Thursday, October 3, 2019
Personal note: my family used to vacation there in the mid-1950s. Some of my earliest memories.
On the first evening of the conference he went to the resort bar and was seated near female attendees.
As the evening progressed, Respondent consumed numerous alcoholic beverages and became increasing intoxicated.
He made "unwanted and inappropriate advances" toward the female attorneys, "touched two of the female attorneys on sensitive areas of their bodies," and began similar behavior toward a third victim.
He was escorted back to his room after the bar (not the Bar) declined to continue serving him alcoholic beverages.
He resigned from his firm (where he had been for 32 years and was managing partner) and was dismissed from the county bar association.
He pled guilty to harassment and disorderly conduct.
The parties jointly sought the public reprimand. (Mike Frisch)
Wednesday, October 2, 2019
A three-month suspension by the New York Appellate Division for the First Judicial Department
The Attorney Grievance Committee commenced this proceeding by petition containing three charges (Judiciary Law § 90, Rules for Attorney Disciplinary Matters [22 NYCRR], § 1240.8), alleging that respondent was guilty of misconduct in violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct by, inter alia, aiding a nonlawyer in the unauthorized practice of law. Respondent permitted an unlicensed law school graduate employed by his office to, inter alia, attend various preliminary conferences and to sign preliminary conference orders and stipulations as "attorney for plaintiff," and to appear for a client at a deposition. Respondent has no disciplinary history during his over 25 years of practicing law and has fully cooperated with the Committee.
From the Ohio Supreme Court - the most transparent bar discipline jurisdiction in the United States - is the list of hearings scheduled this month
Disciplinary Counsel v. Edward Paul Brueggeman
Case No. 2019-022
Respondent’s counsel: George D. Jonson, Cincinnati
Hearing location: Thomas J. Moyer Ohio Judicial Center, Moyer, 65 S. Front St., West Hearing Room 104, Columbus
Disciplinary Counsel v. Scott Atway
Case No. 2019-023
Respondent’s counsel: Lynn A. Maro, Boardman
Hearing location: 1 p.m.; Moyer Judicial Center, North Hearing Room 106
Disciplinary Counsel v. Jared Lee Wilson
Case No. 2019-009
Respondent’s counsel: Tracey A. Laslo, Alliance
Hearing location: Moyer Judicial Center, North Hearing Room 106
Disciplinary Counsel v. James Louis Reinheimer
Case No. 2019-021
Respondent’s counsel: Jonathan E. Coughlan, Columbus
Hearing location: Moyer Judicial Center, North Hearing Room 106
Disciplinary Counsel v. Hon. Rebecca L. Doherty
Case No. 2019-024
Respondent’s counsel: Peter T. Cahoon, Akron
Hearing location: Moyer Judicial Center, North Hearing Room 106
Disciplinary Counsel v. Harold McClure Schwarz III
Case No. 2019-033
Respondent’s counsel: Larry H. James, Columbus
Hearing location: Moyer Judicial Center, North Hearing Room 106
The links take you to every single pleading in every case.
James Bond step aside - nobody does it better. (Mike Frisch)
Former Luzerne County Judge Mark Ciavarella Jr. has consented to disbarment by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.
NPR reported on his horrific crimes
A Pennsylvania judge was sentenced to 28 years in prison in connection to a bribery scandal that roiled the state's juvenile justice system. Former Luzerne County Judge Mark Ciavarella Jr. was convicted of taking $1 million in bribes from developers of juvenile detention centers. The judge then presided over cases that would send juveniles to those same centers. The case came to be known as "kids-for-cash."
The AP adds:
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court tossed about 4,000 convictions issued by Ciavarella between 2003 and 2008, saying he violated the constitutional rights of the juveniles, including the right to legal counsel and the right to intelligently enter a plea.
Ciavarella, 61, was tried and convicted of racketeering charges earlier this year. His attorneys had asked for a "reasonable" sentence in court papers, saying, in effect, that he's already been punished enough.
"The media attention to this matter has exceeded coverage given to many and almost all capital murders, and despite protestation, he will forever be unjustly branded as the 'Kids for Cash' judge," their sentencing memo said.
The Times Leader, of Wilkes-Barre, Pa., reports that the court house in Scranton was overflowing this morning. More than a dozen people who said they had been affected by the judge's decision stood outside, awaiting the sentencing.
Jeff Pollins was in that crowd. His stepson was convicted by Ciavarella.
"These kids are still affected by it. It's like post traumatic stress disorder," Pollins told the Times Leader. "Our life is ruined. It's never going to be the same... I'd like to see that happen to him," he said.
In an unrelated matter, a former Pennsylvania judge was suspended for five years as a result of a false statement conviction. (Mike Frisch)
A disbarment order from the New Jersey Supreme Court
The Disciplinary Review Board having filed with the Court its decision in DRB 18-365, recommending that as a matter of final discipline pursuant to Rule 1:20-13(c)(2), Eyal Katzman, formerly of Kew Gardens, New York, who was admitted to the bar of this State in 2002, be disbarred based on respondent’s conviction in New York Supreme Court, Queens County, on two counts of third degree criminal sexual act (victim less than seventeen years old), contrary to N.Y.P.L. 130.40-2; three counts of third-degree patronizing a prostitute, contrary to N.Y.P.L. 1230.04; and three counts of endangering the welfare of a child, contrary to N.Y.P.L. 260.10-1, conduct that in New Jersey constitutes the violation of RPC 8.4 (b) (committing a criminal act that reflects adversely on the lawyer’s honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer);
And Eyal Katzman having failed to appear on the Order directing him to show cause why he should not be disbarred or otherwise disciplined;
And good cause appearing;
It is ORDERED that Eyal Katzman be disbarred, effective immediately, and that his name be stricken from the roll of attorneys;
ORDERED that Eyal Katzman be and hereby is permanently restrained and enjoined from practicing law...
From the New York Daily News
A Queens lawyer has been convicted of paying two underage high school girls to have oral sex with him, officials said Friday.
Eyal Katzman, 58, was found guilty Thursday of several counts of criminal sex act and patronizing a prostitute for abusing the two then 16-year-olds in 2012.
A jury has convicted the defendant of being a sexual predator," said Queens District Attorney Richard Brown. "As such, he has proven himself to be a threat to children and a clear and present danger to society in general. His conviction ensures that he is punished for his crimes."
The victims, classmates at John Adams High School, testified during the three-day trial in Queens Supreme Court.
A subcommittee of the Virginia State Bar Disciplinary Board approved a public reprimand without terms.
At all times relevant hereto, Respondent has been an attorney licensed to practice law in the Commonwealth of Virginia. At varying times detailed below, including from March 12, 2014 to the present, Respondent’s license to practice was not in good standing due to his failure to pay his bar dues and/or complete his annual MCLE requirements. Respondent’s license to practice law in Virginia is presently not in good standing due to his failure to meet his annual MCLE obligation.
Respondent was licensed to practice law in the Commonwealth of Virginia in October 1988. He began employment with the United States Department of Justice (“DOJ”) in 1997 where he remained until his resignation from DOJ on February 19, 2016. During his tenure with DOJ, Respondent was a trial attorney initially assigned to the Narcotics and Dangerous Drug Section of the Criminal Division.
The duties of a DOJ trial attorney require an active license to practice law in at least one state or territory of the United States, the District of Columbia, or the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. Accordingly, as a condition of employment, all DOJ trial attorneys must have an active license to practice. In addition, all DOJ attorneys must certify annually that their license to practice law in the jurisdiction in which they are licensed is in good standing.
From 1998 through to the present time, Respondent allowed his license to practice law in Virginia to be suspended ten (10) times for failing to pay dues and/or failing to complete required hours of MCLE. During the period of each suspension, Respondent remained employed by DOJ as a trial attorney. Respondent did not inform his supervisors or anyone else at DOJ of these suspensions.
The Agreed disposition lists the dates of suspension.
Respondent’s license to practice law in Virginia has now been suspended for nearly five (5) years.
As to the claim that he had waived into the Bar of Puerto Rico
The VSB contacted officials in Puerto Rico who did not have a record of Respondent having waived into the bar of Puerto Rico.
Respondent explained that his many suspensions were the result of extensive travel and the attendant difficulties that caused with attending CLE courses, and also resulted from health issues he experienced during some of the relevant time period including a hospitalization for ulcerative colitis.
Respondent also stated that during much of his tenure abroad, he was working for the embassies of East Timor and Bangladesh training law enforcement personnel, and was not engaged in the practice of law.
Respondent is taking steps to restore his license to practice and has of this date paid all past due bar dues. He is currently working on completing his MCLE requirements.
Respondent has been licensed to practice law in the Commonwealth of Virginia since 1988 and has no prior disciplinary record.
Tuesday, October 1, 2019
A three-month suspension and a censure from the Oklahoma Supreme Court for suggestive communications with clients
Mr. Stout received his license to practice law in Oklahoma in 1983. In February 2017, C.B. hired Mr. Stout to represent her in a juvenile deprived action. C. B. was the aunt of the deprived juvenile and was seeking full guardianship of her nephew and ultimately desired to adopt her nephew. During the course of the representation, Mr. Stout made unwanted sexual advances towards C.B. and sent her sexually suggestive emails. He also requested his client send him sexually suggestive photographs. Mr. Stout tried to hide his sexually suggestive communications requesting that their "private" communications be conducted through Facebook Messenger and that business communications be conducted through text. On more than one occasion, Mr. Stout requested that C.B. delete the messages he sent, because his wife did not know about these conversations.
Mr. Stout appeared in court on behalf of C. B. three or four times. She testified before the Trial Panel that she believed Mr. Stout had provided competent representation in court and she had no problem with the quality of his representation. However, C.B. did not reciprocate the feelings for Mr. Stout and she testified that she felt uncomfortable with his continued representation. C. B. terminated the attorney-client relationship with Mr. Stout and then retained a different attorney who provided legal services pro bono to complete the outstanding legal matters. C.B. testified that this incident has not caused her to mistrust lawyers.
Mr. Stout admitted to the Trial Panel that he sent sexually suggestive comments to C.B. by text message and social media. He admitted these actions toward his client were improper and created harm to his client.
Mr. Stout voluntarily contacted Lawyers Helping Lawyers (LHL) within days after receiving the OBA letter notifying him of the formal complaint filed against him regarding his actions toward C.B. and C.R. A person connected with LHL suggested Mr. Stout consider obtaining treatment from a sexual addiction in-patient treatment center in Tennessee. Mr. Stout immediately followed up on this recommendation and within three days he was admitted for in-patient treatment. He completed the program and remains faithful to his follow-up care. He has admitted to his improper behavior and expressed deep remorse over the effect of his actions on C.B.
In 2016, C.R. retained Mr. Stout to represent her in a divorce case. In the course of this representation, Mr. Stout sent sexually suggestive text messages to C.R. with instructions to delete the messages after reading them. Mr. Stout explained to C.R. that neither his wife or C.R.'s boyfriend need to see what he was sending via text. Mr. Stout also engaged in text communication with C.R. that included crude sexual remarks about C.B., who was also a friend of C.R.
Because of the sexual overtones in the communications, C.R. did not feel like Mr. Stout was 100% focused on representing her in her divorce matter. Although she was uncomfortable with his actions, she wanted her divorce completed as quickly as possible so she did not terminate the attorney relationship. Toward the end of the representation, she personally handled modifying some of the child support documents in order to avoid having additional communications or interactions with Mr. Stout.
Mr. Stout admitted to his improper behavior and that his client had no intention of seeking any sexual relationship from him. He took full responsibility for his actions and said that at the time he engaged in this behavior his thinking was distorted from his sexual addiction.
In 2016, L.B. retained Mr. Stout to represent her in a criminal matter. A mutual friend indicated that Mr. Stout would work with her with respect to payment of legal fees. L.B. understood this to mean a payment plan would be worked out. L.B. then contacted Mr. Stout who agreed to accept representation for the fee of $7500. L.B. did not have a drivers license or ability to come to his office so Mr. Stout offered to meet L.B. in her home. L.B. did not have money at the time to pay, and she wound up having sex with Mr. Stout that evening "because [she] was in a desperate situation." This was the only sexual encounter they had. L.B. testified she paid the entire amount of the requested fee in payments over time by cash and by check. Although no contract was signed, Mr. Stout believes that he may have given her a reduced fee following the sexual encounter. Neither L.B. or Mr. Stout has exact records as to the amount paid in fees. Both parties agree that L.B. did pay money for the legal services.
Mr. Stout admitted to the sexual encounter at the PRT hearing, and he also assumed full responsibility for his actions and made clear that L.B. did not encourage this behavior. Mr. Stout expressed remorse and further admitted to the PRT that L.B. "didn't make any suggestion. It was all -- it all started because of me, not because of her."
At the time of the OBA investigative interview, the OBA only had knowledge of Mr. Stout's alleged improper conduct toward C.B. and C.R. However, when the OBA investigator asked Mr. Stout if he had been inappropriate with any other clients, he voluntarily told the investigator about L.B. Prior to this interview, the OBA had no knowledge that Mr. Stout had a sexual encounter with a client. Although Mr. Stout thought it was extremely unlikely L.B. would ever come forward to the OBA, Mr. Stout wanted to be honest and forthright, because he believed it was important to "tell them the truth." Without Mr. Stout's honesty, the OBA may not have ever known about this encounter.
The OBA has established by clear and convincing evidence that the respondent, Richard E. Stout, violated Rules 1.7, 1.8 (j) and 8.4 of the ORPC and Rule 1.3 of the RGDP. Mr. Stout is suspended from the practice of law for three months, ordered to pay costs in the amount of $1,579.51, in addition to the following conditions: (1) Mr. Stout shall not accept female clients and will not meet alone with a female at any time associated with his practice of law; (2) he will remain in treatment as recommended by his counselor; (3) he will remain in contact with Lawyers Helping Lawyers; and (4) he will maintain site blocking protection on his electronic devices.
The District of Columbia has recommended that an attorney's consent to disbarment be accepted.
We reported on the charges
The District of Columbia Disciplinary Counsel has filed a complaint alleging a host of ethics violations by an attorney who represented the Reverend Merrie Turner in her effort to hold an inauguration day prayer breakfast in the Presidential Ballroom of the Trump International Hotel in 2017.
The hotel sought to avoid the contract by invoking a force majeure clause.
The reverend took exception and retained respondent to pursue a claim against the alleged culprit - the 58th Presidential Inauguration Committee.
The breakfast went off as planned, but the concerns remained.
Respondent filed suit in Superior Court against the inauguration committee, seeking $1 million damages for tortious interference with contractual relations. Before the suit, he had reached out to Manafort associate Rick Gates in an effort to resolve the dispute through negotiation.
He is alleged to have used advanced funds designated for litigation costs for his own purposes (such as a gym membership and his personal phone bill).
He also allegedly misused a portion of the $40,000 settlement achieved in the litigation. The failure to pay Rev. Turner from the settlement proceeds led to her bar complaint.
The most serious of the ensuing bar charges allege that he intentionally and/or recklessly misappropriated entrusted funds. The presumptive sanction if this charge is proven is disbarment.
The case is In re Michael G. Hoehn, Docket No. 2017-D345.
The Court of Appeals must act on the board recommendation. (Mike Frisch)
An attorney's effort to avoid interim suspension in an investigation of his escrow account fell on the deaf ears of the New York Appellate Division for the First Judicial Department
The AGC maintains that respondent's repeated invasions of the $8,000 down payment constitutes conversion and/or misappropriation of third-party funds (including his disbursement of funds for the investigative and secretarial work on behalf of the seller-estate because the buyer never authorized the use of her funds to pay for these services), in addition to which he improperly made three cash withdrawals from his escrow account and engaged in commingling on at least two occasions. The AGC argues that respondent's conversion and/or misappropriation of third-party funds evidences professional misconduct that immediately threatens the public interest for which his interim suspension is warranted.
In a letter dated July 26, 2019, respondent's counsel states that "we do not object to granting the motion to the extent of ordering a hearing." Accompanying this letter is an affirmation in opposition from respondent, who is 86-years-old. Respondent admits that he "failed to properly monitor [his] escrow account," but argues that any suspension would be unnecessary and disproportionate because no client suffered a loss or even lodged a complaint. As to the $5,000 check issued against the escrow account and which invaded the down payment, respondent has no present recollection of who this payee is or why the check was issued. As to the fact that it drew against the buyer's funds, he claims that he was entitled to substantial legal fees for work done on behalf of the seller-estate, and at the time the sale was canceled, he had sufficient funds on deposit in his escrow account to return the $8,000 down payment.
Respondent asks that this Court take into account his prior public service, his military service, and his community service; that the conduct at issue occurred in the midst of an acrimonious separation from his former law partner, who has brought litigation against respondent, the stress of which has affected his health (he cites to a medical diagnosis two years ago just before issuance of the dishonored check which triggered the AGC's investigation); and that he has submitted letters from former clients attesting to the quality of his representation.
Respondent maintains that, as he has no pension, savings, or investments upon which he can rely, an interim suspension would leave him and his wife (who is unable to work due to health issues) without means of financial support. Furthermore, he is presently working on time sensitive legal matters with deadlines and statutes of limitations that are running. In light of the foregoing, respondent requests that no interim suspension be imposed and that he be granted a hearing, and advises that he "intend[s] to terminate [his] practice at the end of this year, and retire, hopefully with dignity, so that [he] can teach, write, or perform other services which enable [him] to support [his] family."
Pursuant to 22 NYCRR 1240.9(a), this Court may suspend an attorney from the practice of law, "on an interim basis during the pendency of an investigation or proceeding on application or motion of a Committee ... and upon a finding by the Court that the respondent has engaged in conduct immediately threatening the public interest." The AGC relies on 1240.9(a)'s provisions that interim suspension may be based upon "(2) the respondent's admission under oath to the commission of professional misconduct... or (5) other uncontroverted evidence of professional misconduct."
That burden was met here. (Mike Frisch)
The North Carolina Supreme Court has censured a General Court of Justice judge for abusing the contempt power
After the boys told Respondent that they would rather have their mother go to jail than visit with their father, Respondent became deeply concerned and stated “my children would never allow me to go to jail for any reason whatsoever . . . I’m appalled because my children respect me so much they would never allow that to happen.” Respondent vigorously questioned and explained the profound significance and detrimental impact their refusal to visit with their father would have on themselves and their mother.
After hearing from the boys that they had an understanding of the consequences of their refusal to comply with a court order, Respondent then ordered the bailiff to handcuff Ms. Morrow and place her in a holding cell. Ms. Morrow’s counsel immediately objected to the decision to put her into custody because no contempt hearing had taken place and neither counsel nor his client were given an opportunity to be heard. Respondent nevertheless instructed the bailiff to take Ms. Morrow to a holding cell over her counsel’s objections.
After Ms. Morrow was handcuffed and removed from the courtroom, Respondent again asked the twin boys to stand and then proceeded to convey to them how “appalled” she was at their behavior and how “ashamed” they should be of themselves for allowing their mother to go to jail for their behavior. During this colloquy, Respondent also lectured the twin boys about her personal experiences as a parent as well as her experiences as a certified juvenile judge. Respondent shared personal stories, as well as disturbing cases she had presided over where children had suffered unfortunate outcomes.
Respondent informed the boys that if their mother was found in contempt, she would go to jail for sixty (60) days and explained that meant they would be in their father’s custody for that entire time. Respondent appealed to the boys’ sense of reason by questioning whether it made more sense to spend six (6) days of visitation with their father as originally ordered, or sixty (60) days while their mother was incarcerated. The boys finally relented and agreed to visit their father.
The facts establish that Respondent acted with the specific intent to avoid what Respondent referred to as a “full-blown hearing,” which Respondent admitted could not properly go forward because of inadequate notice. The facts also establish that this conduct was not a mere “error of judgment or mere lack of diligence” but was intentional and part of Respondent’s admitted pattern of ordering litigants into temporary custody to achieve compliance with her directives without resort to the contempt power.
Importantly, Respondent has indicated that her decision to order Ms. Morrow into custody and her threats and harsh language directed to the boys were undertaken with benevolent motives to “deescalate an unfortunate situation and resolve the visitation issues without further involving the Court.” Even so, “bad faith” includes “any knowing misuse of the office, whatever the motive.” In re Nowell, 293 N.C. at 248. The facts establish that Respondent acted in bad faith because she had “[a] specific intent to use the powers of the judicial office to accomplish a purpose which the judge knew or should have known was beyond the legitimate exercise of [her] authority. [sic] Id. Respondent concedes this point as well.
The court favorably considered her candor and cooperation. (Mike Frisch)
Monday, September 30, 2019
The Indiana Supreme Court affirmed the dismissal of allegations of "offensive personality" against an attorney
Charges: The Commission alleged that Respondent violated Indiana Professional Conduct Rule 8.4(d) by engaging in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice and Indiana Admission and Discipline Rule 22 by engaging in acts constituting an offensive personality.
Discussion: The hearing officer concluded the Commission failed to meet its burden of proving that Respondent committed any professional misconduct, and the Commission has not filed a petition for review. “Where . . . the hearing officer’s report is unchallenged, we accept and adopt the findings contained therein with the understanding that final determination as to disciplinary violations and sanction rests with this Court.” Matter of Davis, 740 N.E.2d 855, 856 (Ind. 2001). Accordingly, we adopt and incorporate by reference the hearing officer’s findings of fact, and on those findings we likewise conclude that the Commission has failed to prove either of the two charged rule violations.
The Indiana Lawyer has the story
A Martinsville attorney who tried to intervene in a CHINS case and brought a knife and body camera into the courtroom has been cleared of ethical wrongdoing after the Indiana Supreme Court concluded he did not engage in professional misconduct.
Gabriel S. Britton’s troubles began in September 2017, when he was denied a motion to intervene in a closed child in need of services case on behalf of a grandmother, who was determined to have no legal rights to intervene. Meanwhile, Sara Waltz, the wife of Britton’s friend, served as the children’s court appointed special advocate.
Before a review hearing was to take place for the CHINS case, Britton emailed his friend and said he was about to “go crush sarahs (sic) dreams in court.” Britton then proceeded to appear at the review hearing with his client, despite having been denied his motion.
Before entering the courtroom, the complaint alleged Britton spoke with a Department of Child Services attorney who mistakenly believed Britton represented one of the parties and proceeded to give him a confidential case review report.
According to the commission’s complaint, Britton should have known he was not entitled to the report and should have informed the DCS attorney of that fact. When the review hearing began, Britton and his client entered but were ordered to leave, and as he exited Britton flippantly said the judge “could not terminate genetics.”
Outside the courtroom, Britton interjected into a private conversation between the children’s mother and a case manager, telling the mother not to listen to Waltz because she was “stupid and doesn’t know a damn thing.” Further, although Britton was told to return the confidential report, he did not do so.
The complaint also noted an interaction in which Britton dropped off his computer for his friend at Waltz’s home and responded explicitly via text when she asked why he was there. Waltz reported Britton to her supervisor after he left her home in what she considered to be an intimidating manner with “squealing tires or making other noise” with his truck.
The complaint further alleged that on numerous occasions Britton entered the courthouse carrying a small knife, and was informed he had to walk through metal detector after the Morgan County judges issued a special directive to security requiring he do so. Britton responded by referring to the judges as “those faggots” and proceeded to appear at the courthouse wearing a body camera clipped to his clothing, the complaint alleged.
Britton was later reminded by the court that video recording was prohibited in the courtroom. Additionally, the complaint alleged Britton requested a security guard to accompany him in the courtroom because he wanted protection and to “prevent false accusations from being made against him.”
The Board of Judges of Morgan County filed its request for investigation with the Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission, which alleged in its complaint that Britton violated Indiana Professional Conduct Rule 8.4(d) and Indiana Admission and Discipline Rule 22 by engaging in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice and acts constituting an offensive personality, respectively.
In a Thursday order, the justices noted the hearing officer in Britton’s case concluded the commission failed to meet its burden of proving that Britton had committed any professional misconduct. It also noted the commission did not file a petition for review.
“Accordingly, we adopt and incorporate by reference the hearing officer’s findings of fact, and on those findings we likewise conclude that the Commission has failed to prove either of the two charged rule violations,” Chief Justice Loretta Rush wrote for the unanimous court.
Big news from Ohio
The Ohio Board of Professional Conduct has appointed Joseph M. Caligiuri as disciplinary counsel for the state of Ohio. The Supreme Court announced approval of the appointment today.
Caligiuri is appointed to a four-year term of office, effective Oct. 27. He replaces Scott J. Drexel, who has served as disciplinary counsel since October 2013 and who declined to seek a new, four-year term. Caligiuri is the seventh person to serve full-time as disciplinary counsel since the position was established by the Supreme Court in 1977.
Caligiuri has worked in the Office of Disciplinary Counsel since 2002 and has served as chief assistant in the office since October 2012. Caligiuri is president of the Association of Judicial Disciplinary Counsel, a national organization that promotes the integrity and effectiveness of state judicial disciplinary agencies. For the past 11 years, he has been an adjunct professor of law in professional responsibility at the Ohio State University Moritz College of Law. Prior to joining the Office of Disciplinary Counsel, Caligiuri worked for more than three years as an assistant district attorney in Buffalo, New York.
The Office of Disciplinary Counsel investigates allegations of ethical misconduct against Ohio lawyers and judges and prosecutes formal complaints before the Board of Professional Conduct. The office also provides training to local certified grievance committees and participates in continuing education activities for lawyers and judges.
Rule V of the Supreme Court Rules for the Government of the Bar of Ohio vests responsibility for appointing disciplinary counsel with the Board of Professional Conduct. The board’s appointment is subject to approval by the Supreme Court.
“It is a great honor and privilege to be selected as the state’s next disciplinary counsel,” Caligiuri said. “The Office of Disciplinary Counsel performs a vital function in protecting the public from the few lawyers and judges whose actions reflect poorly upon the legal profession and promotes, through education and outreach, the highest standards of ethics and professionalism. As disciplinary counsel, I will strive to ensure that our office approaches each task efficiently and with the utmost integrity, respect, and fairness.”
“The Board of Professional Conduct is pleased to name Joe Caligiuri as Ohio’s Disciplinary Counsel,” said Judge John W. Wise, chair of the Board of Professional Conduct and a judge on the Fifth District Court of Appeals. “Joe has a reputation for fairness, professionalism, and collegiality, and his experience in the Ohio disciplinary process is unparalleled.”
Caligiuri was selected from among 18 applicants for the position. The board’s seven-member search committee was chaired by Toledo lawyer Patricia A. Wise.
Sunday, September 29, 2019
The single best feature of membership in the District of Columbia Bar is the absence of any continuing legal education (CLE) obligations.
Not so for most Bars such as Kansas per these hearing panel findings
On September 8, 2017, while attending the in-person video replay CLE program, the respondent also viewed online on-demand CLE programs offered by Lawline. The respondent completed five online on-demand CLE programs offered by Lawline at 12:35 p.m., 2:10 p.m., 4:06 p.m., 5:23 p.m., and 10:53 p.m. For the Missouri bar, the respondent certified that he 'listened/viewed the program in a setting suitable to the course and a suitable writing surface was available.' Just below the respondent's signatures, the five certificates included statements that a 'materially false statement shall be subject to appropriate disciplinary action.'
The respondent forwarded information to the Kansas CLE Commission claiming that he attended 400 minutes of CLE for eight hours of CLE credit, including zero hours of ethics credit, for attending the in-person video replay CLE program. The respondent also forwarded information to the Kansas CLE Commission claiming 360 minutes of CLE credit, including 120 minutes of ethics credit for viewing the online on demand CLE programs offered by Lawline. The Kansas CLE Commission received the information from the respondent on September 11, 2017.
No multitasking allowed.
When the issue came to light
After learning that the respondent was claiming more than eight hours of CLE credit for one day, Shelley Sutton, Executive Director of the Kansas CLE Commission called the respondent. Ms. Sutton asked the respondent whether he viewed the online courses while in attendance at the in-person video replay CLE program. The respondent falsely denied doing so. The respondent claimed that during the in-person video replay CLE program, the respondent merely logged into the Lawline website to print out the certificates of attendance. Ms. Sutton asked the respondent to contact Lawline and request the 'backlog' which would show the respondent's login and logoff times and polling verification.
About an hour later, the respondent called Ms. Sutton and admitted to her that he had watched the online programs while in attendance at the in-person video replay program. Ms. Sutton recommended that the respondent self-report his conduct to the disciplinary administrator's office. Ms. Sutton informed the respondent that he would not receive credit for any of the programming he attended on September 8, 2017.
He self-reported the misconduct.
He had had prior admonitions for Rule 1.1 and 1.4 violations.
The evidence before the hearing panel establishes by clear and convincing evidence the charged conduct violated KRPC 8.4(c) (2019 Kan. S. Ct. R. 387) (conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation), 8.4(g) (2019 Kan. S. Ct. R. 387) (conduct adversely reflecting on lawyer's fitness to practice law), and Supreme Court Rule 211(b) (2019 Kan. S. Ct. R. 257) (failure to file timely answer in disciplinary proceeding). We adopt the panel's findings and conclusions.
The only remaining issue is determining the appropriate discipline for respondent's violations. The hearing panel unanimously recommended respondent receive a censure and that the censure be published in the Kansas Reports.
The court imposed the proposed censure.
Oral argument video linked here. (Mike Frisch)
Saturday, September 28, 2019
A "donations" web page for a law firm and other misconduct drew a three-year suspension from the New York Appellate Division for the Fourth Judicial Department.
By order entered December 5, 2017, this Court suspended respondent from the practice of law during the pendency of a disciplinary investigation, pursuant to 22 NYCRR 1240.9 (a), based on uncontroverted proof that she made false or misleading statements on her law firm website and failed to respond to a lawful demand of the Grievance Committee.
In addition to two client complaints and failure to respond
With respect to charge three, respondent admits that, before she was suspended on an interim basis in December 2017, she used her law firm website to solicit donations to a fund entitled “law firm support fund for indigent clients and attorneys” and that any such donations would have been deposited into a bank account in her own name. Respondent also admits that, although her website stated that her law firm was “a New York firm, with Arizona PLLC” that maintained “satellite offices” in Oklahoma, she was not admitted to practice law in Arizona or Oklahoma.
In determining an appropriate sanction, we have considered the nature of respondent’s admitted misconduct, which includes direct harm to two clients, and her failure to participate in this proceeding. Accordingly, we conclude that respondent should be suspended from the practice of law for a period of three years and until further order of this Court.
The New York Appellate Division for the Fourth Judicial Department has imposed a three-year suspension for a series of offenses committed in Florida
In September 2018, respondent advised the Grievance Committee that, from 2009 through 2016, he was convicted of several misdemeanor crimes in Florida, including petit theft, disorderly intoxication, obstructing or resisting an officer without violence, and reckless driving. Respondent also advised the Grievance Committee that, in December 2017, a judgment was entered in Circuit Court for the Seventh Judicial Circuit for Volusia County upon respondent’s plea of nolo contendere to two felony crimes, i.e., battery on a person 65 years of age or older (Fla Stat § 784.08  [c]) and domestic battery by strangulation (Fla Stat § 784.041  [a]). The judgment of Circuit Court indicates that, upon entry of respondent’s plea, the court withheld adjudication of guilt and sentenced respondent to three years of probation, which included mandatory substance abuse treatment.
In determining an appropriate sanction, we have considered the lengthy course of misconduct that gave rise to respondent’s misdemeanor convictions and the serious nature of the allegations that gave rise to the aforementioned felony charges to which respondent entered a plea of nolo contendere. We have also considered the matters in mitigation submitted by respondent, including his statement that the misconduct did not concern his practice of law or negatively affect clients and that the misconduct was primarily attributable to his long-standing alcohol and substance abuse issues, for which he has sought treatment. We have further considered respondent’s statement that he has remained sober since September 2017.
Friday, September 27, 2019
An attorney's texts to his DUI client led to a public reprimand by the Arizona Presiding Disciplinary Judge.
The client had paid a $4,500 non-refundable fee.
After the attorney had done work for the fee, he texted her
May I come tuck you in before you go to sleep tonight?
The client demurred, citing a test she needed to study for.
"His flirtatious texting continued."
After one text, the client got texts from the attorney's wife that were "rude, uncalled for, and caused by [the attorney's] actions."
Curious readers can peruse the various communications in the attachment to the stipulations.
The client blocked the wife and asked him to "keep her out of the drama he was causing."
The exchanges made her "uncomfortable" (unsurprisingly, as the wife accused her of sleeping with her husband and repeatedly used the pejorative "hoe").
She retained successor counsel.
The attorney must also refund $1,500 of the fee. (Mike Frisch)
The recipient of one of the biggest breaks in District of Columbia Bar history - a big firm lawyer who never served a day of suspension for a felony hit-and-run conviction - deserves another for false statements to a court and colleague in a motion for pro hac vice admission according to a Hearing Committee report issued today.
Neither Mr. Fink nor Mr. Rohde was admitted to practice in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. Mr. Fink asked Ms. Schellenger, who was admitted there, to move his own and Mr. Rohde’s admissions pro hac vice on behalf of Damco. DX 1 at 96 (Affidavit of Kathryn Ruth Yingling Schellenger); Tr. 114 (Schellenger: “It was Marc Fink who asked me to do it.”); Tr. 137-38 (Schellenger).
The sponsoring counsel was not advised
Ms. Schellenger testified that she would not have signed and filed the application with the Eastern District of Virginia if she had known about Mr. Rohde’s felony conviction or the pending disciplinary proceedings. DX 1 at 97, ¶ 6 (Schellenger Affidavit); Tr. 117 (Schellenger). She viewed the information as relevant because she believed that the disciplinary proceedings pertained to his “conduct or fitness as a member of the bar.” Tr. 116-17 (Schellenger).
The committee rejected claims of offensive collateral estoppel and dealt with complex choice of law issues in finding misconduct.
He knowingly omitted the pending bar matter in the pro hac motion
The Hearing Committee also finds clear and convincing evidence that Respondent knew in 2005 that there were proceedings against him before the D.C. Court of Appeals pertaining to his conduct and fitness as a member of the bar. His counsel filed two briefs on his behalf. RX 2; RX 4. Disciplinary Counsel’s brief was served on Respondent himself, albeit care of his counsel. RX 3 at 12. And, of course, the question on the table was whether Respondent’s license to practice law should be immediately suspended.
...The Hearing Committee therefore concludes that Respondent possessed actual knowledge of D.C. action No. 05-BG-1141 when he made the false statement on the pro hac vice form. In so concluding, the Hearing Committee does not believe that Respondent lied in his testimony in this matter. As noted supra, Respondent’s testimony was careful and precise. When speaking in his own words, he never claimed to have forgotten D.C. action No. 05-BG-1141 – he merely claimed not to have focused on it at the time he signed the pro hac vice form.
And misled his sponsor
the Hearing Committee finds that Disciplinary Counsel has proven by clear and convincing evidence that Respondent understood that Ms. Schellenger wanted to know about his criminal and disciplinary history, and that he deliberately failed to disclose that fact in an effort to mislead her. Regardless of what conclusion Respondent & Mr. Fink reached, as counsel of record and lead local counsel in the E.D. Va. matter, and as the person who was signing her name to the pro hac vice application, Ms. Schellenger was entitled to consider the facts for herself and form her own opinion. Certainly the E.D. Va. would have expected her so to do. Ms. Schellenger’s testimony before the Hearing Committee was quite clear and quite emphatic on the point that she considered these facts to be highly material to her decision to sponsor Respondent, and we find that those sentiments were clear to Respondent at the time. The Hearing Committee finds her credible and credits her testimony as clear and convincing evidence of Respondent’s knowledge that his criminal and disciplinary history was something she would have expected to be told before sponsoring him.
As to the prior discipline, a double dose of disingenuous dispensation
Respondent has previous disciplinary history – to wit, his felony hit-and-run conviction at issue in Rohde I. The Hearing Committee is of the view that it would be inappropriate to enhance Respondent’s sanction based on the conduct at issue in Rohde I, for two reasons.
First, to do so would undermine the application of Kersey mitigation. As the Board and the Court of Appeals determined, Respondent qualified for Kersey mitigation due to his substantial rehabilitation from alcoholism. See DX 3 at 59, 91 (Board Report); DX 3 at 93 (Court of Appeals opinion). To enhance Respondent’s sanction in this matter due to the events of Rohde I would, in essence, be to impose a sanction that the Board and the Court of Appeals found inappropriate under Kersey.
Second, Respondent’s conduct in this matter is not a repetition of the misconduct at issue in Rohde I.
Please take a moment to understand this.
He got off scot free for a FELONY conviction because he was a recovering alcoholic.
Here, he lied about that fact and the resulting bar litigation while he was sober and in recovery!
To ignore that he engaged in serious misconduct while sober is what "undermines the application of Kersey mitigation."
The recommendation for a public censure can be found in In re Wayne Rohde (link here). (Mike Frisch)
A Michigan Tri-County Hearing Panel has disbarred former judge Jarod Calkins in the wake of his conviction by plea to four counts of felony misconduct in office.
The Monroe News reported on the crimes.
Victims ranged from 19 to 22 and each was described as being vulnerable and naive, according to prosecutors.
Encounters with Calkins were described to have been initiated through dating sites like OkCupid and Tinder. Calkins initiated the encounters, which were held at area motels and his home; the women were not soliciting.
While the women said they initially thought the encounters would be “fun” or “playful,” they said activities became “painful” and “torturous.”
One woman said an encounter, which included choking and electrocution, felt “like a beating” and created bruises and welts that lasted up to two weeks and left her with permanent nerve damage.
Another victim said she was “frightened for (her) life.”
“He would pull me in with sweet messages and then torture me when we were together,” Victim 1 said. “He was aggressive and used physical control.”
Most victims said they now suffer from post-traumatic stress, have struggled with trusting men and must attend frequent counseling sessions.
The bar proceedings were delayed by his incarceration and he participated by video.
As to the crimes
Respondent testified that beginning in late 2015, he opened up accounts on dating sites, tinder and OkCupid, created profiles and titled them "Sugar Daddy Looking." Respondent received responses from various women and in his conversations with them, when they began to discuss meeting up and engaging in sexual activity, the women wanted to know what they were going to get out of the relationship, since he advertised he was a "Sugar Daddy." Respondent agreed to pay them cash or gie them gifts in order to engage in sex with them. Respondent stated it was obviously solicitation of prostitution. Respondent further testified that at least two of the women were interested in BDSM activities. Respondent stated that of the four women he met with, two were interested in BDSM activities, met with him and they engaged in those activities on multiple occasions. He maintained that those activities were consensual. As for the other two women, respondent testified that he met one of them only once and no BDSM was involved, and the other woman there was no sexual activity whatever.
He explained that he "was under extreme stress, both at home and work" and sought a lesser sanction.
The panel on sanction
Respondent, a public officer entrusted with important civic and judicial responsibilities, admits to having repeatedly engaged in criminal conduct, always aware that it was illegal and that its exposure would have profoundly deleterious impacts on both the bar and the judiciary. In seeking to avoid disbarment, respondent principally relied on his contention that the women he illegally solicited ad seriatim and/or with whom he engaged in sexual relations gave their consent to all his conduct, including the conduct that he himself admitted was sadomasochistic. The contention holds no sway. The issue of consent is irrelevant; it does not lessen the illegality of respondent's conduct and the adverse impact it had on his victims, society and its faith in government... meaningful "consent," as that term is commonly understood...could not plausibly have been given by respondent's victims, all of whom were young, disadvantaged and susceptible to exploitation and/or traumatization.
Exercising discretion to disbar
Were it not to do so, the hearing panel would be sending unacceptable messages about the seriousness of respondent's misconduct. It inexcusably would be suggesting that society need not meaningfully confront the destructive and exploitative behaviors brought to light by the "Me Too" movement.
Hearing Panel sanction orders may be reviewed by the Attorney Discipline Board. (Mike Frisch)
An attorney who was disbarred by the Washington State Supreme Court, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and the United States Supreme Court had future unauthorized practice enjoined by the South Carolina Supreme Court.
Respondent is currently the sole proprietor of Chartmans, Inc. According to the company's website, Chartmans "serves as a legal consultant to federal workers, contractors, foreign states, statesmen and companies doing business abroad. In today’s world, legal representation is essential. Whether it is in U.S. administrative hearings, before international tribunals, foreign courts, or in mediations and arbitrations abroad, CHARTMANS ensures its clients continue to grow through compassionate problem-solving, pragmatic negotiations and unwavering litigation." The website further states, "If you are a federal contractor or employed by a federal agency, department or entity in the United States or overseas and are dealing with an employment dispute, you need adequate legal representation. Any problem you may run into in dealing with employment
discrimination, work-place disputes or business problems in the States or overseas, Chartmans is prepared to provide comprehensive and compassionate representation." Respondent's biographical information on the website states, "Mr. Marshall is a conciliator, broker and litigator" and indicates he has "considerable experience as an American lawyer, cleric and foreign legal and business consultant." Chartmans' letterhead indicates the company specializes in "Longshore and Federal Worker Claims."
Pursuant to the regulation in effect at the time of Respondent's actions, 29 C.F.R. §18.34(g)(2) (2011), any citizen who is not an attorney was permitted to appear in a representative capacity in an adjudicative proceeding before the Department of Labor's Office of Administrative Law Judges (OALJ). Claims under the Longshoremen's and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act (Longshoremen's Act) are decided by the OALJ. After his disbarment, Respondent represented numerous clients in Longshoremen's Act claims before the OALJ.
He was disqualified from appearing in a representative capacity before the OALJ.
On November 2, 2011, United States Department of Labor Administrative Law Judge Jennifer Gee disqualified Respondent from appearing before the OALJ in a case arising under the Longshoremen's Act because he was an attorney as defined by 29 C.F.R. § 18.34(g)(1) and, therefore, could not appear as a non-attorney as defined by 29 C.F.R. § 18.34(g)(2).
The order was affirmed by the Fourth Circuit.
Because whether Respondent's representation of Longshoremen's Act clients before the OALJ prior to the orders prohibiting him from appearing before the OALJ constituted UPL is a question for federal determination, we express no opinion as to the propriety of that representation. However, we hold any representation of clients by Respondent in actions before the OALJ after he was prohibited from appearing before the OALJ constitutes UPL and enjoin Respondent from any further representation of clients before the OALJ.
The South Carolina Supreme Court imposed a consent disbarment
Respondent was convicted of one count of criminal solicitation of a minor and received a sentence of seven years' imprisonment, suspended to five years' probation. Respondent has completed his period of probation and is listed on the state-wide sex offender registry.
He has been suspended since 2006
Respondent requests his disbarment be imposed retroactively to May 17, 2006, the date of his interim suspension. In re Odom, S.C. Sup. Ct. Order dated May 17, 2006. We accept the Agreement and disbar Respondent from the practice of law in this state, retroactive to the date of his interim suspension.
The Independent Mail reported on the 2011 verdict
After five and a half hours Thursday night an Oconee County jury split its verdicts on a former Aiken County attorney charged with two counts of criminal solicitation of a minor.
Anthony Odom, 38, will see no time in jail, however, unless he fails to keep to the terms of his sentence.
The seven-woman, five-man jury found Odom guilty on the charge stemming from a May 4, 2006, online adult chat room conversation Odom had with "Jennifer," a purported 13-year-old Oconee County girl who was in fact Mark Patterson, then a Westminster police officer working with the South Carolina Attorney General's Office's Internet Crimes Against Children Taskforce.
The jury found Odom not guilty on the charge stemming from a May 6, 2006, chat with Patterson's online teenage persona.
The jurors returned their verdict about 9:55 p.m. Thursday.
Judge Lawton McIntosh sentenced Odom to seven years in prison, suspended, with five years of probation. His probation will be transferred to Aiken County.
As conditions of his sentence, Odom cannot use the Internet at all, cannot have a home computer, cannot be alone with unrelated minors without an adult being present and cannot go anywhere that minors frequent ? McIntosh cited a movie theater as an example ? without himself being accompanied by another adult.
In addition, Odom must undergo psychiatric treatment and adhere to any prescription drug regimen involved in treatment. He must also register as a sex offender by 5 p.m. Monday.
Before Odom's sentencing, his attorney, Jim Huff of North Augusta, informed McIntosh that the state had never genuinely sought a jail term for Odom, in preference for registration as a sex offender.
Huff asked McIntosh to take into account in Odom's sentencing the testimony heard earlier Thursday by Dr. Donna Schwartz-Watts, a forensic psychiatrist.
Schwartz-Watts testified that she had examined Odom following his charging in 2006 and again this year. She testified that Odom had spent his childhood as part of a severely dysfunctional and abusive family.
Furthermore, she said, he had multiple sclerosis diagnosed in 2006 and tests showed he had two lesions on his brain.
Possibly as a cumulative consequence of all this, Schwartz-Watts said, Odom tested as having severe cognitive dysfunction, including decline in both short- and long-term memory and judgment.
Odom had admitted engaging in cybersex since 1999, she said, and having "emotional affairs." He had sexual disorders, she said, but did not show any of the signs of paraphelia, ie, deviant sexual arousal. She told the court she judged him unlikely to carry through on any Internet relationship.
In asking for a sentence without actual jail time, Huff told McIntosh that Odom was already "paying an awful price."
"His multiple sclerosis is progressively deteriorating him mentally and physically," Huff said.
In addition, Huff said, Odom had been suspended from his law practice and his conviction would mean revocation of his law license. Odom had been trying to find jobs in construction, Huff said, but had difficulty finding work to support himself and his wife. Odom is drawing unemployment compensation.
"This man has made a horrible mistake and takes responsibility for it," Huff told McIntosh. "He stands here before you with no employment and no hopes of it. He's a shattered man."
Huff informed McIntosh that he would be submitting a motion for a new trial.
"I don't ask for mercy, but I think I'm a good candidate for it," Odom said. "I respect the law and accept the verdict.
"I just want to go home to my wife whom I love and who loves me even though I have this specter hanging over me," Odom told McIntosh.
The jury twice during its deliberations Thursday afternoon and evening asked for clarifications on Mark Patterson's status as a police officer at the time of the May 2006 investigation.
Using Westminster Police Department time sheets, Odom's defense team of Huff and Andy Johnston had raised the possibility that Patterson had not been on duty and therefore acting in an official capacity at the time of the May 6 chat.
Huff had raised the issue many times in the week-long trial that the statute under which Odom was charged demands that the officer be acting in an official capacity.
The defense attorney had also questioned whether Patterson was covered by a bond at the time of the investigation, as is required for someone to serve as a peace officer in the state. Neither Westminster officials nor employees of the Oconee County courthouse could find records that Patterson had been bonded.
McIntosh, however, instructed the jurors when members submitted a question about Patterson's bonding that consideration of that issue was outside the scope of the outline of the law he had given them to consider.
Odom was indicted in Oconee County in 2009 on the basis of the May 2006 investigation.
An early 2009 trial in Spartanburg County on similar charges ended in a mistrial after a hung jury.