Question: Do Attorneys Need To Watch What They Say To Opposing Counsel and their clients?
Answer: Absolutely, or be subjected to discipline!
An attorney sent a letter to opposing counsel for the child’s mother (“Mother”) that said:
[Father] told me this week that he has only seen his baby … one day all year. Your client doesn’t understand what laws and court orders mean I guess. Probably because she’s an illegal alien to begin with. I want you to repeat to her in whatever language she understands that we’ll be demanding she be put in JAIL for contempt of court. I’m filing a copy of this letter with the Court to document the seriousness of this problem.
The letter was also sent to the judge presiding in the dissolution case and a complaint was filed.
The attorney argued that it was legitimate advocacy to connect Mother’s alleged violation of immigration laws with her violation of Father’s court-ordered visitation rights. However, regardless of the frustration Respondent might have felt in the circumstances, we conclude that accusing Mother of being in the country illegally is not legitimate advocacy concerning the legal matter at issue and served no substantial purpose other than to embarrass or burden Mother. For the attorney’s professional misconduct, the Court suspended him from the practice of law for a period of 30 days.