Attorney Misconduct, Contempt, Legal Ethics

This Attorney’s Unbelievably Brazen Effort To Avoid Paying Sanctions Earns Contempt Holding

Kudos to this guy.

Not only did he rack up a hefty $300,000 sanctions bill for tactics that enraged multiple courts over the years and then fail to pay up, but he also solicited clients with a video vowing to never pay the sanctions against him. In the circles he rolled in, standing up to the government was a big deal.

When a federal district judge came calling for the $80,000 chunk of sanctions this lawyer owed, he cried poverty with a straight face.

Unfortunately, his efforts to shield his million dollar income and profligate spending didn’t hold up…

As I mentioned, William B. Butler of Butler Liberty Law, LLC in Minneapolis is not a big fan of the government. The Tea Party codeword “liberty” is right there in the name of his firm. So it should come as no surprise that he wasn’t going to pay some government-imposed “abusing the legal system tax.” Instead, he told the court that he was down on his luck:

Butler testified he did not have $80,000 or anywhere near $80,000. “I don’t think there’s any evidence that I’ve ever had $5,000 accumulated,” he said.

He also told the court that “he had not paid rent on his office for four months, and that his adult son was on food stamps.” That sounds horrible. It also sounded a little fishy to Judge Patrick Schiltz, who made some contrary findings:

In September 2013, “immediately after informing this court that he did not have the resources to pay sanctions, that he had not paid rent on his office for four months, and that his adult son was on food stamps… Butler spent $1,718.46 on restaurants, meals, liquor, yoga, tanning and kettlebell equipment…. In that same month, he spent an additional $488.91 at pet stores and $699.50 at Brooks Brothers for a total of $2,906.87.

“Butler did not pay a single penny of the sanctions despite overwhelming evidence that he could easily have done so,” said Schiltz, noting that Butler had vowed to prospective clients in a video on his website that he “never will pay” the sanctions against him.

Oops. Taking an aggressive “screw ‘em” stance to entice clients and committing that to video was probably a poor tactical move. Butler apparently thought he could escape sanctions, despite earning $1.35 million in income over the course of this sanctions fight and pulling down $64,000 in monthly gross income that could have gone to pay his sanctions if he’d have laid off the tanning bed. And, is his adult son really on food stamps while Butler is pulling down $64K each month? That’s cold, man.

Butler must have thought no one would pierce his dummy corporation, “Church of Jesus Christ and Latter Day Austrian Economists,” that had “‘only one real function,’ which was to pay Butler’s living expenses.” And thus, Judge Schiltz pierced that corporate veil like a champ and Butler is going to have to start paying up.

As they say in the Church, the Road to Serfdom begins with acting like a jackhole.

To the extent he’s fighting for foreclosure victims, he’s at least got a sympathetic cause, but trying to put one past federal judges with a comically titled corporate alias is not a good move. Any competent money launderer could have told him that.

In any event, Butler has been suspended from practicing in the U.S. District Court by Chief Judge Michael Davis, so at least he can take heart that he’s unlikely to get smacked with sanctions in yet another case any time soon.

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