Attorney Misconduct

While many would-be lawyers were busy taking the bar exam in July, actual lawyers (and law students) were allegedly busy behaving badly. We’ve singled out a lucky few for our Lawyer of the Month honors.

Some of our nominees have adopted unusual career alternatives, and others have allegedly adopted unusual sexual relationships. But who will come out on top in our monthly contest?

Take a look at our nominees for July’s Lawyer of the Month and find out….

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As we mentioned yesterday in Morning Docket, Judge Marcia Gail Cooke (S.D. Fla.) recently issued an omnibus order on multiple motions for sanctions in the high-profile case of Coquina Investments v. TD Bank. The plaintiff, Coquina Investments, moved for sanctions related to various alleged discovery violations.

At a contempt hearing held back in May, Judge Cooke heard testimony from employees of TD Bank and current and former lawyers from Greenberg Traurig, which previously represented the bank. She took the matter under advisement — but not before saying things like, “It is hard for me to describe in words the difficulty throughout this trial related to documents and discovery.”

Now Her Honor has ruled. What did she decide?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Benchslap of the Day: Judge Cooke Sanctions Greenberg Traurig and TD Bank”

Back in March, we brought you a story about an elderly sports law professor who had engaged in some unsportsmanlike, penile conduct. At the time, a criminal complaint had been filed against Clark Calvin Griffith, a former adjunct law professor at the William Mitchell College of Law. Griffith was accused of unzipping his pants, exposing himself, and forcing a female law student to squeeze his penis. He took an Alford plea in June on indecent exposure charges.

Griffith’s case blew up again in the beginning of July when Lance Armstrong took to Twitter to criticize the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency by linking to an Above the Law story, revealing Griffith’s identity and his pervy predilections — Griffith was one of the formerly anonymous members of Armstrong’s Review Board.

And now, Griffith has made the news again, but this time for his interesting interpretation of the ways that he was “victimized” by the law student who pressed charges against him. Unfortunately for him, Griffith’s sentencing judge wasn’t buying it….

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* Presidential campaigns for Election 2012 are focusing in on the Supreme Court and future appointments to the high court, and Vice President Joe Biden is really not a fan of Justice Scalia. [POLITICO]

* Dewey know what the ramifications of D&L’s $50M insurance policy will mean for the resolution of the failed firm’s bankruptcy proceedings? Well, Steve Davis is probably happy. [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]

* Howrey going to pay off all of our creditors? Probably by dipping into the coffers of the 70 other law firms that took on our defectors. Have fun with all of those subpoenas. [Capital Business / Washington Post]

* The percentage of women in Biglaw partnership positions is up 2.8% since 2003, but the equity gender gap remains. At least some progress is being made. [National Law Journal]

* “I thought your papers were terrific, I just disagreed with them.” Kleiner Perkins isn’t a fan of backhanded compliments, so the firm is appealing a judge’s decision to keep Ellen Pao’s case out of arbitration. [Reuters]

* James Holmes, the alleged shooter in the Aurora movie-theater massacre, is scheduled to make his first court appearance today for an initial advisement. Thus far, he’s facing at least 71 charges. [Denver Post]

* The class action suit filed against Cooley Law over its allegedly deceptive employment statistics has been dismissed, much like the NYLS lawsuit before it. More on the dismissal to come later today. [WSJ Law Blog]

* “Sex isn’t going to buy me dinner.” Michael Winner, the attorney accused of offering “pro boner” assistance to female inmates, claims in an interview that the allegations against him are “just plain false.” [WSB-TV Atlanta]

Many of our past recipients of the Lawyer of the Day title have been accused of some pretty perverted conduct. Allegations of outrageous behavior, ranging from exposing an erection on a plane to offering “pro boner” assistance to female inmates, have spanned the great expanse of the continental United States. But we’ve never written about allegations of attorney misconduct that have made national headlines all the way from the sandy shores of the island state of Hawaii.

It would seem that one elderly attorney in Hawaii was more interested in servicing his clients than offering client service. You know you’re in trouble when a judge calls you a “dirty old man” in open court for engaging in some unwanted tongue action….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Lawyer of the Day: Hawaii Attorney Convicted of Harassment for Licking a Client’s Ear”

* Speaking on the condition of anonymity, one Supreme Court justice thinks that things will be back to normal at One First Street come the start of the next term, despite his colleagues’ loose lips. [National Law Journal]

* Hourly billing rates for associate are on the rise nationwide, while partner and counsel billing rates only saw modest bumps. Is Biglaw back in business, or is this just another “retention strategy”? [New York Law Journal]

* This is a really hard to believe newspaper headline: “Law firm recognizes employees have life outside of work.” Carlton Fields, what kind of gypsy voodoo magic spells are you casting? [South Florida Sun-Sentinel]

* Another day, another editorial about the “irretrievably broken” state of legal education in our country. But the ABA admins needn’t worry their oblivious little heads, because people will keep applying. [New York Times]

* And in today’s disturbing law school debtor news, Jason Bohn’s charge was upgraded to first-degree murder after a DA announced via indictment that Bohn allegedly intended to torture his victim. [New York Post]

* “Quite frankly, these are the actions of a dirty old man.” You can look, but never lick: it’s not really a good thing when a judge uses a sentence like this to describe an attorney’s alleged client relations skills. [CBS News]

* For it’s one, two, three strikes you’re out at the old ball fraud game. Lenny Dykstra pleaded guilty to bankruptcy fraud among a potpourri of other felony counts, and he’ll now face up to 20 years in prison. [CNN]

It has been a bad week for those poor naïve souls who imagine judges as wizened, white-haired, grandfatherly figures. At least at the state level, we are learning about judges with tempers more along the lines of grumpy pitbulls than anything else.

This week, we heard about a judge in Washington who has been charged by a state judicial board with violating codes of conduct. The Washington State Commission on Judicial Conduct accused Judge John Wulle of failing to “to maintain order and decorum in proceedings” and engaging “in a pattern of discourteous, impatient and undignified behavior.”

So, how exactly did Judge Wulle allegedly misbehave? Let’s take a read, and, even better, we’ve got video….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Judge of the Day: You Won’t Like Me When I’m Angry”

* Who needs a Declaration of Internet Freedom when the government supports protesting citizens who go buckwild in the streets? The European Union voted against ratification of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement. [Associated Press]

* Kenneth Schneider, the former Debevoise & Plimpton associate serving a 15-year sentence for forcing a Russian teenager to be his sex slave, was suspended from practice pending further disciplinary proceedings. [New York Law Journal]

* Glenn Mulcaire, the investigator who intercepted voicemail messages on behalf of News of the World, lost a bid to remain silent about who commissioned his services. Rupert’s gonna be sooo pissed. [New York Times]

* Congratulations to the team from the University of Chicago Law School that won the United States Supreme Court Prediction Competition. They won $5K for betting on their Con Law nerd-dom. [SCOTUS Competition]

* Judge Kenneth Lester Jr. is expected to rule on George Zimmerman’s motion for bond today, and perhaps he won’t be so quick to forget that the defendant already lied to the court to get out of jail. [Orlando Sentinel]

* “You can’t just arbitrarily add anything you want to a sentence.” Well, it looks like you can, because in addition to jail time, a judge in South Carolina tacked on a Biblical book report to this woman’s sentence. [Daily Mail]

As we reported yesterday, the comely young Reema Bajaj, a 26-year-old Illinois solo practitioner charged with prostitution, has pleaded guilty to a single misdemeanor prostitution count. I previously expressed my favorable opinions of Bajaj and my belief in her innocence (despite the existence of nude pictures of her floating around the internet). Alas, it seems that my confidence may have been misplaced.

As a matter of legal ethics and attorney discipline, what will happen to Bajaj’s law license in the wake of her conviction for prostitution? As a matter of human interest, how did a promising young lawyer wind up in such a compromising situation?

We have some answers. A law professor who teaches ethics addresses the first question, and a friend of Reema speaks to the second….

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(Including revelations about Reema from a friend.)

It appears the case of Reema Bajaj has reached a climax. The Illinois attorney who was charged with prostitution has pleaded guilty.

Let’s look at some details….

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