom were completely unaware of his OLAP contract, when they gathered for the first time following the death of his grandfather. The panel noted that Cline had acknowledged that he should not have violated his OLAP contract.

Cline testified that as a result of his noncompliance with his contract due to his December 26 positive test, OLAP suggested in late January or early February 2023 that he enter an intensive outpatient therapy program (“IOP”). He entered the program in late February or early March, attending IOP meetings four days a week and individual counseling every other week. OLAP also required him to attend three AA meetings per week. Cline testified that he is engaged in his IOP and compliant with the requirements of the OLAP contract, but he admitted that, at best, he had been compliant for just a few weeks before his character-and-fitness hearing. Although Cline testified that he had submitted proof of his AA attendance to OLAP, OLAP has denied receiving any documentation regarding either his AA attendance or his participation in the IOP—and consequently has deemed him not in compliance with his OLAP contract as of March 31, 2023.


In this case, Cline’s OVI offense occurred during his second year of law school. And as part of the admissions process, the board requested that he undergo an OLAP assessment in October 2022, during his final semester of law school. Cline complied with that request and entered into an OLAP contract, but according to his own testimony, he failed to comply with the terms of that contract for nearly five months. Moreover, he failed to submit evidence of his eventual compliance to OLAP—and also to the board as it sought to determine whether he was fit to sit for the Ohio bar exam. Given these facts, we agree that Cline has failed to establish by clear and convincing evidence that he currently possesses the requisite character, fitness, and moral qualifications for admission to the practice of law in Ohio.

Accordingly, we disapprove Cline’s pending application to take the Ohio bar exam and will permit him to reapply for the bar exam no earlier than December 1, 2023. Upon submitting a new application to take the bar exam, Cline shall be required to submit documentation of his full compliance with his OLAP contract.

(Mike Frisch)

November 21, 2023 in Bar Discipline & Process | Permalink | Comments (0)

Credit For Time Served After Nine Year Interim Suspension

The Ohio Supreme Court has indefinitely suspended a former judge with credit for time served

Hunter’s indictment was based on conduct that she had allegedly undertaken in her role as a juvenile-court judge. On October 14, 2014, a jury returned a guilty verdict on a single count of having an unlawful interest in a public contract in violation of R.C. 2921.42(A)(1), a fourth-degree felony. The court sentenced Hunter to six months in jail followed by one year of nonreporting probation and ordered her to pay the court costs.

On October 21, 2014, we suspended Hunter from the practice of law on an interim basis based on her felony conviction.

At the bar discipline hearing

Hunter contended that the criminal charges against her were politically motivated because she was the first black Democrat elected as a judge of the Hamilton County Juvenile Court and sought to implement change. Hunter and her witnesses offered testimony that Hunter had actively worked to reform the court’s procedures and operations and implement improvements in the juveniledetention facility.

Hunter agreed that she was convicted of the fourth-degree felony offense of having an unlawful interest in a public contract under R.C. 2921.42(A)(1). But she maintained that the evidence presented at her trial did not warrant a conviction under the language of that statute.

Her due process violations and other argument were rejected

The court of appeals’ recitation of the evidence presented at Hunter’s trial demonstrates that upon being informed of the potential termination of her brother’s employment, Hunter sent an email to all employees of the Hamilton County Juvenile Court Youth Center identifying numerous safety concerns that resembled the main explanations her brother had given for his actions that were under investigation. Hunter, 2016-Ohio-123 at ¶ 7. Hunter requested many documents—including some that “would not have been provided to any employee under any circumstances,” id. at ¶ 1—and her brother testified that she provided those nonpublic documents to him and that he took them to his attorney, id. at ¶ 11.

Those facts support the board’s inference that Hunter acted to protect her brother’s job and that her actions in that regard violated her duty under Jud.Cond.R. 1.2 to act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the independence, integrity, and impartiality of the judiciary. They also support the board’s conclusion that she abused the prestige of her judicial office to advance the personal or economic interests of her brother in violation of Jud.Cond.R. 1.3, that she permitted her familial relationship with her brother to influence her judicial conduct in violation of Jud.Cond.R. 2.4(B), and that she knowingly disclosed nonpublic information acquired in her judicial capacity for a purpose unrelated to her judicial duties in violation of Jud.Cond.R. 3.5. We therefore adopt the board’s findings of misconduct.


We acknowledge that the misconduct for which Hunter was convicted does not rise to the level of misconduct that we found warranted permanent disbarment in Terry, McAuliffe, and Gallagher. But given that Hunter’s conviction under R.C. 2921.42(A)(1) arose from conduct that she undertook in her role as a judge, it is far more significant than an attorney’s violation of the same statute in Schmidt. Based on Hunter’s criminal conviction and the factual findings set forth in the court of appeals’ opinion affirming that conviction, Hunter has been found to have violated the law, abused the prestige of her judicial office to advance the personal interests of another, allowed a familial relationship to influence her judicial conduct or judgment, and disclosed or used nonpublic information acquired in her judicial capacity for her brother’s benefit, and she has thereby failed to act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the independence, integrity, and impartiality of the judiciary. On these facts, we are not persuaded by Hunter’s arguments that she should receive any sanction less than an indefinite suspension.

Finally, we recognize that Hunter has served nearly nine years under her interim felony suspension. Given that an attorney or judge who has been indefinitely suspended from the practice of law may ordinarily petition this court for reinstatement after just two years, see Gov.Bar R. V(25)(A), we agree that the board’s recommended sanction of an indefinite suspension with credit for the time that Hunter has served under her interim felony suspension is the appropriate sanction in this case. Because Hunter will be eligible to petition this court for reinstatement immediately upon the issuance of our decision and order in this case, this sanction cannot be considered a de facto disbarment.

Justice Fischer

I disagree with the majority’s decision to give Hunter credit for the time that she has served under her interim felony suspension. Hunter committed a felony offense, acted with a selfish motive, and has taken no responsibility for her actions—she has consistently and unfairly blamed others for her prosecution and hardships. This court should indefinitely suspend Hunter from the practice of law with no credit for the time she has already served. Thus, I respectfully concur in part and dissent in part...

Hunter has unequivocally expressed to this court through her brief and at oral argument that she does not acknowledge any wrongdoing and instead blames this court, the board, disciplinary counsel, and other legal professionals for her legal situation. Hunter takes on the role of victim, alleging that “the Ohio Supreme Court, in concert with the Hamilton County Prosecutor’s Office, and Ohio and Hamilton County Republican Parties” have used “unprecedented legal intervention and aggressive intimidation” to try to prevent Hunter from becoming a Hamilton County Juvenile Court judge. Hunter maintains that her case “exposes that the Ohio Supreme Court operates a clandestine, arbitrary system of discipline and applies different standards of law and ethics, depending on the ethnicity and political affiliation of the accused.” Hunter further expresses that the board “hypocritically and discriminatorily allows members of the bar with powerful family members, political connections and money [who] openly violate the Ohio Rules of Professional Conduct and the Ohio Code of Judicial Conduct to avoid discipline and escape prosecution, but targets lawyers that report and expose them for removal.” She asserts that her case reveals “two systems of justice,” one for her and one for “the elite.” During her oral argument, Hunter alleged that disciplinary counsel acted hypocritically in charging her with violations of the Code of Judicial Conduct after she was convicted of a fourth-degree felony offense but not charging other members of the bench who she believes have also committed wrongdoing but who have never been charged with crimes. Hunter believes that her case demonstrates that the entirety of the legal system is colluding against her. But this assertion could not be further from the truth.

Justice Lewis joined the concurring/dissenting opinion. (Mike Frisch)

November 21, 2023 in Bar Discipline & Process, Judicial Ethics and the Courts | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, November 20, 2023

Courthouse Conduct Draws Proposed Suspension

An Illinois Hearing Board recommends a six-month suspension with fitness

Respondent engaged in misconduct when he harassed Will County Courthouse staff. Specifically, Respondent made inappropriate comments towards female employees and asked them out on dates, patted a law library employee’s head and placed his hand in her hair, and commented that he would “get with” a judicial extern if he were younger. Courthouse administrators warned Respondent about his behavior, but he continued to engage in the same behavior. His continued harassment of courthouse employees resulted in courthouse staff placing restrictions on his movement within the courthouse. By the foregoing conduct, Respondent violated Illinois Rule of Professional Conduct 8.4(d).

Respondent presented no evidence of mitigation. In aggravation, in 2022, he consented to a 60-day suspension for, among other things, communicating with a defendant in a criminal case without the consent of the defendant’s lawyer and seeking to represent that defendant, even though the representation would be directly adverse to and materially limited by his responsibilities to another client in a related case. See In re Lewin, M.R. 031282, 2021PR00074 (September 21, 2022). While the prior misconduct was different from the current misconduct, Respondent engaged in the current misconduct while the prior disciplinary matter was pending, during a time when he should have had a heightened awareness of his ethical obligations.

In addition, Respondent was an experienced practitioner at the time of his misconduct; he engaged in a pattern of misconduct that spanned more than two years and involved multiple individuals, including a law student; and he continued to engage in his unacceptable behavior even after the Will County Circuit Court staff ordered him to stop his harassing behavior and placed restrictions on his ability to be in the courthouse. Finally, at his hearing, Respondent showed no recognition of the wrongfulness of his conduct nor any sincere remorse for it, and in fact, spent much of his testimony minimizing his conduct and rationalizing why his behavior should not have been deemed offensive. He repeatedly stated that he did not understand what was wrong with his conduct, which does not instill us with confidence that he will refrain from engaging in similar misconduct in the future.,


Given Respondent’s misconduct, the serious aggravating factors present, the absence of any mitigating evidence, and relevant case law, we recommend that Respondent be suspended for six months and until further order of the Court.

Charging document high (low) lights

Mr. Holland and Mr. Zito asked Respondent if he had ever told female opposing counsel something similar to, “Will I get a better deal for my client if I argue or flirt with you?” Respondent replied that he sometimes asked female opposing counsel, “Will begging or flirting be more effective?”

During the April 26, 2021, meeting, Respondent was asked if he had ever told female staff or attorneys at the Will County Courthouse, “Nice dress, but it would look better on my floor.” Respondent replied, “I’ve told them they have a nice dress, but it would better if it was off.”

To a court employee

Respondent became agitated and asked R.B. if he “has ever heard the phrase ‘eat shit and die.’” In response, R.B. again explained to Respondent that he would have to fill out additional forms and file them electronically. Respondent then stated to R.B., “Eat shit and die,” and walked away.

(Mike Frisch)

November 20, 2023 in Bar Discipline & Process | Permalink | Comments (0)

Continuing Deprivation

A recent disbarment summarized on the web page of the Massachusetts Board of Bar Overseers

The respondent, who founded a small law firm, was admitted to the Massachusetts bar on December 12, 2008. The nine-count petition for discipline reflects serious and repeated misconduct, including intentional misuse of over a half million dollars in client funds with continuing deprivation. Ultimately, the respondent abandoned his practice in or around 2022 having taken and misused the funds. The respondent failed to reply to the petition and that default established the facts and violations set forth below.


The respondent did not answer the disciplinary petition and that default established the facts and violations set forth above. On June 12, 2023, the Board of Bar Overseers voted to recommend that the respondent be disbarred. On October 17, 2023, after notice and a remote zoom hearing on October 16, 2023 which was attended by Assistant Bar Counsel but not the respondent, the Court (Lowy, J.) ordered the respondent disbarred, effective immediately.

(Mike Frisch)

November 20, 2023 in Bar Discipline & Process | Permalink | Comments (0)

A Similar Name

A summary of an Affidavit of Resignation accepted by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court

The Petition for Discipline, the allegations of which were admitted for purposes of the Affidavit of Resignation, reflects that the respondent was charged with misrepresenting his professional background, experience, bar admissions and certifications to Sonesta International Hotels Corporation, a potential employer, in the hopes of securing employment there as an associate general counsel. He did this by appropriating the credentials of a better-qualified lawyer with a similar name. After Sonesta confronted the respondent, having checked his references and discovered irregularity, the respondent withdrew his application. Sonesta reported him to bar counsel, whereupon he knowingly and intentionally lied and provided false and misleading information.

Bar Counsel's position

As he was required to do under Board Policy No. 17, bar counsel submitted a letter to the Board addressing whether the conduct at issue would warrant disbarment. Bar counsel concluded that the misconduct would likely result in a term suspension, but not disbarment. Nonetheless, by vote dated October 10, 2023, the Board of Bar Overseers recommended to the S.J.C. that accept the respondent’s Affidavit of Resignation as a disciplinary sanction.

On November 1, 2023, the Single Justice (Kafker, J.) accepted the respondent’s Affidavit of Resignation as a disciplinary sanction.

(Mike Frisch)

November 20, 2023 in Bar Discipline & Process | Permalink | Comments (0)