Lawyer Christopher Kirby certainly had quite a night when he appeared to represent the East Ramapo School District at a simple school board meeting. By the end of the evening, Kirby was leaving just before the arrival of police, a community was in full uproar, and his firm was terminated from further representation of the District. How can things get that bad, you ask? It started with a smirk.
When parent and special education advocate Peggy Hatton stood up to discuss the treatment of her son at Spring Valley High School, she was respectful and even complimentary to teachers at his school. Hatton raised the fact that her son had failed the science portion of his exam by one point, producing an audible laugh from the board lawyer, Kirby. Hatton responded reasonably by saying “Is it funny? I’m sorry. Shame on you.” Kirby then walked out. He should have stayed out but, as with much of the evening, seemed drawn to the controversy like a moth to a flame.
Kirby returned with a clear smirk on his face. Hatton objects that “You’re still smirking at me, please!” Kirby responded with an incredibly unprofessional “Oh would you please shut up, for Christ’s sake.” Another woman rightfully objects from the audience.
Here is that scene:
What is astonishing is the complete lack of response from the board who sit there without an apparent care in the world as their lawyer acts like a schoolyard bully. Hatton correctly objects “You should all be ashamed of yourselves, to let him sit there and treat me like that when I am not attacking anybody.” The board still just sits there as Kirby taunts “Still smirking.”
Undone, Kirby continues his antics in the parking lot where he calls a man with a videocamera an “asshole.” He then tries to start a fight and says “I’m standing in your way; you gonna do something about it?” He then accuses the man named Luciano of standing behind “your women. What a man, what a tough guy.”
In the meantime, police were called by Hattan as Kirby meltdown in profanity laced acts.
Here is that scene (warning graphic and disturbing language):
Notably, a board member has finally shown some life and intervened, if only to get Kirby to go home. Board member Yonah Rothman is shown trying to coax the district’s lawyer back to some level of sanity.
The board proceeded to terminate the contract of Minerva & D’Agostino, a Long Island-based law firm which has represented the district since 2009.
The next question is whether Kirby will face bar charges for his disrespectful and unprofessional conduct.
DR 1-102 states that it is a disciplinary offense for a lawyer to:
3. Engage in illegal conduct that adversely reflects on the lawyer’s honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer. . . .
5. Engage in conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice. . . .
7. Engage in any other conduct that adversely reflects on the lawyer’s fitness as a lawyer.
Normally, an altercation in a parking lot is not a matter for the bar but this confrontation began in a representational setting where Kirby acted like a juvenile.