Now THAT’S An Unethical Lawyer!

"Ay, ye fekin' eejit, I'll be reefing ye with me shillelagh!"  TRANSLATION: "Disbar me, quick!"

“Ay, ye fekin’ eejit, I’ll be reefing ye with me shillelagh!” TRANSLATION: “Disbar me, quick!”

Yesterday I posted on Facebook a real news story about an Australian teen who plotted to plant explosives on a kangaroo and sent it hopping to a terrorism target. This story, about a Louisiana lawyer who is either trying to get disbarred (with apparent success) or has lost his mind struck me about the same way. Everything seems to spinning out of control.

The Louisiana Bar Disciplinary Board  has recommended permanent disbarment for lawyer Ashton O’Dwyer Jr. This passage of its report particularly appealed to me: During a June 2012 hearing by the committee, O’Dwyer “had to be admonished for brandishing about his shillelagh, his action clearly inappropriate for a disciplinary proceeding.”


That’s just a sample. Here’s a random selection of some examples of how this spunky Irishman has behaved,  from the “How To Get Disbarred” handbook.

O’Dwyer first ran afoul of the ethics rules  in federal court in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina litigation, when he engaged in personal attacks on the judge and opposing counsel, and engaged in other irregularities “prejudicial to the administration of justice.”  He was suspended by that court in 2008 for his  conduct. In response, he…

….filed a “Declaration of His Intentionally Contemptuous Non-Compliance with the Court’s Order”…

….called the Louisiana Supreme Court a “bunch of kids”…

…referred to the chief justice with a “sexual and offensive nickname,” according to hearing board’s findings of fact.

O’Dwyer then sent an email to the disciplinary counsel in which he implausibly denied the use of racially disparaging terms, which the bar found to be “disingenuous.” Then he sent another email the same day calling the disciplinary counsel a “pimp,” a “puppet,”  “Uncle Tom” and an “Oreo.”

Nothing racially disparaging about any of that, right? All of this got him disbarred for a minimum of two years.

In January 2010, the hearing board found, O’Dwyer sent an email to the federal bankruptcy court that read in part: “Maybe my creditors would benefit from my suicide but suppose I become ‘homicidal’?  The FBI arrested him the same day, but his indictment on a charge of threatening communications was dismissed.

Amusingly, the disciplinary hearing committee noted O’Dwyer had claimed that he was a changed man, but the committee was not persuaded of his sincerity.

“Time and time again,” it wrote, O’Dwyer “has returned to his old ways with claims of great conspiracies, kangaroo courts, scorched earth pleadings and reckless use of insulting terms and derogatory language. …The zeal with which he respected clients for more than 40 years in his practice has now morphed into an anger that impairs his ability to act rationally and professionally as an attorney…”

More kangaroos!

“Respondent may be compared to the child who is sorry he got caught but not sorry for the infraction,” the committee continued. “In conclusion, this committee finds that respondent’s actions show his egregious lack of respect for the authority of the federal courts, the Louisiana Supreme Court, and the disciplinary authorities of this state.”

Ya think?




12 thoughts on “Now THAT’S An Unethical Lawyer!

      • Hahahahaha. Well now, he does have that going for him, ain’t he? Where’s Steve O?

        I’m guessing some sort of late life paranoid schizophrenia, if there is such a thing. Of course, forty years of litigating, most likely as a solo, is hard time. Albert Finney could reprise his role as a car wreck lawyer from “Erin Brockovich” in the movie about Paddy O’Dwyer.

        Is the state bar ethically obligated to get this guy into some sort of psychiatric care? They’re pretty good with handling alcoholics. Come to think of it, I bet Squire Shillelagh has a fondness for a dram or two… or eight.

        • This guy’s not acting like this because he’s Irish. He’s acting like this because he’s a sociopath. I have had professional dealings with 2 similar individuals here.

          One was a serial pro se litigant and squatter who would rent houses or apartments, then trash them, claim they were unlivable, and sue the landlords, and also sue the city for imagined civil rights offenses at regular intervals. He regularly filed pleadings that ran to 300 numbered paragraphs and said the same things three and four ways per paragraph, to say nothing of heaping abuse on whoever was the target of the complaint. His usual tactic during hearings was to interrupt the other person repeatedly, but that did not work against me since I would simply speak over him louder and louder, until both of us got so loud the judge said the next person who talked out of turn was going to be thrown in a cell. That shut him up. It eventually reached the point that the Court simply denied everything he filed without granting oral argument, because the judge was tired of dealing with his repeated accusations of corruption, bias, etc. He was a step beyond narcissist, everything he said was right and everything everyone else said was wrong.

          The other was an attorney who was also pro se, who claimed all kinds of civil rights violations when the police caught him rampaging about with a rifle Thanksgiving morning after he claimed to be the victim of a home invasion and sent him to the hospital to be evaluated as a danger to self or others. He also filed papers that accused every singly person involved at every level of corruption, bias, etc. This is the same person who actually THREW A BRIEF AT ME in open court, prompting me to (way) overreact by turning to him and yelling that if he insulted me one more time or threw another thing at me I would fight him then and there. He also lost, at that level and at the appellate level. He may try for the NJSC, but when the trial court and the Appellate Division have both said no he is probably out of luck.

          Neither of these men has been declared legally insane, and I don’t think either of them is mentally ill, since mental illness can usually be treated. No amount of treatment or discipline will make either of them anything different. Most states will make every effort to save the careers of attorneys who run into mental health problems or substance abuse problems, but for them to help you you have to be willing to help them help you. The guy in the scenario above clearly isn’t interested in being helped.

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