Every so often, a lawyer will preface a story about legal ethics with a statement like “Mike, I GUARANTEE that you WILL NOT believe this one.”
Yes, I will. That’s what 22 years in this field can do to a person.
Then I read today’s story. It involves misconduct that, until now, I would only have imagined in a TV or movie script. I mean, I’m not even certain that Saul Goodman would stoop so low. Sadly, it’s real life.
I learned of the story via the ABA Journal and the Legal Profession Blog. Respectively, the headlines:
- Ohio lawyer is accused of tossing poop-filled Pringles can into parking lot of victims’ advocacy center
- It Sure Doesn’t Taste Like Potato Chips
The story is mind-boggling.
According to disciplinary charges filed last week, the lawyer represented a client charged with several criminal offenses, including Murder. In June 2021, both the lawyer and a victim’s advocate appeared at the client’s arraignment. The lawyer had known the victims’ advocate for years, knew that the advocate was involved in the lawyer’s client’s case, and new that the victim’s advocate worked for an organization named “Haven of Hope.”
The court set a pretrial hearing for November 30, 2021. The client’s last name is Wells, the victim advocate’s Wilkinson-Carpenter. What follows in italics is an excerpt from the disciplinary complaint, which refers to the lawyer as “respondent.”
- 15. On November 30, 2021, the day of Wells’s pretrial hearing, respondent deposited his feces into an empty potato chip can before leaving his home. He did not put a lid on the can. Respondent drove with the can of feces to Cambridge, Ohio.
- 16. At approximately 8:10 a.m. – 8:15 a.m., respondent turned his vehicle down the alley where Haven of Hope’s parking lot is located.
- 17. At the entry to the alley, there is a sign on the side of the building indicating that Haven of Hope is housed there. Further, there was construction at the entrance to the alley which made the alley more difficult to access.
- 18. Respondent slowed his vehicle down as he initially passed Haven of Hope’s parking lot.
- 19. Respondent then drove further down the alley, passing by other parking lots, and turned around, allowing him to drive past Haven of Hope’s parking lot a second time.
- 20. Respondent slowed again as he passed Haven of Hope’s parking lot for the second time and threw the open chip can containing his feces out of his car window and into Haven of Hope’s parking lot.
- 21. Wilkinson-Carpenter observed respondent throw the can out of the window of his vehicle toward Haven of Hope’s parking lot.
- 22. Respondent then sped off in his vehicle and drove to the courthouse for Wells’s 8:30 a.m. pretrial hearing.
- 23. Wilkinson-Carpenter approached the item which landed close to her car and discovered it was a Pringles can containing what appeared to be human feces.
The charges go on to allege that the victim’s advocate reported the incident to law enforcement and that the lawyer eventually pled guilty to Disorderly Conduct and Littering.
So far, I’d yet to reach the part of the story that left me in disbelief. Then I read paragraph 27 of the disciplinary complaint. It alleges:
- “27. Respondent has engaged in similar conduct on approximately ten previous occasions, indiscriminately choosing the location where he throws the chip cans containing his feces.”
Thinking back to the opening and a jingle of my youth, I GUARANTEE this: today’s story certainly does not leave me with a fever for the flavor.
As always, let’s be careful out there.
- Trying to mislead disciplinary authorities into believing that you had died
- Conspiring with police to have your paralegal set up opposing counsel for a DUI mid-trial
- Bringing a gun to your disbarment hearing
- Defrauding Investors, with client funds as collateral
- Outrageous falsehoods on a resume
- As a judge, ordering the defense attorney Handcuffed to Jury Box
- Swearing at a Judge for overruling your objection
- Forging judges’ signatures
- Representing Plaintiff & Defendant . . . and sleeping with Defendant
- As a prosecutor, snooping on conversations between defendant & defense counsel
- Smuggling toothbrushes and pepper spray to an incarcerated client
- Framing a volunteer at your kid’s elementary school for drug possession
- Forging wiretap orders to spy on a romantic rival
- Cannabis (In)Competence
- Inexplicable Incompetence and a Thomas Jefferson Costume
- Putting a convicted embezzler in charge of the trust account
- Diverting client funds to run a strip club
- Being shorted by drug dealers, then claiming they robbed you
- Evading service of a disciplinary complaint by pretending to be your identical twin
- Tomfoolery and a career marked by a consistent inability to comply with the ethics rules