Hello everyone and welcome to this Ethics Alert which will discuss the recent disciplinary complaint filed by the Illinois Disciplinary Commission against a Chicago, Illinois lawyer alleging, inter alia, that the lawyer left abusive voice mails telling the father of one client that “all black people are alike”, calling a nursing home administrator a “stupid Jew ass”, and using other abusive racial and ethnic language in the voice mails. The disciplinary complaint was filed in the case of In the Matter of the Michael Jerome Moore, Commission No. 2015PR00076 (August 26, 2015) and is here: http://www.iardc.org/15PR0076CM.html
The first count of the disciplinary complaint alleges that the lawyer represented a client in defending criminal aggravated battery charges beginning in 2012. The lawyer left voice mails with the client’s father in the summer of 2014 in an attempt to collect $300.00 in additional fees. The father had already paid a $3,500.00 under the fee agreement, as well as an extra $200.00. The voice mail included the following statements:
“You are a piece of garbage. All black people are alike. You’re slovenly, ignorant.”
“You better give me my money or your son’s case is going to be delayed.”
“I’m sick of you, you piece of shit.”
“Low class n—–s. I’m going to have you all locked up.”
“You’re ugly, low class, ignorant. I’ll finish with you when he gets off. You’re demeaning your son.”
The second count of the disciplinary complaint alleges that the lawyer represented an individual in matters related to a power of attorney that the individual had executed for the lawyer to assist him. The client was moved out of a nursing home and the lawyer left a voice mail with the nursing home in June 2014 protesting the nursing home’s release of the client. The voice mail included the following statements:
“You know, I tried to be academic, intellectual, and community-minded and everything else with you. What you’re supposed to do as a nursing home, you piece of [shoe or Jew] garbage. You put my girl out in the street and didn’t give a fuck, and didn’t let her come back, and know that she is mentally challenged. Are you mentally challenged, you piece of shit? Let me tell you something. There is a tort–with your stupid ass, you don’t know what that is—called violation of fiduciary capacity. And that’s what you’ve done in this, with your stupid Jew ass. Mother-fuck you, how you fucked my girl. Okay, I’m going to sue you, a federal law– I’ll sue you, sue the fuck out of you. You should’ve knew better. Fiduciary capacity carries with it a responsibility of the particular concerns of the person involved. She’s schizophrenic, hyper-paranoid schizophrenic, you piece of shit.”
The third count of the disciplinary complaint alleges that the lawyer violated the Illinois Bar disciplinary rules by:
“failing to provide competent representation to a client, by conduct including failing to file a completed petition for waiver of appellate fees and affidavit of indigency signed by Thomas and failing to respond to orders of the Wisconsin Court of Appeals, in violation of Rule 20:1.1 of the Wisconsin Rules of Professional Conduct; and
failing to act with reasonable diligence and promptness in representing a client, by conduct including failing to file a completed petition for waiver of appellate fees and affidavit of indigency signed by Thomas and failing to respond to orders of the Wisconsin Court of Appeals, in violation of Rule 20:1.3 of the Wisconsin Rules of Professional Conduct.”
Bottom line: This is another “you couldn’t make this up” moment. If the allegations are true, it appears that anger management may in this lawyer’s future. Although this is clearly an extreme case (if the allegations are true) it provides me with a good opportunity to remind all lawyers (and non-lawyer staff) that we all must be extremely careful with our words in voice mails, e-mails, and all other communications. Also, we must always keep in mind that a voice mail message may very well be accessed by a person other than a client; therefore, a v/m message should not reveal any attorney/client confidential information.
Be careful out there.
As always, if you have any questions about this Ethics Alert or need assistance, analysis, and guidance regarding these or any other ethics, risk management, or other issues, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Disclaimer: this blog is not an advertisement, does not contain any legal advice, and does not create an attorney/client relationship and the comments herein should not be relied upon by anyone who reads it.
Joseph A. Corsmeier, Esquire
Law Office of Joseph A. Corsmeier, P.A.
2454 McMullen Booth Road, Suite 431
Clearwater, Florida 33759
Office (727) 799-1688
Fax (727) 799-1670