Monday, July 19, 2010

Stop Screwing the Client, Dammit!

Mike Frisch at the Legal Profession Blawg features the report of the suspenion of an Iowa attorney, William Ray Monroe (pic, from his website where he claims the hiring decison should not be based on advertising, alone--mmmmm) for having sex with his client.  Bravo!  Here, on Bad Lawyer, I've ranted and raved about the disciplinary tolerance for this sort of misconduct.  The logic of the Iowa Supremer Court in sustaining this suspension seems impeccable to me and is in my view applicable to all professioal-client realtionships.  This is from the Iowa Supremes decision:

"Clearly, [the attorney] needs a better understanding of his ethical obligations, the vulnerability of clients under the stress of a dissolution or facing criminal charges, and the impact a sexual relationship between him and his client has on his client and his own ability to professionally represent that client. Without this knowledge, [he] poses a risk to the public. We also note, however, that [he] has contributed a significant amount of time to the representation of clients on a pro bono basis. In addition, members of the bar and of the judiciary testified at the hearing that, other than the matter that brought [him] to the attention of the disciplinary authorities, he has practiced in an ethical fashion. Taking all of the pertinent factors into consideration, we concur in the commission’s recommendation that [his] license to practice law in this state be suspended for thirty days."

According to Mike Frisch, "the court rejected the contention that a violation of the 'sex-with-client' rule establishes a per se violation of the 'conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice' prohibition."  On the down-side this character only received a 30 day suspension.

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