Wordiness does not pay; Rule 1.18 violation causes suspension; Judge forgets role.

Too Wordy?

Belli v. Hedden Industries pleadings get whacked by federal judge for wordiness. J. Merryday even edited the 127 word opening sentence of a Motion for Expanded Brief, to 47 words, and said that if the court could edit that much out of the Motion, just think what some editing could do to the brief that exceeded the 25 page limit. The judge did give the lawyer a week to fix the brief, and get it to the 25 page limit.

Hat tip to Lisa Solomon


Potential Clients get to have secrets kept – or else

A tattoo artist and pawn shop owner called a lawyer about a potential case. Chris Cicero, a lawyer in Columbus OH was called the day his potential client Ed Rife had his house raided by federal officials investigating drug trafficking. They met the next day and talked about the potential criminal case, and about Rife’s association with some OSU college football players.  Later that day, and without permission from Rife, Cicero sent an email to then OSU football Coach Jim Tressel about the raid and the ties Rife had to the players. A couple of weeks later, as the investigation grew and Cicero had received further information from Rife during another interview, he sent a second, then a third email to Tressel. He told Tressel “What I tell you is confidential.” but it was Rife’s confidence that Cicero shared. Rife never hired Cicero to represent him in the charges.

Cicero was found guilty of violating Rules 1.18 and 8.4 of the Ohio RPC.  1.18 protects the rights of potential clients, and Cicero revealed confidential information received during discussions with the potential client, Rife. This was a case of first impression for the Ohio Supreme Court to rule on the violation of 1.18. There are only a handful of 1.18 cases reported around the country. Rule 8.4  prohibits lawyers from engaging in conduct that adversely reflects on the lawyer’s fitness to practice.

Cicero took advantage of an opportunity to get close to Coach Tressel at the expense of his potential client. For that he gets the next year on the bench, and off the legal playing field.

H/T to Legal Professions Blog, Bar Discipline and Process link (the most comprehensive site I have run across about the troubles lawyers get into).


Town Court Judge acting as Prosecutor?

The Fremont Town Court Judge Martha C. Hagerty, a non-lawyer, was publicly admonished for “assuming the role of a prosecutor” and engaging in multiple ex parte conversations with the actual prosecutor about a pending case.

The Indiana Commission on Judicial Qualifications found that the processes in the town court allowed defendants to discuss their cases with the judge, and she would then talk to the local prosecutor about working out deals. In one case the defendant wanted a contested hearing on an infraction ticket, which had resulted in a suspension of the defendant’s license to drive. The court suggested to the prosecutor that he amend the charges to avoid the hearing. That case dragged on for more than two years and the defendant filed a request for discovery. The judge and prosecutor discussed the defendant’s motion without the defendant present, and she denied the discovery motion. Finally, 38 months after the first contact the prosecutor dismissed the charges, and expunged the suspension.

When called on it, the judge admitted her mistakes, and agreed to a Public Admonition. No formal ethical charge will follow, and  office procedures are changing.

H/T Indiana Law Blog