Was That Wrong?

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Now, I know it has only been a week since I posted a Was That Wrong?, but as they say, you’ve got to go where the evidence leads you.  Plus, for those of you for whom the next few days will include a daunting amount of time with family, today’s topic will likely serve as better conversation fodder than a more scholarly post – to the extent any of my posts can be described as “scholarly.”

As a blogger, this year I’m thankful for the lawyer who managed the impossible: multiple Was That Wrong? moments in a single disciplinary case.

Was That Wrong? is a semi-regular column on Ethical Grounds. The column features 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.

The 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.

Today’s column involves a lawyer suspended for 4 months by the Wisconsin Supreme Court.  The order was reported by the ABA Journal, the Legal Profession Blog, and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

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’s come to our attention that you smuggled two toothbrushes and some red pepper to a client who was in jail.
  • Lawyer:  Who said that?
  • Supreme Court:  The guards found the toothbrushes and red pepper inside a legal file that was in a bag your brought to the client.  In jail, toothbrushes can be converted in shanks & red pepper made into pepper spray.
  • Supreme Court: It has also come to our attention that you utterly failed to communicate with a different client.
  • Lawyer:  Who said that?
  • Supreme Court: The client did.
  • Supreme Court: And, finally, it has come to our attention that at the hearing on your failure to communicate with the client, you argued that the client called your office phone instead of your cell phone and, in any event, that you had regularly e-mailed him.
  • Lawyer:  Yes.
  • Supreme Court: He didn’t have an e-mail account.
  • Lawyer: Was all of this wrong? Should I have not done any of it? 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 this stuff all the time.
  • Supreme Court:  4 month suspension.
  • Lawyer:  Well you didn’t have to say it like that.

costanza

 

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