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The Judge has grown weary of sulking in the shadows and letting the MeJDs and Chinaskis of Judged hog the limelight. Here you will find news about Judged, updates to our law firm rankings and the Judge’s daily ramblings. Want the real scoop? Check it out here.

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Last week, a former White House lawyer who served in both Bush administrations, was convicted of attempted murder and other charges, according to The New York Times. The charges stem from the beating of his wife at their home in Connecticut four years ago.

The person in question is John Michael Farren. He also served as the general counsel for Xerox Corporation. He was allowed to miss the trial after he told the court he could not handle the stress from it. Farren was in attendance last week when the jury issued its verdicts. The charges in the case include attempted murder, risk of injury to a child and first-degree assault.

According to prosecutors, Farren choked his wife, Mary Margaret Farren, and beat her using a metal flashlight. He did this until she went unconscious at their home in New Canaan in January of 2010. She was able to escape the home with her two daughters. She was attacked just two days after she served her husband divorce papers.

Farren disputed how serious the attack was during his trial. He also attempted to use a defense of mental health, but it was denied by the judge. Farren could face some 50 years in prison when sentenced. Sentencing is scheduled for September 11.

The verdicts were issued on just the second day of deliberation for the jury. It also came after three days of testimony at the Stamford Superior Court. Farren’s wife suffered broken bones in her cheek and jaw, according to testimony.

She claimed that her husband stood over her, squeezed her neck, and slammed her head into the floor.

She testified that “He said, ‘I’m killing you.’ ”

In a lawsuit filed against her husband, she was awarded $28.6 million for the injuries suffered.

Farren served as general counsel at Xerox in 2007, which was when he was named deputy White House general counsel for President George Bush’s second term in office. He served as the undersecretary for international trade under President George H. W. Bush in the Commerce Department. Farren also worked as the deputy director of the transition team for Bush in 1989. He then worked as the deputy manager for the re-election campaign in 1992.

According to News12 Connecticut, Farren’s family attempted to bail him out of jail last week. Instead, Farren rejected the efforts of his brother and has decided to remain in jail until his sentencing in September.


07-20-2014


On Thursday, a divided Florida Supreme Court ordered that a lawyer for a Death Row inmate must stay on the case despite the wishes of convicted murderer James Robertson. According to The Tallahassee Democrat, Robertson wants to be executed.

Steven Bolotin is the public defender for Robertson. Bolotin asked to be taken off the case earlier in 2014. He argued that the Florida Bar rules require him to represent the wishes of his client. Robertson was sentenced to death in 2012 for killing his cellmate in 2008. He has been in prison for more than 30 years.

“If the attorney is required to seek reversal of his client’s death sentence when the client adamantly desires affirmance of the death sentence it is a legal fiction, at best, to say that the attorney is acting ‘on (the client’s) behalf’ ... or providing advocacy of the client’s interests,” Bolotin wrote in a motion filed in January.

Bolotin was ordered to remain as the lawyer for Robertson in a 4-3 ruling by the state Supreme Court.

Chief Justice Jorge Labarga led the majority. Labarga was joined by justices R. Fred Lewis, Barbara Pariente and James Perry.

The majority opinion stated, “We conclude that there is simply no reason to depart from our reliable, established, and necessary procedure for requiring current counsel to proceed with diligent appellate advocacy to facilitate our mandatory review in death penalty cases where the defendant, in effect, seeks this court’s assistance in being put to death.”

The dissenting justices were Peggy Quince, Charles Canady and Ricky Polston.

According to the majority opinion, permitting Bolotin to withdraw from representing Robertson “would be both erroneous and unwise, and would result in a serious threat to the soundness of Florida’s capital sentencing scheme — not the least of which is the disruption and delay that would be engendered by granting the motion to withdraw.”

In the dissent, which was accompanied by Polston, Canady wrote that forcing Robertson to appeal a death sentence goes against his rights. The state constitution does not require those on death row to appeal their sentences.

“A defendant under a sentence of death should not be deprived of basic rights that are afforded to all other criminal defendants. Defense counsel in this case has been placed in an untenable ethical position because Mr. Robertson has not been allowed to waive his right of appeal,” Canady wrote.

Pariente wrote a separate opinion that supported the majority ruling of the court. Pariente wrote that the ABA guidelines require a lawyer to defend clients regardless of wishes of the clients.

“In other words, not only does the client have no right to commit state-assisted suicide, but it is actually ineffective — and therefore unethical — conduct for an attorney to accede to this request,” she wrote.

07-13-2014


A complaint has been filed with the 5th District Court by the Utah State Bar’s Office of Professional Conduct against a defense attorney in St. George, according to The Spectrum.

Todd Wahlquist, the bar’s deputy senior counsel, filed the complaint against Bryan Adamson. The complaint claims that Adamson accepted a $5,000 payment to represent Iron County resident Haylee Cheek. After little involvement in the case, Adamson was terminated, but he refused to return the money. Adamson said that he views the money as non-refundable.

“We’ve been fighting over it for over a year,” Adamson said when notified that Cheek’s parents filed a complaint against him.

Adamson is charged with three counts of unprofessional conduct from an investigation by the Ethics and Discipline Committee. The investigation was conducted under the rules that govern lawyer fees, the termination of representation and safekeeping a client’s property.

Adamson could be reprimanded, suspended or disbarred after arguments and evidence are presented to the court. The OPC has also asked that Adamson be found liable for court costs and other fees that the court finds just.

Adamson was handed two public reprimands in 2012 because of his billing practices. Those were handed down by the ethics committee of the bar. The formal complaint filed by the OPC against Adamson was the first filed against him.

Cheek was charged with multiple crimes from December of 2009 to April of 2010, but the info appears to be wrong because Cheek was charged in December of 2007 with armed robbery, sexual assault and kidnapping. In April of 2010, Cheek was charged with burglary, theft, fraud and drug charges. She was convicted of her crimes and sentenced to seven years to life in prison. She is serving her sentence, but has appealed the verdict from the jury to the state Court of Appeals.

Adamson was retained in July of 2010 by Cheek’s parents for a misdemeanor DUI case. Adamson was told he would represent Cheek in her other cases as well. Adamson received a $5,000 payment from Cheek’s parents, but a typical charge for a misdemeanor DUI case from Adamson is $750, according to Wahlquist.

Adamson was fired before the DUI case or any other case and the Cheek family asked for an itemized bill and the return of unearned fees.

“We had a flat fee contract and I told them, ‘No,’” Adamson said. “I’d already been to Cedar (City) twice. I had already used the majority of the money.”

06-15-2014


Maria Elena Perez, the third-party attorney at the center of the Nevin Shapiro/NCAA/Miami enforcement has been charged with three violations of the Florida Bar, according to CBS Sports.

The complaint was filed on Monday as the bar claims that Perez violated regulations involving diligence, competence and candor toward the tribunal in the case of Shapiro.

Francine Walker, a spokesperson for the Florida Bar, said that proceedings could take one year, but typically last anywhere from three to six months at a time. Walker also noted that sanctions could threaten the practice of Perez. If lighter sentences are handed down, Perez could see just a letter of reprimand.

The NCAA investigation of Shapiro was halted when the NCAA learned that Perez was used to obtain information. In September of 2011, Perez told the NCAA that she could use her subpoena power in a Shapiro bankruptcy proceeding to acquire information that the NCAA would not have been able to acquire any other way.

There are regulations within the NCAA as to how people can acquire information during a formal investigation. An external review was conducted and the NCAA supported the Florida Bar. The review found that the enforcement staff of the NCAA continued with the Perez assistance even though the NCAA legal staff warned against it.

Permission was granted for former enforcement director Julie Roe Lach to spend some $20,000 to use Perez in order to acquire information outside of the control of the NCAA.

The second in command at the NCAA, COO Jim Isch, “felt the University of Miami investigation was important enough to set aside a budget of about $15,000 for a potential expenditure of funds,” according to the complaint.

For her use of Perez, Lach was removed from her post in February of 2013. Isch did not receive discipline in the case. The NCAA received a bill from Perez for $65,000 and received a final payment of $18,325 from the organization.

The complaint states that Perez billed the NCAA for paralegal services while billing at a rate for an attorney. An external review was announced on January 24, 2013 by NCAA president Mark Emmert. Emmert said that 20 percent of the information gathered in the investigation was thrown out.

During the investigation, former enforcement officer Ameen Najaar was fired. Rich Johanningmeier retired prior to the completion of the case in October of 2013.

NCAA accepted the self-imposed two-year ban on bowl games by Miami as well as the removal of a couple of scholarships. Shapiro is in prison for 20 years for his role in a Ponzi scheme. According to the NCAA, Shapiro used cash and benefits to please Miami recruits and players.

A charge of competence from the Bar means that an attorney "requires the legal knowledge, skill, thoroughness and preparation … for representation.”

A charge of diligence means that a lawyer must act using “reasonable diligence" when representing a client.

“Candor toward the tribunal” means that a lawyer will not issue a false statement or show false evidence.


04-17-2014


Attorney Dennis Hawver had to defend his license in front of a disciplinary panel for how he handled a capital murder case. Hawver described his law practice as a 'country practice' when he testified in November, according to The Topeka Capital-Journal.

Hawver told the panel, consisting of three people, that his practice in 'rural' Jefferson County is made up of 40 percent criminal cases and 60 percent of civil cases. He said the cases are in his county of residence and surrounding counties.

The business card for Hawver says, "Your country lawyer." There is a picture of a tree in a grassy field on the business card. Hawver practice in Hawaii for 10 years too.

Phillip D. Cheatham Jr. was convicted of the shooting deaths of two women and the wounding of a third woman. Cheatham was defended by Hawver in the December 2003 crime that took place in a house in Topeka.

Cheatham was convicted of the crime in 2005 and sentenced to death and to prison terms of more than 78 years. The Kansas Supreme Court overturned Cheatham's conviction and death sentence in 2005 because of Hawver's ineffective assistance of counsel. The retrial for Cheatham is pending.

The presiding officer of the panel, Philip D. Ridenour, said that country lawyers might not always be prepared to handle complex cases such as a capital murder case. Ridenour said that country lawyers do know their clients very well, but they sometimes might lack training and skills to defend a client who is in danger of a death sentence.

Ridenour wrote a 'concurring note' in the 27-page final hearing report. He wrote, "I have practiced law as a country lawyer in one of the most rural areas of the state of Kansas for more years than Mr. Hawver has been a lawyer. We country lawyers live among our clients and come to know them well, to understand their backgrounds, experiences, concerns and aspirations, values and beliefs."

Ridenour continued with a mention of his 40 years of experience, saying that no outside firm or lawyer could expect to provide "my clients the same informed quality of advice on the sorts of legal issues that routinely arise."

"But the converse is also true," Ridenour wrote. "As a country lawyer, I am unqualified and do not have the time or the resources to handle questions that arise in complex legal issues I have never dealt (with) or never had the necessity to research."

Ridenour noted that he is required to decline representation of a client for a legal issue if he does not have the qualifications to handle the case.

"Untold additional hours of time of Kansas judges and lawyers have been and continue to be required to try to remedy the harm done by Mr. Hawver," Ridenour wrote. "Mr. Hawver had a professional duty to decline the representation; he failed to do so, and that failure constituted a violation of the Kansas Rules of Professional Conduct."

The final hearing report was issued on March 14 by the panel of the Kansas Board for Discipline of Attorneys. Two of the members of the panel urged the justices to disbar Hawver and the third suggested that Hawver be suspended indefinitely from practicing law.

Hawver's conduct was found to have "caused actual injury to the administration of justice. As a result of the respondent's misconduct, a capital murder case has been remanded for a second trial."

The panel also concluded that Hawver "was not competent to represent Cheatham."


04-13-2014


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