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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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.

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Here are the previous entries in Was That Wrong?

costanza

Was That Wrong?

It’s been a while.

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 2013 order suspending a North Carolina lawyer’s license for 5 years. I learned about it after reading on the Legal Profession Blog and in The Charlotte Observer that the lawyer has petitioned for reinstatement.

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:

  • Disciplinary Commission:  We’re going to get right to the point.  It’s come to our attention that you sued Defendant on behalf of Plaintiff.  Then, without telling Plaintiff, you started representing Defendant in other, unrelated matters. And, finally, while continuing to represent both Plaintiff & Defendant, you had a sexual relationship with Defendant.
  • Lawyer:  Who said that?
  • Disciplinary Commission:  Plaintiff and Defendant.
  • 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.
  • Disciplinary Commission:  5 year suspension.
  • Lawyer:  Well you didn’t have to say it like that.

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

Here are the previous entries in Was That Wrong?

costanza

Was That Wrong? That’s what makes this so difficult.

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 CLE 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 story comes thanks to Joe Patrice at Above the Law: Attorney Forges Judges’ Signatures Over 100 Times.  Earns Jail, Sick Burn.  Yesterday, the attorney was sentenced to 364 days in jail, and 10 years probation, for forging judges’ signatures on 114 structured settlements and filing them with the court clerk.

As regular readers know, this is the point in the column where, using the same structure as the “was that wrong” conversation between Costanza and his boss, I’d draft an imaginary colloquy between the attorney-forger & the judge who sentenced him.

Not today.

No, today’s story reminds me more Bizarro Jerry, the episode in which Kramer is fired from a job that he doesn’t even have.  The relevant segment:

  • Leland (the boss):  Well, I’m sorry.  There’s just no way that we could keep you on.
  • Kramer:  I don’t even really work here!
  • Leland:  That’s what makes this so difficult.

The scene is HERE.  The full script is HERE.

Returning to today’s story, as Patrice wrote on the ATL blog,

  • “It remains one of the most baffling cases of professional misconduct we’ve covered at Above the Law for the simple reason that Camacho seemingly garnered no advantage at all from his actions. The settlements would’ve earned a rubber stamp had he submitted them to the court.  He just… didn’t.”

Here’s how I envision it in Bizarro world:

  • Judge:  Well, I’m sorry.  There’s just no way we can condone lawyers forging judges’ signatures on settlements.  I sentence you to 364 days in jail.
  • Lawyer:  But they’d have been approved even if I didn’t forge them!
  • Judge:  That’s what makes this so difficult.

 

Kramer

 

Was That Wrong? Tax Judge Sentenced for…..Tax Fraud

Remember when I wrote about the defense lawyer whose pants caught on fire during his closing argument in an arson case?  Well, get ready for another to which you can only say “you can’t make this stuff up”

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 CLE 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 version comes from us from Minnesota, the Land of 10,000 Lakes.  (Sidenote: nice basketball connection here. Not many people know why the Los Angeles Lakers are called “the Lakers.”  It’s because they used to be in Minneapolis.)

Anyhow, per Paul Caron at the TaxProf Blog, a former U.S. Tax Court judge was sentenced to 34 months in federal prison for tax fraud committed while sitting on the tax court.  The Minnesota Lawyer has additional details.

Someday I hope to launch a YouTube channel tied to this blog.  When I do, here’s how I imagine scripting today’s entry when I adapt Was That Wrong to the screen.

  • Sentencing Court:  We’re going to get right to the point. It’s come to our attention that, over about 10 years, you and your husband fraudulently deducted approximately $500,000 of personal expenses as business expenses, fraudulently claimed around another $440,000 in deductions that, in fact, had been reimbursed, intentionally understated your income, made a series of false claims on your tax returns, and, when audited, intentionally submitted false documents to the auditors.  And, that for the entire time, you were a sitting judge on the U.S. Tax Court.
  • Defendant:  Who said that?
  • Sentencing Court:  You admitted it.
  • Defendant: 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 seen a lot of cases and I tell you people do that all the time.
  • Sentencing Court:  34 months.
  • Defendant:  Well you didn’t have to say it like that.

The previous entries in Was That Wrong?

costanza

Was That Wrong? The Ethics Monster

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 CLE 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.

The latest installment comes from the Ohio Supreme Court’s decision in Cleveland Metroplitan Bar Association v. Donchatz.  I don’t know how to categorize the misconduct as anything other than “you can’t make this stuff up.”

Here’s how I imagine I might script it if I ever write my own legal ethics knockoff of Seinfeld’s “Red Dot” episode.  By way of background, and since it’s not in the Ohio Supreme Court’s decision, the recommendation from a panel of the Ohio Board of Professional Conduct noted that the respondent used to be a disciplinary prosecutor and, when in private practice, billed himself as “The Ethics Monster.”  Recommendation, paras. 8 & 71.

  • Court:  We’ll get right to the point.  It has come to our attention that a tree company sued you for an unpaid bill.  A default judgment issued against you.  Even though you did not pay the judgment, you filed a notice of satisfaction of judgment.  Then, you did not withdraw the notice when asked to do so.
  • Lawyer:  Who said that?
  • Court:  Sorry, there’s more.  It’s also come to our attention that you sued a former client for unpaid legal fees.  A mediation session did not resolve the dispute. Nonetheless, you filed a “stipulated entry & consent judgment.”  The court approved it and entered judgment in your favor. Counsel for your former client reminded you that no agreement had been reached and asked you to withdraw the stipulated entry of judgment. You did not, and informed counsel that it would constitute (1) defamation for counsel to file an ethics complaint against you, and (2) a fraud upon the court for counsel to ask the court to vacate the judgment.
  • Lawyer:  Again, who said that?
  • Court:   The person who holds a job just like one that you used to have.
  • Lawyer:  Was that wrong?  I tell you, I gotta plead ignorance on this thing because if anyone had said anything to me at all when I was first licensed . . .
  • Court:  Suspended indefinitely.
  • Lawyer:  Well, you didn’t have to say it like that.

costanza

I think this gives new meaning to the term “Ethics Monster.”

 

Was that Wrong?

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 CLE 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 version of a lawyer channeling Costanza comes to us from the Northern District of Illinois.  As reported by the ABA Journal, the lawyer’s disrespectful & unprofessional conduct resulted in the court’s Executive Committee suspending her from the court’s general bar for 90 days and from its trial bar for 1 year.  The order is here.

Someday I hope to launch a YouTube channel tied to this blog.  When I do, here’s how I imagine scripting today’s entry when I adapt Was That Wrong to the screen.

  • Executive Committee:  It has come to our attention that you were continuously disruptive during a two-week trial, and that you often reacted to unfavorable testimony by rolling your eyes, shaking your head, and commenting on it in the presence of the jury.  We also understand that, after the court overruled an objection that you made, you rolled your eyes and said, ‘Fucking bullshit.’ ” Is that correct?
  • Lawyer: Who said that?
  • Executive Committee: The judge. And it’s in the transcript.
  • 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 appearing in federal court that that sort of thing was frowned upon, you know, cause I’ve had a lot of cases and I tell you . . . umm. . . .
  • Executive Committee: Suspended!
  • Lawyer: Well, you didn’t have to say it like that.

As an aside, a nugget buried in the order made me spit out my coffee and I wasn’t even drinking any when I read it.  On page 2, the Executive Committee noted that:

  • “In mitigation, [the lawyer] has apologized and set forth a detailed plan to prevent a recurrence of the violation.”

What, exactly, is a “detailed plan” not to swear at the judge when your objections are overruled?

Honestly, I think that even Bart Simpson knows the plan:

bart-simpson-generator

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Here are the prior entries in Was That Wrong?

costanza

 

Was That Wrong? Judicial Conduct Edition

Last June, I used this question at a training I did for the Defender General:

  • On May 23, a Nevada judge presiding over a contested sentencing hearing made the news by:
    • A. Ordering the defense attorney handcuffed to the jury  box.
    • B. Holding a defense attorney in contempt for tweeting updates during the hearing.
    • C. Vacating the conviction & confessing to the crime.
    • D. Sending a Facebook ‘friend request” to the defendant during the hearing.

As you think about your answer, I’ll take a moment to explain Was That Wrong? to new readers.

Was That Wrong is a column in which I attempt to use satire to write about conduct that, hopefully, lawyers don’t need a CLE or confidential inquiry of bar counsel to know to avoid. An episode of Seinfeld served as the column’s inspiration.  The entries so far:

Ok. Ready for the answer?  As first reported by the Las Vegas Review-Journal, a Nevada judge presiding over a contested sentencing hearing made the news by ordering the defense attorney handcuffed to the jury box .  The transcript of the incident is here.

Now for the fallout: per the ABA Journal, last week, the judge was publicly censured and banned from the bench.  Here’s how I imagine it on Seinfeld:

  • Judicial Commission: We’re going to get right to the point. It has come to our attention that you ordered a defense attorney handcuffed to the jury box during her client’s sentencing hearing. Is that correct?
  • Judge: Who said that?
  • Judicial Commission: She did.
  • Judge: 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 held defendants in contempt and, well, this lawyer kept interrupting me.
  • Judicial Commission: You’re censured. And you can never be a judge again.
  • Judge: Well I’d already lost my re-election so you didn’t have to say it like that.

As always, be careful out there folks.

costanza

Was That Wrong?

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted a Was That Wrong column.  In a way, that’s good.  Yet, lawyers never fail to entertain disappoint.  So, we have another entry.

For those of you unfamiliar with Was That Wrong, it’s based on the “Red Dot” episode of Seinfeld.  In the episode, George Costanza had sex in his office with a character known only as “the cleaning woman.”  His boss found out.  Here’s their ensuing exchange :

(Scene) In the boss’s 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 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’s response served as my inspiration for the Was That Wrong column.  The column takes a break from my regular posts.  It features stories of the absurd & outrageous from the world of legal ethics and attorney discipline, highlighting misconduct that I hope you’ll instinctively avoid without needing a CLE that urges you to do so.

Today’s entry comes from Michigan.  Here’s how I picture it going down if it were a Seinfeld episode:

  • Hearing Panel:  We’ll get right to the point.  It has come to our attention that, despite what your resume and websites say:
    • you were never licensed to practice law in either Connecticut or Missouri;
    • you were never a summer associate in 2003 at law firms in Connecticut, Missouri, and Michigan.
    • you were never awarded a Master of Liberal Arts from Harvard University;
    • you were never a member of the 1996 U.S. Field Hockey Squad; or
    • you never competed in the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia
  • Lawyer:  Says who?
  • Hearing Panel Well, were you?
  • Lawyer:  Was that wrong? See, here’s the thing…..
  • Hearing Panel:  Disbarred.
  • Lawyer:  Well, you didn’t have to say it like that.

The order disbarring the attorney is HERE.

I’m not sure I can pick a favorite part of this case.  It might be when a member of the hearing panel asked the lawyer where he lived and, after a convoluted response, had to say “See, it’s not a trick question.  Where do you live now?”

In the end, Michigan’s Attorney Discipline Board stated that it agreed with a statement made by the hearing panel chair at the sanctions hearing. The statement is below, with the emphasis mine.

  • “I’ve been practicing for 62 years, I’m proud of my profession. I take this panel obligation very seriously and have for a good number of years. And I don’t want dishonest, deceitful,lying, conniving lawyers in my profession. I’ll tell you that right out. And you haven’t really – you haven’t really given me anything – any reasons why I shouldn’t put you in that category of a dishonest, deceitful, conniving. . .. Very frankly, I’m annoyed at your lack of response. I’m annoyed at the fact that you really didn’t acknowledge what you’ve done. You’ve misrepresented yourself all over the place. I don’t know why you think you can get away with this kind of conduct …. And I’m going to tell you something else while I’m telling you, you have seven years of college. You’re supposed to have some brains. You have the privilege of a law license from the state of Michigan. You have the privilege of belonging to one of the oldest professions. Okay? And you – from what I’ve seen, you don’t appreciate that. You haven’t given that the kind of appreciation and concern that I think it deserves.”

The Legal Profession Blog has the full story here.

costanza

Was that Wrong?

I’ve mentioned Casey Anthony on occasion in a question 5 of a Five For Friday quiz, as well as at a few county bar ethics trivia contests. She has ties to the latest installment of Was That Wrong?

costanza

For those of you not familiar with the column, in the famous “Red Dot” episode of Seinfeld, George Costanza had sex in his office with a character known only as “the cleaning woman.”  His boss found 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 ingnorance 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’s response served as my inspiration for a semi-regular Was That Wrong? column on the blog.  The column features stories of the absurd & outrageous from the world of legal ethics and attorney discipline, highlighting misconduct that I hope you’ll instinctively avoid without needing a CLE that urges you to do so.  To date, I’ve covered conspiring with police to set up opposing counsel for DUI and bringing a gun to your disciplinary hearing, and sexting a client.

In April 2010, Todd Macaluso filed a motion to withdraw from Casey Anthony’s defense team.  Per the State Bar of California’s records, Macaluso was ordered to inactive status on April 26, 2010.  In October 2015 he was placed on an interim suspension as a result of a conviction.  He was disbarred in November 2016. This press release outlines the plea deal that resulted Macaluso’s conviction.

This isn’t how it happened, but in my imaginary, Seinfeld-inspired tv show that focuses on the wild world of attorney discipline:

  • State Bar: We’re going to get right to the point. It has come to our attention that you entered into funding agreements that put your clients’ personal injury cases up as collateral without their knowledge or consent. And, also, that you defrauded investors by using forged documents to convince them to advance millions of dollars.
  • Attorney: Who said that?
  • State Bar:  The U.S. Attorney told us you pled guilty to the charges.
  • Attorney: Was that wrong? Should I have not done that?
  • State Bar: Disbarred.
  • Attorney: Well you didn’t have to say it like that.

Interestingly, at least from the point of view as a blogger, the story doesn’t end there.  As Paul Harvey would say, and now, the rest of the story . . .

. . . Macaluso was back in the news in this week.  He’s alleged to have plotted to smuggle 1500 kilograms of cocaine into the country.