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…”
“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.”