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According to the ABA Journal, a Connecticut lawyer has been suspended for four months and barred from representing female clients for the rest of his career after he was accused of representing women in family law and domestic-violence cases in violation of a 2010 court order.

The disciplinary counsel had initially sought disbarment for lawyer Ira Mayo, alleging he had violated the court order at least 11 times, the Connecticut Law Tribune reports. Mayo agreed to the suspension and ban on representing women to resolve the disciplinary complaint.

Mayo was accused in two prior ethics cases, according to the Connecticut Law Tribune. In the first he was suspended for 15 months after he was accused of making unwanted advances to female clients referred to him by a group for abused women, the story says. In the second, he was banned from representing women in family law or domestic violence cases after he was accused of offering to waive attorney fees in exchange for a massage.

The short suspension for lawyer Ira Mayo outraged a woman who filed a recent grievance against Mayo after he represented her on assault charges in a domestic-violence case, the Connecticut Law Tribune says. Leah Castro called the short suspension “a slap on the wrist” and told Connecticut Law Tribune she believed he should be disbarred.

Some of the comments on this ruling are below:

“As an attorney, it is clear to me this man should be disbarred.  As a woman, the actions of the Connecticutt Discipline system indicates a problem with their valuation of these issues.  Consider if the discipline would be the same if this man repeatedly made unwanted sexual advances and actions against males.  I think not.  As a retired prosecutor, it is clear this man is a sexual predator.  Another reason to disbar.”

As a young solo practitioner in a small town I took over the office lease from a downsizing sole practitioner who specialized in small divorce actions – great location right across the street from the courthouse. Ground floor storefront + a great brick loft style mezzanine with a skylight.

He said that I could buy as much of the office furniture as I wished except for one piece and he pointed to a cheep looking 3’x3’x3’ laminated cube on which he had placed a coffee maker and cups. Puzzled, I asked “what is it”. He then pulled out a tab and out flopped … a spring loaded single bed. He then looked at me with a mischievous grin and quickly added “I have negotiated many a fee on this bed! It has too much sentimental value for me to part with.

He was not an attractive man; 60; fleshy, paunchy, and red cheeked from 5,000 too many liquid lunches. I was literally speechless.

Apparently this kind of thing used to go on 30 years ago, a lot. Until then I had never heard of the practice.”

“I’m sitting here trying to imagine how a guy like this will fit his predatory predilection into a “men’s rights” style divorce practice, and I fear that the state bar in Connecticut may have created the practitioner’s version of Frankenstein.”

“I’m sure the next time the judge calls for order in the court, every response will end with “. . .and hold the Mayo.””

“Can he represent transgendered clients?”

“Household name divorce lawyer Marvin Mitchelson, who made a name suing actor Lee Marvin for “palimony” (and breaking new ground with the California Supreme Court) was then flooded with palimony cases and leased a upmarket office in Century City office complete with a Jacuzzi soaking tub in an anti-room off of his office. He was later accused by two clients of rape and reputedly had a habit of meeting with clients naked in his hot tub. he was never prosecuted for sexual impropriety.  (He was later sentenced in 1993 to 4 years in prison for tax fraud.)”

I don’t know about any of you, but this “suspension” seems a bit odd and clearly raises some interesting questions about who Mr. Mayo can represent.  I would be interested to know what any of you think of this suspension.

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In an article in the ABA Journal, it is reported that a former law student at the Massachusetts School of Law claims in a lawsuit that he received an unfair D grade in contracts.

The suit by Martin Odemena says the D grade resulted in a suspension and made it impossible for him to transfer to another law school, the National Law Journal reports. He is seeking more than $100,000 in damages for the lost legal career. The suit, filed Friday in Massachusetts federal court, claims violations of state consumer protection laws.D grade

Martin Odemena claims that he earned a D in his contracts class because professor Joseph Devlin counted the results of several quizzes—initially presented as optional—into his final grade.

Odemena filed a pro se suit on Friday in U.S. District Court for Massachusetts naming both Devlin and the law school as defendants. He seeks upwards of $100,000 in compensatory damages for not currently having a legal career, plus attorney fees and a declaration that the quiz results do not count toward his grade.

After receiving his low grade, Odemena was suspended and given a letter declaring that he was not in good standing with the law school. That letter, in turn, made it impossible for Odemena to transfer to another law school, according to the complaint.

“Plaintiff has tried all possible means to resolve this matter with the defendants without success, and the plaintiff has spent a lot of money retaining counsel in numerous attempts to resolve this matter with defendants,” the complaint reads. “Furthermore, since the defendants gave the plaintiff a not-good-standing letter because of the D grade in the contracts class, the plaintiff has suffered actual harm. Plaintiff could not get into any other law school with a not-good-standing letter, and his legal career is for all practical purposes over.”

This could be interesting, but I highly doubt it will survive the Motion to Dismiss that Peter Malaguti, who acts as the school’s general counsel, intends to file.  

In a case in Pennsylvania in 2013, student Megan Thode wasn’t happy about the C-plus she received for one class, saying the mediocre grade kept her from getting her desired degree and becoming a licensed therapist — and, as a result, cost her $1.3 million in lost earnings.

A Northampton County judge rejected the claims of Ms. Thode, the former Lehigh University graduate, a verdict that upheld the school’s insistence that she earned the mark she got.

After four days of testimony in a civil trial last year, Judge Emil Giordano decided that the Bethlehem university neither breached a contract with nor sexually discriminated against Megan Thode.

Seems it might be tough to prove that you did not get the grade you feel you deserve, so I guess we will stay tuned to see what happens with Mr. Odemena’s case.

 

 

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I am sure there are times that attorneys and judges want to go at each other physically, but I never thought we would see it on camera.

Warning, there is profanity in the video.

http://Judge, attorney fight after argument in court

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Assembly Member Dickinson has introduced AB 888, an act to amend Section 17206 of, and to add Sections 6126.6 and 6126.7 to, the Business and Professions Code, relating to the State Bar.

Existing law prohibits a person from practicing law in California, or from advertising or holding himself or herself out as practicing law, unless the person is an active member of the State Bar, or otherwise authorized, as specified, to practice law in this state. A violation of these provisions is a crime.

This bill would, for violations of the above-described provisions, require the State Bar to disclose, in confidence, the information in its investigation to the agency responsible for the criminal enforcement of these provisions or exchange that information with that agency. This bill would authorize the State Bar to request the Attorney General, a district attorney, or a city attorney acting as a local prosecutor, to bring an enforcement action or bring a civil action in its own name, as specified.

The bill would require the court, in a civil enforcement action by the State Bar for the unlawful practice of law, to impose a civil penalty not to exceed $2,500, to be paid to the State Bar.  The bill would also require the court to impose a civil penalty not to exceed $6,000 for the intentional violation of any injunction prohibiting the unlawful practice of law.

The bill would also require the court to consider, when applicable, additional relief provided under existing law and to award reasonable attorney’s fees and costs, as specified.

Go here to read the complete analysis of this bill.  On July 2, 2013, the Senate ordered the bill to a third reading.

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According to the salary guide released by Robert Half Legal, 2013 should see an increase in paralegal salaries by 3.1 to 3.9 %, depending on the size of the firm you work for.  You can get a copy of their salary guide here.

You can also use their salary calculator to obtain salaries in your local area as well and check out the hiring trends, not only in your area but nationwide and you can check out the fastest growing industries locally and nationwide as well.

legal positions 2013

 

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Ouch!  That has to hurt!  Running for a judicial seat and then sanctioned and reported to the State Bar.  This just happened to attorney Judy Conard, who practices in Lake County, California.

The First Appellate Court found the appeal to be frivolous and not only sanctioned Ms. Conard $6,000, but issued $15,000 in sanctions against her client as well.

Last October, Theodore Parfet, who lives in Michigan, appealed an order that he pay the attorney fees for Amy Tucker, the Respondent in the Family Law case, incurred while she opposed his motions to modify child custody, visitation and child support, according to the decision, which can be read here.

Ms. Conard said they appealed the amount of attorneys’ fees, which at nearly $80,000 were in excess of what the interim fees were to be.  The three appellate justices found “the degree of objective frivolousness and delay is extremely high,” and that “pursuing a meritless appeal of an attorney fee award under the circumstances of this case flies in the face of the very purpose of the Family Code attorney fees statutes.”  Further, they found that Conard had a professional responsibility not to pursue a frivolous appeal just because her client instructed her to do so, the justices said Conard violated her duties by facilitating the appeal “and by advancing arguments which exceed the bounds of both common sense and sound advocacy.”

The justices also stated “We join other courts in recognizing that the respondent is not theonly party damaged by a frivolous appeal.” ‘Others with bona fide disputes, as well as the taxpayers, are prejudiced by the wasteful diversion of an appellate court’s limited resources.’  The handling of this appeal has imposed a burden on this court.”

 To add insult to injury, Ms. Conard and the court clerk were each ordered to forward a copy of this opinion to the State Bar upon return of the remittitur.  Whether charges will be filed by the bar against Ms. Conard has yet to be seen.  The lesson here for attorneys?  Beware of filing an appeal just because your client wants you to, be sure that there is merit to the appeal, it could cost you, not only monetarily but professionally.
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Sometimes judges can be funny, (ok, maybe this was not that funny, but I got a chuckle out of it) as evidenced by Judge Lucy Koh last week when she stated, “I mean come on. 75 pages! 75 pages! You want me to do an order on 75 pages, (and) unless you’re smoking crack, you know these witnesses aren’t going to be called when you have less than four hours.”

I don’t think attorney Bill Lee thought Judge Koh was funny when he replied, “Your honor, I can assure you, I’m not smoking crack.”

You can read more of this article here.

 

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In an article at Law.Com this past week, undocumented immigrant, Sergio Garcia, is challenging the California Supreme Court for his right to become an attorney.  Garcia’s application for a green card has been pending for 18 years, when his father applied for him when he was 17.  Seems a mighty long time to wait for a green card.

Garcia enrolled in community college and later transferred to California State University, Chico, where he had to pay out-of-state tuition rates because of his undocumented status.  After taking four years of night classes, Garcia received his J.D. from Cal Northern School of Law in Chico in May 2009. He passed the bar exam on his first try two months later.

Garcia said he never worried that his immigration status would stop him from becoming a lawyer. Prior to 2008 the bar didn’t ask applicants about their residency, a spokeswoman confirmed.  But when Garcia applied for his moral character review in late 2009 he got the question. He wrote in the answer “pending.” Months went by with no response.

“Everybody told me, ‘Sergio, you sound like a nice guy, but it’s nothing we want to get involved in. It’s a personal struggle,’” he said. “At that point I started googling State Bar law firms.”  That’s when he found the husband-and-wife legal team of Jerome Fishkin and Lindsay Slatter, whose three-attorney Walnut Creek firm specializes in cases involving applications and disciplinary cases pending before the State Bar.

Last fall, the Committee on Bar Examiners forwarded its recommendation that Garcia be admitted to the bar to the state Supreme Court. Fishkin said he and Slatter figured the case would be settled one way or the other, in private, with a minute order. But then in May, the court publicly asked for briefing in the case.

The Committee of Bar Examiners, as well as attorney general Kamala Harris, has argued that Garcia should be admitted to the bar because law licensure is the purview of the state Supreme Court, not the federal government.

Even though the Obama administration has opposed his bid to join the State Bar, Garcia has spent recent days helping young adults apply for so-called deferred action, the new federal program that will protect undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children from deportation, at least temporarily. Garcia is four years too old to qualify for the deferral. He said he’s not bitter.

Garcia is keenly aware that his story reads like a made-for-the-big-screen tale. That’s why the ambitious 35-year-old is writing his autobiography. Publishers and producers are already calling, he said.

“It’s on hold for now,” Garcia said in a recent interview. “I’m waiting for the happy ending.”

Another California case worth watching.  What are your thoughts on Mr. Garcia’s case?

 

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In case you were out this week and missed the new fee increases,  (lucky you if you are), I am attaching the new Statewide Fee Schedule for your reading pleasure.   Of course, you should check with your county to make sure when the fees increase there, I know they did in the county in which I work effective July 2nd.

In reviewing the new fees for my county, I was shocked to learn that the fees for the filing for a Complaint and an Answer in Civil, a Petition for Dissolution or Legal Separation or First Paper Fee in Family, and Petitions in Probate all increased from $395 to $435.

Be sure to check out the other increases, such as filing motions, delivery of a will to the court, court reporter fees and child custody evaluations.  Also, don’t forget that your local rules may have changed effective July 1st as well.

Stay safe and have a wonderful Fourth of July!

 

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The Northern District of California recovered $346,983,000.30 in civil and criminal cases during fiscal year 2011, according to U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag. Of that amount, $309,685,106.50 was collected in criminal actions and $37,297,893.80 was collected in civil actions, Haag’s office reported.

Nationwide, the U.S. Attorneys’ offices collected $6.5 billion in criminal and civil actions during fiscal year 2011, surpassing $6 billion for the second consecutive year.

The $6.5 billion represents more than three times the appropriated budget of the combined 94 offices for fiscal year 2011.

“During this time of economic recovery, these collections are more important than ever,” U.S. Attorney Haag said. “The hard work of the attorneys and staff has helped return millions of dollars to the U.S. treasury and victims of crimes, while ensuring that the criminals who wrongfully took the funds were put behind bars.”

To read more about the monies collected, see the article with the Lake County News, here.

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