The invaluable Legal Profession blawg reports on the opinion of the NJ Supreme Court suspending a lawyer for one year. NJ must be a pretty tolerant state, because this guy has had several go rounds with the authorities in the past, mostly relating to client communication problems.
David Witherspoon's client communication problems now include soliciting sex from his clients in exchange for proposed discounts on attorney fees or as the NJ Supreme Court calls it "attempted sexual bartering." Mike Frisch at Legal Profession summarizes as follows:
The . . . charges involved allegations that [Witherspoon] offered discounted legal services or refunds to three female clients and the daughter of a fourth client 'in the context of suggestions that they perform certain acts with him or with other women while he watched.' He told one lesbian client that her lesbianism was caused 'by a bad experience with the male sexual organ,' that she was 'looking good,' and that he 'would return $600 of fees she had paid him if she joined him on the office couch.' He claimed that these and other similar comments were made in jest.
The attorney's explanation was rejected by a district ethics committee and the Disciplinary Review Board. The DRB proposed a three-month suspension with two dissenters favoring a six-month sit down. The court here took a sterner view, although the court majority concluded that disbarment was 'disproportionate...for his boorish, insensitive and offensive, but hardly criminal, conduct.'
Justice LaVecchia, joined by Justice Albin, would disbar: 'A zero-tolerance policy toward attorneys who prey on clients, whether financially or as [he] has done, is needed to protect the public and the reputation of the profession.'"
You know where the Bad Lawyer comes down on the exploitation of clients. Clients are vulnerable and easy prey, the lawyer/predator is not fit to practice law.