Ethics Lesson: Don’t Tase Opposing Counsel

Today’s Ethics Lesson is brought to us by a former attorney from San Diego who was disbarred in 2016 for, among other reasons, threatening to tase opposing counsel during a deposition.

The attorney was disbarred in a default judgment because he walked out of his disciplinary trial (needless to say, he scores a 10/10 for sass and confidence).  Of the eight misconduct charges filed against the attorney, the State Bar of California found that the attorney had committed four, which included:

  1. Violating the ethical duty to “employ only means consistent with truth” by filing a pleading in the superior court that falsely implied his mother was alive when she had passed away at least two months earlier (in fact, the proceeding in which he filed the pleading had been dismissed as moot because she had passed away);
  2. Violating the ethical duty to report judicial sanctions of $1,000 or more to the State Bar because the attorney did not timely report $14,500 in judicial sanctions he had incurred;
  3. Violating a court order because he failed to pay $26,302 worth of court-ordered sanctions;
  4. Engaging in moral turpitude by: “taking pepper spray and a stun gun to a deposition; displaying both the pepper spray and stun gun at the deposition; threatening to use the pepper spray and stun gun on opposing counsel if the deposition ‘got out of hand’; and discharging the stun gun while pointing it towards opposing counsel.”

This was not the attorney’s first ethical violation.  In 2011 he was suspended from the bar for 90 days because he threatened to have his client trigger an IRS audit against the opposing party in order to encourage a settlement (for those who are not familiar, it is a violation of the ethics code to threaten criminal and/or administrative charges in order to obtain an advantage in a civil matter).

Needless to say, if you are concerned about your safety in a deposition, the State Bar does not encourage these types of “self-help” measures.  We are forever grateful for this attorney for a horrifyingly entertaining story, and for reminding us that you should leave your weapons at home when interacting with opposing counsel.