I hate to do two posts in a row that deal with lawyers acting badly, but you take the news as you find it. While the last post dealt with a publicity hungry lawyer ignoring the rules regarding damage claims, this one is really, truly, ugly.
The Appellate Division (Fourth Department) suspended Rochester, New York attorney Lawrence Baker for two years for groping his adversary. Really. When I write grope, I really mean grope. As per the court in Matter of Baker:
In addition to the inappropriate conversation and conduct to which respondent admitted, the Referee found that respondent engaged in additional unwanted and highly inappropriate conduct of a sexual nature, including exposing his genitals to opposing counsel, twice kissing her on her neck and shoving both of his hands inside her blouse and bra and touching her breasts.
Sigh. I’m going to guess, and I don’t think I’m going too far out on a limb here, that Mr. Lawrence might be suffering from some kind of psychological issues. Because that ain’t normal for anyone. In the glass-is-half-full department, this is newsworthy because it is so abnormal. This isn’t exactly one of the issues that causes problems in the profession.
But in the glass is half-empty department, why wasn’t this guy disbarred? He even had a prior history of “engaging in illegal conduct that adversely reflects on his honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer,” among many other problems. For that he was censured.
When it comes to money issues regarding lawyers acting as fiduciaries, it seems the courts take a harsh stance. Sexual assault on your adversary is a lesser evil? This isn’t’ the first time the issue came up….From December 2008, with a very divided court on the subject: Sex Offender Keeps Law License