News Roundup

ethics compass

Image from Shutterstock.com.

Panel recommends judge’s removal for school-dispute conduct

A judicial ethics panel has recommended removal of a judge in Union County, New Jersey, based on her conduct after her children’s Catholic school eliminated its girls’ basketball team. The judge, Theresa Mullen, was accused of obstructive deposition conduct in a civil suit against the school, filed by her husband in a bid to allow one of their daughters to play on the boys’ team. Mullen appeared for the deposition in a T-shirt and shorts and refused to answer 95% of the questions, according to the panel, the Advisory Committee on Judicial Conduct of the New Jersey Supreme Court. The panel also said Mullen showed a lack of candor in the ethics case and during a criminal trial on a charge of “defiant trespass,” which stemmed from her refusal to leave the school when confronting officials there. (NJ.com, Law.com, the Associated Press, the Feb. 3 presentment)

Lawyer sues ex-client for punching him

Cleveland lawyer Aaron Brockler has sued a former client who punched him in court after receiving a 47-year prison sentence. The client, David Chislton, was found not guilty of felonious assault in the attack after his new lawyer argued that Brockler’s injuries weren’t that serious. Brockler ended up with hairline fractures to his nose and a sprained knee. Two deputies responsible for courtroom security are also named as defendants in Brockler’s suit. Brockler maintains that the deputies should have handcuffed Chislton behind his back instead of in front of his body. (Cleveland.com)

Town justice resigns after allegedly keying car

A town court justice in Watson, New York, has resigned amid an ethics investigation into allegations that he “keyed” a town official’s vehicle. The justice, Gregory Burker, was accused of keying the vehicle after the town denied his request to provide health insurance. Burker pleaded guilty to criminal mischief in the fourth degree, a misdemeanor, for that offense Oct. 29. Burker has agreed to never seek judicial office again. (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct Feb. 4 press release, the Legal Profession Blog)

Ex-lawyer gets 15-year sentence for defrauding clients

A disbarred California lawyer was sentenced Thursday to 15 years in prison for stealing $4 million from clients, partly by collecting fees for work that was never performed. Prosecutors said the lawyer, 38-year-old Shant Ohanian, perpetuated the scheme by creating phony documents, making spoofed calls in which he claimed to be a bank or government official, and making out counterfeit checks purportedly from defendants sued. (Department of Justice Feb. 4 press release, the Associated Press, City News Service)