Category Archives: Lawyer disbarment personal misconduct

Arizona lawyer disbarred upon consent for disparaging book about his client Jodi Arias which violated client confidentiality

Hello everyone and welcome to this Ethics Alert which will discuss the recent disbarment of an Arizona lawyer who represented notorious murder defendant Jodi Arias and published a book with disparaging details about the representation and revealing attorney/client confidential information without the consent of the client.  The case is In the Matter of Laurence K. Nurmi, Case No. PDJ-2016-9115.

The lawyer began representing Jodi Arias as an assistant public defender.  She was charged in the lurid and violent murder of her boyfriend in Arizona in 2008 and was found guilty of first degree murder in May 2013; however, the jury was unable to reach a unanimous decision on whether to sentence her to death.

Another sentencing hearing was held in the fall of 2014 and that jury voted 11-1 to sentence Arias to death.  The death penalty vote must be unanimous in Arizona and Arias was subsequently sentenced to life in prison in April 2015.  She has appealed the verdict and sentence.

Sometime in 2015, the lawyer began writing a book detailing his representation of Arias without written/oral permission or authority from Arias to publish or disseminate any information related to the representation.  According to the allegations, the book presents a negative view of Arias and the case.  The lawyer’s self-published book, Trapped with Ms. Arias: Part 1 of 3 From Getting the File to Being Ready for Trial (Volume 1), was released in 2015.

The book includes multiple confidential discussions between the lawyer, Arias, and her family. The book also provides details of the case, makes disparaging remarks, and makes several statements regarding the substance of witness interviews and inadmissible exhibits.  The lawyer also continued to disclose and explain certain facts and circumstances in the book related to his representation of Arias in promotional radio interviews.

In October 2016, the State Bar of Arizona filed a formal complaint against the lawyer for revealing attorney-client confidential information about Arias and her case in the book.  The lawyer attempted to settle the case with a 4 year suspension; however, Jodi Arias objected to that sanction.

Immediately after the announcement of the consent agreement, the Maricopa County public defender, James Haas, objected to the Arizona Bar because the agreement did not specifically order the lawyer to stop violating ethical rules with regard to the Arias case, including revealing confidential information, since the book was listed as one of 3 volumes.

The lawyer filed a request for disbarment on November 14, 2016.  The presiding disciplinary judge accepted the lawyer’s request on November 21, 2016 and issued an order making the disbarment effective the same day.

Bottom line:  This lawyer chose to write a book in a highly publicized and lurid case which disparaged his client and revealed attorney/client confidential information, including conversations with her and her family and disparaging comments.  Aria’s conviction is currently on appeal and it has been alleged that information in the book may jeopardize that appeal.

All lawyers should be aware that, unless the client provides informed consent, a lawyer is strictly prohibited from revealing attorney/client confidential information, even after the representation has been concluded.

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.

29605 U.S. Highway 19 N. Suite 150

Clearwater, Florida 33761

Office (727) 799-1688

Fax     (727) 799-1670

jcorsmeier@jac-law.com

www.jac-law.com

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Filed under Attorney discipline, Attorney Ethics, Attorney/client confidentiality, Attorney/client privilege and confidentiality, Confidentiality, Confidentiality and privilege, Ethics and lawyer withdrawal, joe corsmeier, Joseph Corsmeier, lawyer confidentiality, Lawyer disbarment, Lawyer disbarment personal misconduct, Lawyer discipline, Lawyer ethics, Lawyer Ethics and Professionalism, Lawyer sanctions

Indiana lawyer disbarred for, inter alia, “profoundly disturbing” harassment, “repugnant pattern of behavior and utter lack of remorse”

Hello everyone and welcome to this Ethics Alert which will discuss the recent Indiana Supreme Court opinion which disbarred a lawyer for a “repugnant pattern of behavior and utter lack of remorse”, deceitful responses and lack of candor, neglect involving an appeal, unwillingness to appreciate the wrongfulness of his misconduct, and propensity to shift blame to others and see himself as the victim.  The case is In the Matter of R. Mark Keaton, No. 02S00-1302-DI-95 (April 21, 2015).  The link to the opinion is here: http://www.in.gov/judiciary/opinions/pdf/04211501per.pdf

According to the opinion, the lawyer, who was married at the time, began a romantic relationship with his daughter’s roommate.  The roommate ended the “tempestuous long-distance relationship” in March 2008 and “from March 2008 through April 2010, at least 7,199 emails were exchanged between The lawyer and the roommate), the vast majority sent by (the lawyer). Both (the lawyer’s) oral and written communications to (the roommate) were threatening, abusive, and highly manipulative in nature.”

The lawyer also left “profoundly disturbing” voice mails on the roommate’s telephone and the opinion gave an example of one of the them: “(Shouting) Call me the f— back! I don’t know who the f— you think you are.  But I’ll tell you what, you better f—ing call me f—ing back now!  You f— with me one more time and this time you’ll really f—ing pay for it!  And you need to think about it! Now you f—ing quit f—ing with me!”

The lawyer also threatened suicide and carried through on his threat to post nude photos of the roommate, by sending them to others in e-mails, posting them on adult websites, and posting them on his own blog, along with “disparaging diatribes” about her.  According to the opinion, the lawyer still refuses to take down his blog.  The lawyer also filed three lawsuits against the roommate and others and “made duplicitous statements to the (disciplinary commission) in reference to those related proceedings.”

The lawyer argued that his contact with the roommate was mutual and consensual.  He further argued that she had a form of mental illness and her requests for him to stop contacting her actually indicated her desire to submit to him.  He also argued that his actions did not constitute stalking or harassment.

The opinion states that this “outrageous behavior falls woefully short” of the ethics requirements that lawyers be of good moral character and fitness. “Put simply, (the lawyer) engaged in-and continues to engage in-a scorched earth campaign of revenge in the wake of being dumped by (the roommate) seven years ago”. “Most disturbingly, despite the entreaties of (the roommate) and several others, (the lawyer) simply has refused to take ‘no’ for an answer.”  The Court disbarred the lawyer effective immediately since the lawyer was already suspended and imposed costs.

Bottom line:  This case involves some very disturbing conduct by a lawyer who apparently went off the deep end and engaged in outrageous conduct when an individual with whom he was having a relationship (his daughter’s former roommate no less) broke it off.  This case is disturbing on multiple levels, including the apparent complete lack of recognition by the lawyer that his conduct was outrageous and unethical and arguing that it was not stalking or harassment.

Be careful out there (and of course don’t do this).

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.

2454 McMullen Booth Road, Suite 431

Clearwater, Florida 33759

Office (727) 799-1688

Fax     (727) 799-1670

jcorsmeier@jac-law.com

www.jac-law.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Attorney discipline, Attorney Ethics, joe corsmeier, Joseph Corsmeier, Lawyer conduct adversely affecting fitness to practice, Lawyer disbarment, Lawyer disbarment personal misconduct, Lawyer discipline, Lawyer ethics, Lawyer Ethics and Professionalism, Lawyer sanctions, Lawyer threats and discipline