Was That Wrong?

It’s been a while.

Was That Wrong? is a semi-regular column in which I focus on stories of the absurd & outrageous from the world of legal ethics and attorney discipline. My aim is to highlight misconduct that I hope you’ll instinctively avoid without needing me to convene a continuing legal education seminar that cautions you to do so.

For example, our most recent discussion of the the perils of representing BOTH plaintiff and defendant while sleeping with defendant.

Today, and as reported by the ABA Journal, The Indiana Lawyer, and NMI.com, we have the story of an Indiana prosecutor who has been suspended for 4 years for listening in on conversations between murder suspects and their lawyers.  The Indiana Supreme Court’s order is here.

Hint: it’s never a good sign for a lawyer when the Supreme Court’s very first statement in discussing the appropriate sanction is:

“There is, quite thankfully, scant precedent in our disciplinary annals for misconduct such as this.”

This column is inspired by the “Red Dot” episode of Seinfeld. In the episode, George Costanza has sex in his office with a character known only as “the cleaning woman.”  His boss finds out.  Here’s their ensuing exchange :

(Scene) In the boss’ office.

  • Boss: I’m going to get right to the point. It has come to my attention that you and the cleaning woman have engaged in sexual intercourse on the desk in your office. Is that correct?
  • George: Who said that?
  • Boss: She did.
  • George: Was that wrong? Should I have not done that? I tell you I gotta plead ignorance on this thing because if anyone had said anything to me at all when I first started here that that sort of thing was frowned upon, you know, cause I’ve worked in a lot of offices and I tell you people do that all the time.
  • Boss: You’re fired.
  • George: Well you didn’t have to say it like that.

The full script is HERE.  The scene is HERE.

Someday I hope to launch a YouTube channel tied to this blog.  When I do, I’ll adapt Was That Wrong entries to the screen.  Here’s how I envision scripting today’s:

  • Supreme Court: We’re going to get right to the point. It has come to our attention that, as a criminal prosecutor, you used technology to listen in on privileged conversations between suspects and their lawyers.  Is that correct?
  • Lawyer:  Who said that?
  • Supreme Court:  You did.  So did police chief who tried to tell you it was wrong.
  • Lawyer: Was that wrong? Should I have not done that? I tell you I gotta plead ignorance on this thing because if anyone had said anything to me at all when I first started practicing that that sort of thing was frowned upon, you know, cause I’ve worked in a lot of offices and I tell you people do that all the time.
  • Supreme Court:  4 year suspension.
  • Lawyer:  Well you didn’t have to say it like that.

*********************************************************************************

Here are the previous entries in Was That Wrong?

costanza

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