How would you like to be up for a double murder and then learn that your lawyer was sleeping with your wife during the trial? That is what Robert Caulley learned after he was sentenced to 25 years to life for the murder of a father and mother. Then he learned that his now ex-wife (no surprise there) was sleeping with his lawyer, James D. Owen. Owen is now trying to keep his license while admitting that he violated the core ethical rules governing our profession. Not only did he have an affair with the wife of a client, but could be viewed as having an incentive to shackle the cuckold. If his client were to lose, it could be viewed as a good way to get rid of an inconvenient husband.
In what was viewed as a burglary gone bad, Lois and Charles Caulley were beaten and stabbed to death in their home on Jan. 16, 1994. Robert Caulley was the one who called police after he said that he found their bodies. Three years later, the police subjected Caulley to an unrecorded interrogation and obtained a confession that he later said was coerced.
The disclosure came out 14 years after the trial. It was revealed that he would have sex with the wife in his office and at a cabin. Only hours after the conviction of his client, Owen allegedly took Celeste Caulley Bowman to a local motel to have sex. She says in an affidavit that it was in the tryst after the conviction that Owen said that he loved her. Bad timing all around.
She said that they would have sex as many as four times a week and that Owen encouraged her to leave Caulley.
She had been married to Caulley for eight years before his conviction. They divorced in 2000.
To her credit, Bowman has come forward, if belatedly, to help her former husband. Caulley has been granted a new trial. The question is whether this ethical breach 15 years ago should bar Owen from practicing law.
The Caulley trial is notably omitted from the list of famous cases on Owen’s website. He is a graduate of Capital University Law School.
What do you think? Should this be a disbarring offense after he admitted guilt or should he face suspension only?