Friday, July 30, 2010

The Tennessee Tantrum

A Greenville, Tennessee divorce attorney showed up for court believing the case was an "uncontested" divorce only to learn that in fact the matter was a "contested divorce.  According to the disciplinary opinion suspending him from the practice of law attorney Francis X. Santore went wild.

Santore exploded, he threw a cup of coffee across the courtroom and as he stormed down the court house stairs.  He violently wrenched a railing out of the risers.  Ultimately Santore was charged and plead guilty to vandalism and received a suspended year long sentence.  The disciplinary authorities suspended him for 33 months with all but 45 days "active suspension."

The Bad Lawyer blawg index is replete with accounts of outraged and angry lawyers some leading to fisticuffs, some involving bat wielding maniacs, vandals, nose biting, and tantrums of all sorts.  Some lawyers file ill-considered law suits and other forms of ridiculous pleadings traceable to out of control egos, immaturity and drug and alcohol abuse.  When I joined this profession I was astounded by the out of control acting out of lawyers, judges and others--usually unpunished and unsanctioned.  While still a law clerk, back in the day when complex documents were typed from scratch with each change I told a a veteran "probate referee" that he changed multi-page real estate transfer document in an estate matter 7 times requiring hours of re-typing.  The referee, who knew I was challenging his unthinking and arbitrary modifications--exploded and threatened to kill me.   Boy, was I surprised.

Now here's the thing.  I was wrong, according to the attorney I clerked for, why?  Because who cared how many times we walked this document back and forth between the courthouse in the middle of a blizzard, who cared how many times we had our secretary re-type this complex deed transfer--we got paid by the hour and this same referee would approve any fee we submitted for this work.  So, I apologized. 

Are you getting this? 

Who got screwed over ego?  The client.  In actuality, the beneficiary of whatever estate we were handling because larger fees were paid because the referee involved prolonged the process to assuage his ego; and, because some smart aleck law clerk called him on it.

Lawyers, especially young lawyer can be big baby's.  The divorce lawyer in Tennessee had planned his day out in a way that was rigidly fixed in his mind.  Perhaps he thought he could breeze from one proceeding to the next--and, when he discovered that what he though was a no-contest 15 minute divorce was in fact a "contested divorce trial" his control of his universe was upended.  He didn't get his way.  Reading between the lines of the disciplinary case, Mr. Santore is required to continue his involvement with the state lawyers' assistance program--this means he may also be coping with drug and alcohol issues.  This usually means the following equation applies:  attorney + alcohol=flaming asshole.  At least the latter calculus was true for me. 

5 comments:

  1. THATS NOTHING
    HE ALSO THREATENED MY WIFES LIFE AND DIDNT GET TROUBLE AT ALL FOR IT! HE DID IT ACROSS STATE LINES TO BOOT!!!! AHHHH OUR JUSTICE SYSTEM YEAH BABY!!!????????

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  2. THE STATE OF TENNESSEE DIDNT EVEN SLAP HIS WRIST?

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  3. Lawyer "Seth Lasater" in Columbia, TN. is a liar who steals from his clients by simply being a poor legal representative and then charging them for it. BEWARE !

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  4. Be careful before you choose any lawyer for any case.

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  5. Santore is a dumb ass who gets too wrapped up in his cases and acts like a two year old!! I would never hire him for anything!!

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