Ohio lawyer held in contempt and ordered to promise not to engage in disruptive conduct 25 times in “legible” handwriting

Hello everyone and welcome to this Ethics Alert which will discuss the recent contempt order by an Ohio judge for a lawyer’s disruptive conduct which fined the lawyer $500.00 and required him to promise 25 times in “legible” handwriting not to engage in conduct “that is prejudicial to the administration of justice” or conduct “intended to disrupt a tribunal or engage in undignified or discourteous conduct that is degrading to a tribunal.”

According to media reports, the lawyer was held in contempt by the Ohio judge for leaving the defense table in a criminal case during jury instructions because he objected to the judge’s refusal to instruct jurors on Ohio’s self-defense laws and also for acting unprofessionally several times during the trial.

The contempt order required the lawyer to write in legible handwriting:  “I will not engage in conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice or in any other conduct that adversely reflects on my fitness to practice law” and “I shall not engage in conduct intended to disrupt a tribunal or engage in undignified or discourteous conduct that is degrading to a tribunal.

The lawyer was held in contempt on the last day of a criminal trial in which his client, a former police officer, was accused of attacking his wife. The lawyer argued that the client had acted in self-defense and left the defense table during jury instructions because he objected to the judge’s refusal to instruct jurors on Ohio’s self-defense laws.

According to the reports, the judge stated that the lawyer had “thrown a tantrum” and acted unprofessionally several times during the trial.  The lawyer is quoted as stating: “I was totally wrong in how I protested. I don’t think I was wrong in what I was fighting for.”  He also said that he had expected a jail sentence.

Bottom line:  This lawyer drew significant media attention for his disruptive conduct and for the judge’s unusual sanction.  Trial lawyers must always be aware that a lawyer is prohibited from engaging in disruptive conduct in court, even if the lawyer believes that the judge is wrong and the lawyer’s cause is right.

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.

2999 Alt. 19, Suite A

Palm Harbor, Florida 34683

Office (727) 799-1688

Fax     (727) 799-1670

jcorsmeier@jac-law.com

www.jac-law.com

 

Joseph Corsmeierabout.me/corsmeierethicsblogs

About jcorsmeier

Joseph A. Corsmeier is an “AV” rated attorney practicing in Clearwater, Florida. He concentrates his practice primarily in the areas of defense of attorney disciplinary matters before The Florida Bar, attorney admission matters before the Florida Board of Bar Examiners, and professional license and disciplinary matters before the Boards of the State of Florida. He provides expert analysis and opinion on conflict of interest and other attorney disqualification and legal malpractice issues and he testified as an expert in the Florida courts. He served as an Assistant State Attorney in the Sixth Judicial Circuit from 1986 to 1990 where he prosecuted felonies exclusively from June 1987, and as Bar Counsel for The Florida Bar’s Department of Lawyer Regulation from 1990 to 1998. He also practices in the areas of estate planning and Medicaid qualification, workers’ compensation, and labor law. Mr. Corsmeier is the author of numerous articles for various bar publications, has spoken at numerous local and statewide seminars on various topics, including ethics and professionalism, and was an instructor of legal ethics for paralegals at Rollins College until the Tampa campus closed. He received his undergraduate degree from Florida State University and his J.D. from Mercer University. He is admitted to practice in all Florida Courts, the Supreme Court of the United States, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, and the Middle District of Florida. He is a member of The Florida Bar, American Bar Association, the Association of Professional Responsibility Lawyers, and the Clearwater and St. Petersburg Bar Associations.
This entry was posted in Attorney disruptive conduct in litigation, corsmeier, joe corsmeier, joseph corsmeier, Lawyer conduct adversely affecting fitness to practice, Lawyer conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice, Lawyer conduct that adversely reflects on fitness to practice, Lawyer disruption of tribunal, Lawyer Ethics, Lawyer sanction- writing promising no more disruption, Lawyer sanctions, Uncategorized and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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