There is a bizarre case out of Arizona where lawyer Dennis Wilenchik has been given a formal sanction of admonishment from the bar after he sent profanity laced emails to a client who he accused of failing to pay his bills. The emails also included a reference to the movie Deliverance and its notorious rape scene. After accepting the discipline, Wilenchick now is seeking to set aside the discipline in light of new evidence. The discipline included a one-year probation period during which Wilenchick would have to continue with anger management treatment.
Some coverage of the discipline was critical at the time of the compromise on the lack of more serious punishment.
Wilenchik was upset with a client who ran a medical marijuana consulting business. In his emails, Wilenchik called his client a “cheap asshole” and threatened to sue for the fee — to which the client responded “Bring it, bitch!”
Wilenchik responded to that taunt with “OK drug dealer—I look forward to the many nights and mornings when you think of my name and squeal—you mean nothing to me. Check out the movie Deliverance.”
Wilenchik’s lawyer however introduced new evidence that the client did not take offense and did not believe (as was suggested by the Bar) that he was at risk of being sexually assaulted. The complaint suggested that the client took the Deliverance reference literally but in his declaration the client states:
“In fact, I thought that Mr. Wilenchik’s last Deliverance email to me was rather humorous actually, and stated in such a manner that neither I nor any reasonable person would or could seriously construe this to be a real intent to harm me or my family . . . Moreover, Mr. Wilenchik’s last Deliverance email to me was exactly what I would expect anyone, including a lawyer, to write after I sent an email saying, ‘Bring it bitch.’ In other words, these emails were harmless banter which I instigated and therefore it is impossible for me to have been offended.”
The complainant also says that he was “in shock and disbelief” that the bar actually disciplined Wilenchik and that he filed the complaint to avoid the payment of the debt. The client now praises Wilenchik as a great lawyer and that he was unfairly treated by the Bar.
I fail to see how Wilenchik was unaware of the position of the client or, more importantly, the bar was unaware. It seems to be determinative at the client considered the language to be a joke. Is the language professional? No. However, the meaning can turn on the relationship of the lawyer and the client. Moreover, in this case, the client reportedly admitted that he brought the complaint to try to avoid paying a debt. That seems a fairly compelling case for vacating the earlier order and at least considering the new evidence.
Clearly the emails were dumb but the question is whether they warrant discipline.
What do you think?
Source: ABA Journal
12 thoughts on “Arizona Lawyer Seeks To Vacate Bar Sanction After Profanity Laden Email”
James Dickey??? Deliverance??? Oh, Pansies discovered his lost poem which formed the basis of the book and movie!
“You sho’ got a perrty mouth!”
Lawyers? Who cares?
I am tough on attorneys. But, this is a situation where the relationship between the client and attorney is key. If the client didn’t take offense, then it was not offensive. That said, I am skeptical about the client saying the vulgarities were not the issue when the complaint was filed. Where is the complaint? Was not the client interviewed as part of the discipline process? This does not pass the smell test.
The blog censors curse words and other civilly unkept language. How about banning ALL CAPS. In any event stop sending the dork above any posts.
MAYBE YOU GUYS WOULD STOP SENDING ME THESE POSTS AND GIVE US AN UNSUBCRIBE BUTTON THAT WORKS IF I HAD THIS HIGHLY-MOTIVATED ANGRY LAWYER WRITE YOU AN EMAIL ! YOU WOULD PROBABLY WRITE A POST AND IGNORE THE REQUEST. KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK CONNECTING WITH YOUR READERS, BOTH LOYAL AND NOT SO LOYAL.
Thomas Barton JD – I do hope your legal research is better than your research on WordPress. If you do a little investigation you will find the unsubscribe button(s).
A great example of why we should do away with the Legal profession. Hell, representative democracy as well. Just make life a reality show. Computer vote on all cases. Police, corporations, citizens, present their case to a judge. All evidence is viewable on line. Twenty four hours to vote on guilt. Judge presents options of punishment based on vote. Another 24 hours to select proper action. Citizens vote on proposed laws, amendments, proposed by representatives or lobby groups. I would give more time for journalist and lobbyists to argue their cases for proposed laws and amendments. MAJORITY RULE.
I realize this may present a problem with the economy. Citizens will make minimum wage a million dollars. Oh well, borrow more from the Fed. That is how money is created, right? No problem as long as the world fears our military the “Dollar” is safe!
@ Renegade: The use of “who” above was correct.
I would let him off since the client has recanted.
I think a reprimand is appropriate for unprofessional conduct and bringing discredit to the profession. But one year of anger management treatment is clearly excessive. Nor is there any evidence, based on this article, that the lawyer has an “anger” problem. He used vulgar language in email to a client. That’s it. The punishment should focus on the objectionable conduct and nothing more.
“…he sent profanity laced emails to a client who he accused of failing to pay his bills.”
Allow me some fun here?
The really egregious language used is that which is found in the gramatical error above.
It’s as if chalk or fingernails screech on the blackboard when a professional slips with “who and whom” and “I and me.”Y
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