I wrote about attorney, Daniel Bernath back in June when an amazing story at the Oregonian caught my eye. This is the tale of the egomaniac social security disability attorney who got into a wrestling match with a Dan R. Hyatt, a social security judge while the two stood awaiting an elevator. It goes without saying that there was massive bad blood between these gentlemen. This is reporter Bryan Denson's follow up:
"A federal magistrate Wednesday ordered Social Security lawyer Daniel A. Bernath to undergo anger-management counseling after an altercation with a judge on a downtown Portland elevator last spring.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Paul J. Papak found Bernath guilty of disorderly conduct for the March 31 dust-up with Dan R. Hyatt, a judge in Social Security's disability hearing office. Papak dressed Bernath down for his behavior -- such as lampooning Hyatt on his website as a Ku Klux Klansman and behaving like a preschooler fighting for a swing -- and said officers of the court are expected to treat judges with respect.
'This trial,' Papak said, 'is an embarrassment, in my mind.'
The tiff on the lift climaxed a three-year war of words between Bernath, a Tigard attorney who represents clients in disability cases, and Hyatt, one of the judges who hears those claims at the Portland hearing office. Their squabbles -- which include dueling state bar complaints, claims of slander and a $10 million lawsuit -- were chronicled in a July story in The Oregonian.
The spat began in 2007, when Hyatt questioned Bernath's honesty in a disability hearing. The judge felt Bernath lied when he said he'd never been suspended by bar officials in California, where he holds a law license; Hyatt turned over an audio recording of the hearing to an Oregon State Bar investigator. Bernath filed six bar complaints against the judge, all dismissed. He also sent letters to tax officials that suggested Hyatt had cheated on his taxes. Bernath mailed letters to a slew of lawyers asking for dirt on Hyatt. He posted accusations against the judge -- including claims of cruelty, dishonesty and racism -- on his website: oregonshyster.com.
Only one of the allegations got traction. The CD that Hyatt had given the bar had the Social Security number of a claimant, an invasion of privacy. The agency imposed a four-day suspension on Hyatt, who by then had recused himself from hearing Bernath's cases.
Much of the rancor between the two was recounted during Wednesday's nonjury trial, where each man accused the other of instigating the elevator incident at Duncan Plaza.
Hyatt testified that he refused to permit Bernath to join him on a car heading downstairs because he feared him. The two men clashed at the threshold of the lift in what was described as a loud argument and one or more chest bumps, followed by a swarm of security guards and Bernath's arrest. After five hours of testimony, Papak sentenced Bernath to a year of probation and required him to pay a $10 court fee, attend anger management and have no contact with Hyatt.
'I hope I don't see any of you in the court again,' he said."
As I said in June, I can't tell you how many characters I've known over the years like Bernath. Totally nuts.