I just saw this story on ABA Journal as a cautionary warning to those lawyers who allow their emotions to get ahead of their judgment. Two Florida lawyers — Nicholas Mooney and Kurt Mitchell — have been sanctioned for an exchange of emails that included such notable comments as one calling the other a “scum sucking loser.” The state supreme court was not amused.
Mooney represents Volkswagen of America and is currently with Bromagen & Rathet. Kurt Mitchell of Palmetto is an accident lawyer. Mooney received a public reprimand and an order to take classes on professionalism. Mitchell received the harsher punishment of a suspension for 10 days and must complete an anger management class.
The emails started in May 2008 when the two men could not agree on the schedule for a hearing. Mooney, 50, referred to Mitchell as “Junior.” Later the men would add nicknames such as “Sparky” (for Mitchell) and “Corky” (for Mooney).
It started in May 2008. Mitchell was representing a plaintiff in a lawsuit against Volkswagen of America. Mooney was the attorney for the car company.
The two men couldn’t agree on the date of a hearing. The first volley came from the 50-year-old Mooney, who addressed his colleague as “Junior.”
references to being a jerk and an old hack. Then it got good. Mooney wrote Mitchell that he had a more prestigious practice that the type of stuff “handled by bottom feeding/scum sucking/loser lawyers like yourself.” Mitchell moves the discussion to a discussion of Mooney’s presumed disabilities that a manifested by “closely spaced eyes, dull blank stare, bulbous head, lying.” Mooney moves the discussion to the illegitimacy of Mitchell’s children, suggesting that he “check your children (if they are even yours. … Better check the garbage man that comes by your trailer to make sure they don’t look like him).”
Even for the most rough-and-tumble litigator, the last comment from Mitchell truly crosses the line. After Mitchell learned that Mooney had a disabled child, he writes “[w]hile I am sorry to hear about your disabled child, that sort of thing is to be expected when a retard reproduces … Do not hate me, hate your genetics. However, I would look at the bright side, at least you definitely know the kid is yours.”
The court ultimately dismissed Mitchell’s complaint against the car company with prejudice.
What I cannot find is how these exchanges made it to the ethics board.
After reviewing the decision, my legal analysis leads me to caution our attorneys on the blog from the following retorts in future emails:
Yo mama so dumb she stared at da orange juice bottle cause it said concentrate
Yo mama so dumb she sold her car for gas money
If I throw a stick, will you leave?
This isn’t an office. It’s Hell with fluorescent lighting.
May the Fleas of a Thousand Camels infest one of your Erogenous Zones.
Be instead guided by Alexander Pope:
And without sneering, teach the rest to sneer;
Willing to wound, and yet afraid to strike,
Just hint a fault, and hesitate dislike.
Source: St. Petersburg Times