Lawyers playing the thug


Duck LawBased on a account in the  Rockwall Herald-Banner: Given the public’s (false) impression that lawyers are both well educated and regulated by some strict code of behavior  you’d think it would be difficult for a lawyer to cross the line during an actual proceeding. The account says this was “not so for Connecticut attorney Steven Levy.”  Mr. Levy ” who was reprimanded by that state’s grievance committee for violating rules of professional conduct by using “means that have no substantial purpose other than to embarrass, delay, or burden a third person.”

In  my own family feud, charges of neurotic behavior were made by attorneys of the litigator tribe.  I was amazed that such  comments could be made by an attorney who I had assumed was subject to much stricter rules than an ordinary citizen.  I have learned that I was wrong.  Attorneys are very much like the pigs in Animal Farm, they have privileges not shared by us chickens and goats. *

I have seen similar behavior in other settings, including the UW, where terms like neurotic behavior or even psychosis are often  lightly thrown around by our collection of JDs who assert they are not acting as lawyers.  In one case, they even barred a student from campus and get a psychiatrist to write a letter claiming that the student was psychotic. I accompanied that student to a meeting where he was faced, with no prior warning, by a panel of county officials with the power to commit him!   The outcome, thanks in part to my presence, was that that the UW was reprimanded by the County authorities. No penalties were ever taken against the UW’s attorneys for their behavior in this bizarre case.

In discussions with other attorneys, including THE Ave’s own resident rabbit, I learned I was wrong to assume that attorneys had anyl imitations on their behavior.  The rabbit tells me that the only likely meaningful complaint to the Bar is one where the attorney stole money from a client.  Charges of perjury, slander or libel rarely go anywhere.  Even perjury, a crime for an ordinary citizen, seems to be privileged if the lies are made by an attorney.

The  case cited in the Herald Banner did not involve perjury but it did involve an obvious attempt at slander.  “When his client’s ex-wife asked why such a (psychological exam) exam would be necessary, Mr. Levy allegedly stated that “someone” had psychological problems, all the while staring pointedly at the ex-wife and humming the theme music from “The Twilight Zone.” During the same contentious case, Levy allegedly made false statements of material facts and reportedly burned the ex-wife’s hand with a cigarette (the latter charge was ultimately dismissed as an accident, although the grievance committee made note of Levy’s “rude and boorish” behavior).

What is amazing to me is that the only punishment Mr. Levy received was less than slap of the hand.

* I will award a TA beer mug to anyone who offers a story of a lawyer actually punished for such behavior.


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