Divorce Train Wrecks, Family Law, Holidays and Seasons, Legal Ethics

Lawyer Faces Possible Discipline Over Epic Christmas Poem About Neverending Divorce Case

If you’ve been representing someone in a knock-down, drag-out, decade-long divorce action, with no end in sight, it’s understandable that you’d be a little pissed off. And while some attorneys prefer to write “not so sincere” letters calling opposing counsel “a**holes,” others find more creative ways to channel their anger for the sake of poetic justice.

And while poetry may be the best way to make passive-aggressive complaints about your case, the next time you’re considering writing a four-page, 60-line email riffing on a classic holiday poem, you might want to consider your audience. Some people might not be fans of your rhyme scheme….

A. Todd Merolla, of Merolla & Gold, may soon be facing disciplinary action from a New York court thanks to an epic poem sent right before Christmas via email to opposing counsel and a special referee on the case.

Merolla represents Drew Doscher in a divorce action that has now been litigated for more than a decade. Can you say “divorce train wreck”? Apparently the judge who had formerly presided over the case died in May 2011, and several motions had been pending since before his death. This really ticked off Merolla, and prompted him to write the poem in question, which began rather innocuously:

A. Todd Merolla

Twas the week before Christmas, in the Matrimonial Part,
All the creatures were stirring, putting their horse in front of the cart.
The fee applications were pending, bills demanding to be paid,
In hopes that Drew’s resolve, soon would fade.

Talk about good tidings for Christmas. But Merolla’s adversary, Kenneth Weinstein (who may or may not have had a heart that was two sizes too small), just wasn’t in the mood for a holiday-themed ribbing. Weinstein found the poem to be “outrageously offensive, utterly unprofessional [and] threatening.”

Weinstein moved for a finding of contempt and sanctions against Merolla, but he would have been better off petitioning Santa to place a lump of coal in opposing counsel’s stocking, because his motions were denied. The New York Law Journal has more information on what happened next:

[Special Referee Frank] Schellace denied the contempt and sanctions motion in a Feb. 29 order and report but referred the e-mail to the grievance committee, writing, “Whether the offensive, inappropriate and unprofessional ‘Poem’ rises to the level of an ethical violation, it is for the Grievance Committee, and ultimately the Appellate Division, Second Department, to determine.”

Merolla hasn’t been contacted by the Grievance Committee yet, but he claims that he’s unaware of any rules of professional conduct that he may have violated. Unfortunately, it would seem that having a sense of humor about an unending case stands in contravention of New York’s moral code.

Protip: next time, try a Hanukkah song. You might have better luck.

Merolla’s poem can be read in full on the next page….

(hidden for your protection)

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