In the famous “Red Dot” episode of Seinfeld, 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.
Among some of my closer friends, “was that wrong?” is often the response one of us gives when another asks “did you seriously __________?” the blank filled in by something idiotic.
Costanza’s response serves as my inspiration for a new column on Ethical Grounds: Was That Wrong? The column will feature 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.
Here are the entries in Was That Wrong?
- Trying to mislead disciplinary authorities into believing that you had died
- Dodging service of a disciplinary complaint by pretending to be your identical twin
- Conspiring to defraud the U.S. Government
- Being shorted by drug dealers, then claiming they robbed you
- Diverting client funds to run a strip club
- Putting a convicted embezzler in charge of the trust account
- Inexplicable Incompetence and a Thomas Jefferson Costume
- Cannabis (In)Competence
- Forging Wiretap Orders to Spy on a Romantic Rival
- Framing a volunteer at your kid’s elementary school for drug possession
- Smuggling toothbrushes and pepper spray to an incarcerated client
- Prosecutor Snoops on Conversations between Defendant & Defense Counsel
- Representing Plaintiff AND Defendant, WHILE sleeping with Defendant
- Forging Judges’ Signatures
- Swearing at a Judge who Overrules Your Objection
- Judge Orders Attorney Handcuffed to Jury Box
- Outrageous Falsehoods on a Resume
- Defrauding Investors, with Client Funds as Collateral
- Sexting a Client
- Conspiring with police to have your paralegal set up opposing counsel for a DUI mid-trial
- Bringing a gun to your disbarment hearing