Back in March 2008, we named Daniel Hynes our Lawyer of the Day. Hynes was convicted of theft by extortion after trying to shake down at least 19 New Hampshire hair salons by accusing them of gender and age discrimination (in the form of pricing haircuts differently for men, women, and children).
Now, a quick update, from the ABA Journal:
The New Hampshire Supreme Court has upheld the extortion conviction of a lawyer who threatened to sue a Concord hair salon for charging women more money for haircuts than men or children.
Daniel Hynes is identified as a Manchester lawyer and a 2006 graduate of the Western New England College School of Law in a story published by the Concord Monitor in March last year. A jury convicted him of theft by extortion after deliberating for only 1 ½ hours.
One and a half hours? Ouch. And Hynes didn’t fare better on appeal.
The New Hampshire Supreme Court said the extortion statute applied to Hynes’ conduct, and the law was not unconstitutionally vague. Hynes’ threat to bring an action that he couldn’t pursue because of the lack of an aggrieved client, along with his demand for a cash payment, made his conduct criminal, the opinion said.
“We also disagree with the defendant’s contention that this interpretation chills an individual’s right of access to the courts,” the court said. “By no means does our holding imply that every demand for money, buttressed by a threat to sue, constitutes extortion. Rather, we are simply denying the defendant’s contention that a threat to sue may never constitute extortion.”
New Hampshire plaintiffs’ lawyers are breathing sighs of relief.
This seems to leave unresolved the underlying issue of whether it’s appropriate for hair salons or barbers to charge for their services based on gender or age. We’re sure that Justice Souter, who is moving back to New Hampshire (into nice new digs), is curious.
Extortion Conviction Upheld for Lawyer Who Threatened Hair-Cut Pricing Suit [ABA Journal]
Earlier: Lawyer of the Day: Daniel Hynes