Attorney Misconduct

The problem of Hoosier lawyers misbehaving is reaching epic proportions. We’ve already told you about Olubunmi Okanlami, the Indiana law grad who allegedly suspected her boyfriend of cheating, attacked him as well as correctional officers, and wore two bras to prison so she could hide a weapon in between.

We’ve already told you about Kirmille Welbon, a deputy prosecutor in Indiana who allegedly attacked the wife of a man she was sleeping with (more on her later). Both of these incidents came to light within the last 30 days.

And now we have another name to add: Daniel C. McCarthy. This guy just got suspended from Indiana Bar for 30 days (without automatic reinstatement) because he can’t even keep it together long enough to write an email…

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Ed. note: Have a question for next week? Send it in to

Dear ATL,

I am an assistant clerk at a state court.  I graduated in May 2010 and worked hard to find a decent job after taking the July bar.  I have noticed over my past few months that a co-worker, also a 2010 law school graduate, has told at least a few pro se parties and attorneys in the court that he is a lawyer.  This would be fine except for the fact that he has not taken the bar in any state.  It particularly annoys me because I am a graduate of a top tier school in the same state as his third tier school and I have taken and passed the bar in two states while he seems to have spent the summer doing nothing.  I only inform attorneys and parties that I am a licensed attorney when specifically asked because the court is suppose to stay neutral and we are not allowed to give legal advice.  I recently tired to point out to him that he is not a licensed attorney and should not tell or imply to people that he is.  He made some BS distinction between a lawyer and an attorney that made it ok for him to say he’s a lawyer.  Need less to say I’m didn’t buy it.  I cannot believe that the parties contacting our office with questions would understand the difference between his definition of lawyer and attorney….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Pls Hndle Thx: The Informant”

Sometimes lawyers are rude — really, really rude. And when they get extremely rude in emails with one another, sometimes the result is discipline from the bar. So, counselors, please be polite; treat each other with courtesy and respect.

(And treat bartenders with respect too. You never know when one of them might bring your rudeness to the attention of Above the Law.)

The importance of common courtesy is a lesson that Florida lawyers Nicholas Mooney and Kurt Mitchell learned the hard way. After they called each other some nasty names over email, charming monikers like “scum sucking loser” and “retard,” they both wound up getting disciplined by the Florida Supreme Court.

Let’s take a closer look at their crazy correspondence, shall we?

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Email insults lead to sanctions for two Florida attorneys.

This has not been a great day for lawyers in Indiana. Another Hoosier lawyer, this time at Barnes & Thornburg, just received a public reprimand for patronizing a prostitute (we’re only doing our part to aid in the shaming).

From the National Law Journal (via the ABA Journal):

The Indiana Supreme Court has publicly reprimanded a Barnes & Thornburg attorney for patronizing a prostitute in February.

Hiroaki Nishikawara, of counsel in the law firm’s Indianapolis office, received the reprimand after the court approved an agreement between him and the state’s attorney disciplinary commission. Nishikawara entered into a plea agreement for committing a class A misdemeanor. The agreement required him to perform six hours of community service and attend an impact panel proceeding. The court noted that he had completed the requirements and had no prior criminal history.

Nishikawara declined to comment about the reprimand.

OK, lawyers I get it. You work ridiculously long hours and it’s really hard to meet women at 3 a.m. when you’re ambling out of work. You’ve tried your sweet charm on your secretary and failed.

But the one thing working 89 hours a day has provided you with is money. So hey, at least you can use that.


double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Another Lawyer Bites The Dust – Gets Caught With a Prostitute”

We’ve been keeping an eye on Andrew Shirvell, the Michigan attorney who has been conducting a personal crusade against Chris Armstrong, the University of Michigan student body president who happens to be gay. At the beginning of this month, we learned that Shirvell was taking a leave of absence from his day job in the Michigan Attorney General’s office. We also know that Armstrong has sought a restraining order against Shirvell.

Today, we’ve received word that Armstrong is requesting that Shirvell be brought before the bar on ethics charges. Finally. There’s got to be some kind of ethical rule that prohibits lawyers from gay bashing college kids, right?

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When we included Republican Senate candidate Joe Miller in our gallery of most disgraceful Yale Law School graduates, we admitted that his scandals were trivial in comparison to some other people on the list.

But now maybe Miller will be a worthy contender. Newly released documents contain an email where Miller admits to lying about some of his actions while working as a borough attorney in Fairbanks, Alaska.

I have no idea how the Tea Party will spin this into a positive, but for Democrats and regular Republicans, their problem with Miller won’t be the offense, it’ll be with the cover-up. ‘Twas always thus…

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tajudeen-oladiran.jpgArizona attorney Tajudeen “Taj” Oladiran came onto our radar back in 2009, when he filed one of the craziest motions we’ve ever seen. Solo practitioner Oladiran, a former associate at Greenberg Traurig, filed a racketeering lawsuit against “Suntrust Bank and its pimps” for allegedly suckering him into predatory housing loans.

The motion that caught our eye — “Motion for a [sic] Honest and Honorable Court System” –  was filed to vent Oladiran’s frustration with the “dishonorable” Susan Bolton, whom Taj called “a brainless coward.” That would be the same Susan Bolton who, in a not-so-cowardly move, blocked part of Arizona’s controversial immigration law.

Taj ended the motion:

Finally, to Susan Bolton, we shall meet again you know where. :-)

Not only did Taj get our Motion of the Day nod with that, he earned Motion of the Year honors.

The Arizona court system was less impressed with the motion, though. There, it earned Taj a threat of disbarment…

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Stud lawyers in Texas could have a more difficult time mating with their own clients.

Today many people made time to talk about Texas legal ethics — specifically, a proposal in front of the Texas bar that would prohibit lawyers from having sex with their clients. It’s a rule most jurisdictions have in one form or another. It’s not obvious that getting this rule enacted in Texas would be a huge problem.

But to paraphrase Louis Gossett Jr., “only two things come from Texas, steers and [a horribly anachronistic term that rhymes with 'steers'].”

Let’s deal with the steers first. It seems that the people against the new Texas Bar proposal are afraid that clients might just make up tales of affairs, and Texas lawyers — you know, people specially trained in methods of recognizing and producing evidence — will have no way to defend themselves…

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The Democratic primary for the new New York Attorney General is on Tuesday. Earlier this week, I broke down the candidates and liveblogged the debate between the five Democratics that want to follow in the footsteps of Eliot Spitzer and Andrew Cuomo.

I wasn’t particularly impressed with the frontrunner, Nassau County DA Kathleen Rice. But I’ve got nothing on retired Brooklyn criminal judge, Amy Herz Juviler. Judge Juviler is definitely not going to vote for Rice. And she doesn’t want her friends to vote for her either. Freed from the bench, she’s been emailing her friends encouraging them to avoid Rice like the plague.

In the email, Judge Juviler gets right to the point:

Friends —
In considering who to vote for in the Democratic Primary, eliminate from your consideration Kathleen Rice.

Bang! Politico has the full email, let’s take a look…

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Please note: people get Academy Awards for acting like they can talk to dead people.

Full disclosure: I belong to the South Park school of thought, which says that claiming you can speak to dead people makes you a candidate for Biggest Douche in the Universe. Even my priest, who believes that the will of an omniscient and all-powerful being can be easily flummoxed by a thin film of latex, doesn’t believe that he has a direct line of communication with the dead.

One would think that telling a client you are “channeling” his dead wife would violate multiple rules of legal ethics. But not so in Arizona. Nope, in Arizona you can get away with this, reports the ABA Journal:

[Lawyer Charna Johnson] began representing the client during his divorce proceedings in 1999. The client’s wife committed suicide the following year, and Johnson later co-represented him in probate proceedings.

Johnson and the client both testified that they genuinely believed the client’s wife was within Johnson. Two witnesses agreed. The client felt his wife had come back to heal some of the damage from her prescription drug use.

Yeah, that’s perfectly cool in ‘Zona. Remember, this is the state where Bryan Cave lawyers conducted an exorcism. Obviously they’re down with the supernatural in Arizona, so long as the spirits are American-born.

But still, having an inappropriate sexual relationship with a client is a no-no. Luckily for Charna Johnson, the client’s dead wife apparently no longer wanted to have sex with the client. Whew. Johnson really dodged a bullet there…

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