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Attorney E-Newsletter

July 2008

Lawrence, Bevilacqua Join Disciplinary Board

The Supreme Court has appointed two attorneys to the Disciplinary Board. Gerald Lawrence, Jr., of Lowey, Dannenberg, Cohen & Hart, P.C. in West Conshohocken, Montgomery County, was appointed to a term on the Disciplinary Board running through April, 2011. Gabriel S. I. Bevilacqua, of Saul Ewing LLP in Philadelphia, has been named to a term running through May, 2011.

California, There We Went

Lots of bar news coming out these days, most of it from California, which has proposed to post its pending disciplinary proceedings online and require attorneys to provide addresses and contact information to be posted online. Of course, we here in Pennsylvania have been doing both for years now.

Hey, Golden State, let us know if you need anything else.

EZ, Dude!

This ad by a Florida lawyer cuts to the chase, doesn't it? So is an ad that uses the words "poison," "hellhole," "piece of #### three-piece suit downtown," "illiterate boob at the courthouse," "champagne," and "vermin" ethical?

Fortunately it's not ours to say, but we note that the lawyer in question is not using the video at his new website, www.divorcedeli.com. That's right – "divorce deli."

Lyin' Lawyers

Although some would accuse us of redundancy for the above headline, this month brings some stories of lawyers who got in trouble for spontaneously creative communication.

Arizona lawyer Carl Macpherson may be faulted as much for the limits of his imagination as for his willingness to use it. He obtained the continuance of a hearing by telling a judge's assistant he was ill and had a doctor's appointment, but was spotted later that afternoon playing golf. Although the facts are disputed, Macpherson received a 30-day suspension for his white lie (or was it a green lie? Or just a bad lie?)

Now for the record, let's be clear that the Disciplinary Board would never condone any lawyer lying to anyone. Numerous disciplinary cases demonstrate that. However, some lies are worse than others. Lie about your golf score, eh, who cares?1 Lie to your clients, to a court, or to law enforcement officers, and you'll be in a world of trouble.

On the other hand, even lying under official circumstances can be, well, not justified, but perhaps in some cases less bad than others. Take the case of Arkansas lawyer Calon Blackburn Jr.  Mr. Blackburn was serving as a civilian legal adviser to the Army in Qatar. He was found with a deep stab wound, and told investigators he had been attacked by a burglar.

Not quite, it turns out. In fact, Mr. Blackburn later admitted he had been stabbed by a married Thai woman with whom he was having an affair. He "told a whopper," in his words, because the affair was a capital crime under Qatari law.2

Blackburn was permitted to retire quietly and received a written reprimand rather than a suspension under a settlement with the Arkansas Supreme Court's Office of Professional Conduct.

Tip of the Month: Cookie Monsters

Browsing an opponent's or witness's web site for useful information? This can be a powerful advocacy tool, but don't assume your visit is anonymous. The Legal Technology page at Law.com has an interesting article that discusses how website managers can use "cookies" – small files your browser records when you visit – to identify visitors who view certain pages. The article also discusses other advantages and risks of online investigation.

Got a Tip?

Or a comment, a question, a request, a suggestion? Let us know at comments@padisciplinaryboard.org.

Last month we noted that our grammar in this section had been corrected by a helpful subscriber. Our thanks to Bruce Yasgur for the, er, tip.

1Carl Macpherson may not agree with this.

2Or so he claimed. On the other hand, our crack investigative staff conducted a detailed probe3 and discovered that the only capital offenses in Qatar are espionage, threat to national security, and apostacy.4

3Okay, we looked it up in Wikipedia.

4On yet another hand,5 maybe in a country that reserves the right to snuff you for apostacy, all bets are off.

5Can someone lend us a hand?