If you took a professional responsibility course in law school, or even studied for the MPRE, then you’re familiar with the the main takeaway on legal ethics for attorneys. You know that you have to zealously represent your clients without doing anything illegal. (And if you do decide to take a walk on the wild side, you know that you should try not to get caught.)
It looks like an attorney from New Mexico — one who had already been disbarred for cocaine possession — missed the memo on that one. Apparently his definition of zealous representation includes kicking down doors and burglarizing homes.
Just when you think you’ve seen it all, we’ve got it on film….
Having been dubbed a “legal Rambo” by ABC News, divorce attorney Raymond Van Arnam, along with his client, Melissa Stonecipher, broke into her estranged husband’s home to collect her belongings. Little did they know that Stonecipher’s husband had installed security cameras all around the property. Check out the video:
Van Arnam told ABC News that he was “personally angry with what [Anthony Stonecipher] was doing to [his] client. He was bullying her and dominating her.” Really? As Van Arnam eloquently stated on the video, “Come on, you little [EXPLETIVE].” Give me a break. Even if that was the case, shouldn’t an attorney know better than to break into a house and instruct his staff to remove property?
What kind of discipline is Van Arnam facing for his adventure into the wonderful world of home invasion? ABC News has the details:
Van Arnam was initially charged with felonies, which were all pleaded down to misdemeanor criminal trespass and misdemeanor larceny. Van Arnam has been ordered to pay $5,000 in restitution and serve 30 days in jail but is still allowed to practice law.
He’s going to serve his sentence on the weekends so he can keep practicing. Van Arnam was facing anything from a letter of reprimand to disbarment. He was disbarred in 2002 for cocaine possession.
“Judge Gallisini was very reasonable, lenient with us, in trying to come up with kind of a plan for Ray to be able to serve those,” Van Arnam’s lawyer, Todd Holmes, said. “Judge Gallisini had even mentioned the possibility of serving weekends.”
He’s still allowed to practice law… for now. When you’ve got a prior disbarment on your record, breaking and entering in the name of a client can’t be good for your future in this profession.