Monthly Archives: February 2020

Ohio lawyer held in contempt and ordered to promise not to engage in disruptive conduct 25 times in “legible” handwriting

Hello everyone and welcome to this Ethics Alert which will discuss the recent contempt order by an Ohio judge for a lawyer’s disruptive conduct which fined the lawyer $500.00 and required him to promise 25 times in “legible” handwriting not to engage in conduct “that is prejudicial to the administration of justice” or conduct “intended to disrupt a tribunal or engage in undignified or discourteous conduct that is degrading to a tribunal.”

According to media reports, the lawyer was held in contempt by the Ohio judge for leaving the defense table in a criminal case during jury instructions because he objected to the judge’s refusal to instruct jurors on Ohio’s self-defense laws and also for acting unprofessionally several times during the trial.

The contempt order required the lawyer to write in legible handwriting:  “I will not engage in conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice or in any other conduct that adversely reflects on my fitness to practice law” and “I shall not engage in conduct intended to disrupt a tribunal or engage in undignified or discourteous conduct that is degrading to a tribunal.

The lawyer was held in contempt on the last day of a criminal trial in which his client, a former police officer, was accused of attacking his wife. The lawyer argued that the client had acted in self-defense and left the defense table during jury instructions because he objected to the judge’s refusal to instruct jurors on Ohio’s self-defense laws.

According to the reports, the judge stated that the lawyer had “thrown a tantrum” and acted unprofessionally several times during the trial.  The lawyer is quoted as stating: “I was totally wrong in how I protested. I don’t think I was wrong in what I was fighting for.”  He also said that he had expected a jail sentence.

Bottom line:  This lawyer drew significant media attention for his disruptive conduct and for the judge’s unusual sanction.  Trial lawyers must always be aware that a lawyer is prohibited from engaging in disruptive conduct in court, even if the lawyer believes that the judge is wrong and the lawyer’s cause is right.

Be careful out there.

Disclaimer:  this e-mail 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.

2999 Alt. 19, Suite A

Palm Harbor, Florida 34683

Office (727) 799-1688

Fax     (727) 799-1670

jcorsmeier@jac-law.com

www.jac-law.com

 

Joseph Corsmeier

about.me/corsmeierethicsblogs

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Filed under Attorney Ethics, joe corsmeier, Joseph Corsmeier, Lawyer cumulative misconduct disruptive and obnoxiousl behavior, Lawyer disrupting tribunal, Lawyer disruptive conduct, Lawyer disruptive litigation conduct, Lawyer ethics, Lawyer Ethics and Professionalism, Lawyer Professionalism, Lawyer sanctions, Lawyer sanctions promising not to disrupt in writing, Uncategorized

Arizona legal advocates program beginning in September 2020 will train non-lawyers to provide limited legal advice

Hello everyone and welcome to this Ethics Alert which will discuss the Arizona licensed legal advocates program beginning in September 2020 which will provide training for non-lawyers to provide limited  legal advice.  A recent news release on the program by the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law is here:  https://law.arizona.edu/news/2020/02/new-licensed-legal-advocates-pilot-program

The Rogers College of Law initiated a two-year pilot project that will license a small group of non-lawyers to give limited legal advice on civil matters related to domestic violence.  The individuals will be known as licensed legal advocates and will be trained to provide legal advice on protective orders, divorce, child custody, consumer protection and housing.

Three to four lay legal advocates from Southern Arizona’s Emerge! Center Against Domestic Abuse are expected to start an eight-week training program at the law school in September 2020.  The individuals must have a bachelor’s degree and at least 2,000 hours of experience as a lay legal advocate.  The Arizona lay legal advocates will be permitted to provide general information about legal forms and court procedures in issues stemming from domestic violence, but are prohibited from providing legal advice.

The training will have an online curriculum and in-person classes.  The Arizona Supreme Court’s Administrative Office of the Courts is working with the Innovation for Justice Program to include a licensing examination for the course. If the pilot is made permanent, the licensed legal advocates will be required to take continuing legal education courses after completing the training.  Individuals who are required to appear in court in a matter will represent themselves; however, the licensed legal advocate will be permitted to sit at that individual’s table.

The pilot project runs until the end of 2021 and includes a research study which will review procedural fairness, whether a licensed legal advocate was able to provide the required level of legal services, and case outcomes.

The 2020-2021 pilot project results from a 2019 Arizona Supreme Court task force report on legal services delivery which recommended, inter alia, the elimination Arizona Rule of Professional Conduct 5.4 (based on Rule 5.4 of the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct) which restricts lawyer partnerships with nonlawyers in law firms.  An American Bar Association Task Force Report in October 2019 also recommended elimination of the Model Rule

The October 2019 American Bar Association Task Force on the Delivery of Legal Services Report is here:   https://www.americanbar.org/content/dam/aba/administrative/legal_education_and_admissions_to_the_bar/council_reports_and_resolutions/november2019/arizona-supreme-court-task-force-on-delivery-of-legal-services-final-report-2019-october.pdf

The Arizona Supreme Court is expected to vote on the recommendation to eliminate Arizona Bar Rule of Professional Conduct 5.4 in August 2020.

The Arizona Supreme Court authorized a pilot project creating a legal document preparer program to assist people in domestic violence matters.  As I previously reported, the Utah Supreme Court voted in August 2019 to pursue a regulatory reform working group’s recommendations, which included either eliminating or relaxing Utah’s Rule 5.4 and the Ethics Alert blog on that vote and working group report is here:  https://jcorsmeier.wordpress.com/2019/09/03/utah-supreme-court-approves-pilot-program-to-permit-non-traditional-legal-services-including-non-lawyer-firm-ownership/

The Utah working group report and the Arizona Supreme Court task force report are both referenced in the report accompanying proposed American Bar Association Resolution 115, which is scheduled to be considered and potentially approved by the ABA House of Delegates on Feb. 17, 2020 at the ABA Midyear Meeting in Austin, Texas. The resolution requests that the ABA to encourage jurisdictions to consider regulatory innovation and examine existing regulations, including those related to the unauthorized practice of law.

Bottom line:  This Arizona non-lawyer “legal advocate” pilot program permitting non-lawyers to give limited legal advice is a continuation of the trend toward expanding the non-lawyer practice of law and also authorizing non-lawyers to own legal service entities.  As always, I will be following it and I will keep you advised

Be careful out there.

Disclaimer:  this e-mail 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.

2999 Alt. 19, Suite A

Palm Harbor, Florida 34683

Office (727) 799-1688

Fax     (727) 799-1670

jcorsmeier@jac-law.com

www.jac-law.com

 

Joseph Corsmeier

about.me/corsmeierethicsblogs

 

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Filed under 2018 Utah rules permitting non-lawyer legal practice, 2019 California non-lawyer practice and ownership proposals, 2019 Utah pilot program permitting non-traditional legal services, including non-lawyer firm ownership, ABA Resolution 105 non lawyer ownership of law firms, fee sharing, Fee sharing with non-lawyer owned firms, joe corsmeier, Joseph Corsmeier, Non lawyer compensation, Non-lawyer limited practice of law, Non-lawyer ownership, Non-lawyer ownership of law firms, non-lawyer ownership of law firms and fee splitting, Non-lawyer practice of law, Non-lawyer practicing law, Uncategorized

Florida Supreme Court removes juvenile delinquency and dependency questions from Florida Bar Examination Part A

Hello everyone and welcome to this Ethics Alert which will discuss recent Florida Supreme Court opinion which removed the topics of juvenile delinquency and dependency from Florida Bar Examination Part A effective immediately.  The case is In Re: Amendments to the Supreme Court Rules Relating to Admissions to the Bar, Case No. SC19-2018 and the January 23, 2020 opinion is here:  https://www.floridasupremecourt.org/content/download/569082/6430364/file/sc19-2018.pdf

In a per curiam opinion (without briefing or argument) dated January 23, 2020, the Supreme Court revised Rule 4-22 of the Supreme Court Rules Relating to Admissions to the Bar. The opinion states that the Court took action after an informal discussion last summer between the justices, the 12 Florida law school deans, and the Florida Board of Bar Examiners.

According to the Court’s opinion:

We remove these two subject areas because we agree with the law school deans that these subjects test specialized knowledge falling outside the general competency that the General Bar Examination is intended to test.  Rule 4-21 of the Rules of the Supreme Court Relating to Admissions to the Bar provides that the purpose of the General Bar Examination is to ‘test the applicant’s ability to reason logically, to analyze accurately the problem presented, and to demonstrate a thorough knowledge of the fundamental principles of law and their application’.  We believe that amending rule 4-22 to eliminate these two subject areas will increase the validity of the Florida Bar Examination by allowing law school graduates to engage in more thoughtful analysis of core legal subjects instead of memorizing highly technical rules and information for a limited period of time.

These amendments shall take effect immediately upon the release of this opinion and will apply prospectively, beginning with the first 2020 examination. Because the amendments were not published for comment prior to their adoption, interested persons shall have seventy-five days from the date of this opinion in which to file comments with the Court.

The opinion also states:  “Because the amendments were not published for comment prior to their adoption, interested persons shall have seventy-five days from the date of this opinion in which to file comments with the Court.  In a footnote, the opinion states that comments must be filed via the E-Filing Portal on or before April 7, 2020.

Bottom line:  After informal discussions, the Court decided to remove the topics of juvenile delinquency and dependency from the Florida Bar Examination; however, the law school deans had also requested removal of Article 3 (negotiable instruments) and Article 9 (secured transactions) of the Uniform Commercial.  We will see if those topics are removed in the future and law students need to be aware that those topics will remain fair game on the Bar Examination.

Be careful out there.

Disclaimer:  this e-mail 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.

2999 Alt. 19, Suite A

Palm Harbor, Florida 34683

Office (727) 799-1688

Fax     (727) 799-1670

jcorsmeier@jac-law.com

www.jac-law.com

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Florida Bar admission, Florida Bar General Examination Part A, Uncategorized

Florida Supreme Court removes juvenile delinquency and dependency questions from Florida Bar Examination Part A

Hello everyone and welcome to this Ethics Alert which will discuss recent Florida Supreme Court opinion which removed the topics of juvenile delinquency and dependency from Florida Bar Examination Part A effective immediately.  The case is In Re: Amendments to the Supreme Court Rules Relating to Admissions to the Bar, Case No. SC19-2018 and the January 23, 2020 opinion is here:  https://www.floridasupremecourt.org/content/download/569082/6430364/file/sc19-2018.pdf

In a per curiam opinion (without briefing or argument) dated January 23, 2020, the Supreme Court revised Rule 4-22 of the Supreme Court Rules Relating to Admissions to the Bar. The opinion states that the Court took action after an informal discussion last summer between the justices, the 12 Florida law school deans, and the Florida Board of Bar Examiners.

According to the Court’s opinion:

We remove these two subject areas because we agree with the law school deans that these subjects test specialized knowledge falling outside the general competency that the General Bar Examination is intended to test.  Rule 4-21 of the Rules of the Supreme Court Relating to Admissions to the Bar provides that the purpose of the General Bar Examination is to ‘test the applicant’s ability to reason logically, to analyze accurately the problem presented, and to demonstrate a thorough knowledge of the fundamental principles of law and their application’.  We believe that amending rule 4-22 to eliminate these two subject areas will increase the validity of the Florida Bar Examination by allowing law school graduates to engage in more thoughtful analysis of core legal subjects instead of memorizing highly technical rules and information for a limited period of time.

These amendments shall take effect immediately upon the release of this opinion and will apply prospectively, beginning with the first 2020 examination. Because the amendments were not published for comment prior to their adoption, interested persons shall have seventy-five days from the date of this opinion in which to file comments with the Court.

The opinion also states:  “Because the amendments were not published for comment prior to their adoption, interested persons shall have seventy-five days from the date of this opinion in which to file comments with the Court.  In a footnote, the opinion states that comments must be filed via the E-Filing Portal on or before April 7, 2020.

Bottom line:  After informal discussions, the Court decided to remove the topics of juvenile delinquency and dependency from the Florida Bar Examination; however, the law school deans had also requested removal of Article 3 (negotiable instruments) and Article 9 (secured transactions) of the Uniform Commercial.  We will see if those topics are removed in the future and law students need to be aware that those topics will remain fair game on the Bar Examination.

Be careful out there.

Disclaimer:  this e-mail 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.

2999 Alt. 19, Suite A

Palm Harbor, Florida 34683

Office (727) 799-1688

Fax     (727) 799-1670

jcorsmeier@jac-law.com

www.jac-law.com

 

Joseph Corsmeier

about.me/corsmeierethicsblogs

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Bar admission, Florida Bar examination, Florida Board of Bar Examiners, Florida General Bar Examination Part A, Uncategorized

Florida Bar’s Board of Governors approves proposed Bar rule amendment to pay inventory attorneys

Hello everyone and welcome to this Ethics Alert which will discuss recent Florida Bar Board of Governors (BOG) approval of proposed amendments to Florida Bar Rule 1-3.8, Right to Inventory, which would authorize payments to designated inventory attorneys to assist and wind up law practices of lawyers who die, disappear, or are otherwise unable to practice law.  The inventory attorney is also permitted to take over the representation of the previous lawyer’s clients if those clients consent.

The BOG voted to support the BOG Disciplinary Procedure Committee’s proposal at its December 6, 2019 meeting in Orlando.  The proposed rule revision has been under consideration since 2017 and had a first reading at the BOG’s December 2018 meeting; however, it was deferred for further review.

Florida Bar Rule 1-3.8 currently requires Florida Bar members to designate an inventory attorney to wind down the practices of lawyers who die, disappear, or are otherwise unable to practice law.  According to a Bar staff report, the Bar opened an average of 41.4 inventory cases each year during the past five years and each of the Bar’s five branch offices spend approximately 120 hours per year searching for inventory attorneys.

Under the proposed Bar rule revisions, an inventory lawyer who pursues payment for work performed would be required to submit an application detailing the work performed along with other information and request the payment.  The Executive Director of the Florida Bar would set the amount of payment with the approval of the BOG and the Bar would administer the payments.  The initial cost of the payments to inventory attorneys was estimated to be $100,000.00; however, the costs are expected to rise.

Proposed Rule 1-3.8(e) states:

(e) Payment of Inventory Lawyer. The Florida Bar may pay a fee set by the bar’s executive director as approved by the board of governors and within the bar’s annual budget for that year to a lawyer who agrees to conduct an inventory under this rule. Payment by The Florida Bar to an inventory lawyer will be made only with prior approval by the bar, on an application approved by the bar, and under parameters set by the bar.

The proposed Rule 1-3.8 amendments will be sent to the Florida Supreme Court for final review and potential implementation.

Bottom line:  This Bar Rule amendment is designed to address issues related to inventory attorneys and pay them for their work, presumably to encourage lawyers to become inventory attorneys.  I will follow this proposed Bar Rule amendment and keep you advised.

Be careful out there.

Disclaimer:  this e-mail 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.

2999 Alt. 19, Suite A

Palm Harbor, Florida 34683

Office (727) 799-1688

Fax     (727) 799-1670

jcorsmeier@jac-law.com

www.jac-law.com

 

Joseph Corsmeier

about.me/corsmeierethicsblogs

Leave a comment

Filed under Florida Bar, Florida Bar Rule 1-3.8, Florida Bar Rule 1-3.8 inventory attorney, Florida Bar rule revision to pay inventory attorneys, Florida Bar Rules, Florida Supreme Court, Inventory attorneys, joe corsmeier, Joseph Corsmeier, Lawyer ethics, Lawyer Ethics and Professionalism, Uncategorized