Was That Wrong? Framing a volunteer at your kid’s elementary school for a drug crime.

Who doesn’t like a good love story???

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.

costanza

Today’s lesson comes courtesy of two lawyers who were disbarred in California. As I alluded above, it’s a love story: our disbarred lawyers are married to each other!!! The story has been covered by Above The Law, the California Bar Journal, and OC Weekly.  I recommend the OC Weekly’s post.

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 & your wife got mad at a woman who volunteered at your son’s after school program.  So, you embarked upon a smear campaign against her. It culminated with you sneaking into her car & planting marijuana, Percocet, and Vicodin, then calling the police to report that you’d seen her driving erratically in the school parking lot.
  • Lawyer:  Who said that?
  • Supreme Court: The volunteer, the police, and the jury that convicted you of false imprisonment.  Oh, and, at trial, you admitted it, but argued that you only did it as part of a plan to win back your wife’s favor after she had an affair.
  • Lawyer: Was that wrong? Should I have not 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 law 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:  Disbarred.
  • Lawyer:  Well you didn’t have to say it like that.

For more, here are the previous entries in Was That Wrong?

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