Remember California Attorney Mary Frances Prevost, Who Plagiarized Ethics Alarms? Guess What!

Yup, I saw THIS coming...

Yup, I saw THIS coming…

She’s been suspended.

For the third time.

Good.

To recap…Back in 2012, Mary Frances, who  describes herself on her website as “California’s Top Criminal & DUI Attorney,” posted an essay allegedly authored by her called  “The Trayvon Martin Case Trainwreck: George Zimmerman’s Attorneys Need To Shut Up!”

Oddly, it was posted the same day and shortly after my Ethics Alarms post, “Next To Board The Trayvon Martin Ethics Train Wreck? Why, The Lawyers, Of Course!”

Mary Frances’s was almost word for word the same post, plus some original material at the end. She had ripped me off. She hadn’t even tried to disguise it. This is called stealing, and I believe, shows that an individual lacks the honesty and trustworthiness to practice law.

I took three deep breaths, wrote a post about her plagiarism, e-mailed Prevost and required four things. First, an explanation if she had one; then an apology, a retraction, and proper credit. I didn’t demand damages, as I could have.

Mary Frances’s response was astounding. She didn’t have the courtesy to respond to my e-mail, but went on Facebook to accuse me of plagiarizing her, a neat trick, since my post pre-dated hers. Then she insulted me repeatedly, apparently unaware of how hypocritical it is to claim another lawyer is lacking in legal analysis skills and writing ability when you just published his essay as your own. I posted her whole rant here; it is deranged, making it especially funny that she accused me of being “off my meds.”

The Facebook post was defamation per se: malicious, and deliberately false. I contacted a California attorney, who agreed it was defamation, but said that based on her reputation, he felt it would  not be worth the money, the trouble or all the attacks she was capable of to go to war with her. He also dissuaded me from filing an ethics complaint, saying that unlike some states, California frowns on ethics complaints when there are grounds for lawsuits, and also tends to discount complaints from non-California lawyers.

“Just wait,” he said. “She’ll get hers. Lawyers like this almost always do.”

I certainly agreed with that; after all, a lawyer deliberately plagiarizing a blog is signature significance. It is something ethical lawyers simply don’t do, ever, and  Prevost’s Facebook post is signature significance squared. It’s amusing—and telling— that Prevost’s earlier suspensions were for not taking the mandatory legal ethics exam. This latest bar discipline sounds more serious, and pretty much what I would expect based on my brief but unpleasant encounter:

Bar investigators and judges are looking into what they consider misbehavior.She has been accused of not returning unearned funds to clients, misappropriating client funds, not cooperating with Bar investigations, and other transgressions. The review department of the state Bar, acting on appeals, has charged her with “multiple acts of misconduct,” sending threatening emails to clients who filed complaints, giving testimony that “lacks credibility,” giving testimony that was “evasive, self-contradictory, and at times sarcastic,” being “grossly negligent, even reckless,” and, generally mistreating clients and state Bar officials.

Yup. That’s our Mary Frances!

23 Comments

Filed under Character, Etiquette and manners, Law & Law Enforcement, Professions, The Internet

23 responses to “Remember California Attorney Mary Frances Prevost, Who Plagiarized Ethics Alarms? Guess What!

  1. “not returning unearned funds to clients” – How does THAT work?

    • I mean: I am confused by the term “unearned funds.” HOW does an attorney obtain “unearned funds?” Jack, I could let my imagination go into a parallel universe and keep me there, but I honestly do not comprehend how an attorney obtains “unearned funds.”

      Wait: Would that include “contingency fees,” paid in advance?
      If so, NEVER MIND.

      • Here’s what it means: If a lawyer asks for a retainer advance, before any work is done, that’s “unearned funds.” Non-refundable retainers are considered unethical in most jurisdictions. A fee must be reasonable, and so an advance payment that the lawyer doesn’t work enough to justify must be returned in all in part.

        • Got it – many thanks! Despite how much I have hung around (and even worked for) attorneys through the past…I don’t want to say how many years, the thought of a retainer advance was not even in my head. Jack, you have gifted me most kindly and edifyingly beyond measure, with that little bit of help but moreover, with all you communicate through Ethics Alarms throughout the year (for many years now). Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, from my whole Lucky family to you and yours!

          • luckyesteeyoreman

            Obviously though, I have not worked with attorneys enough to know much about the office business aspects of their practices. All I could think to myself about that was a line from Jurassic Park: “Clever girls!”

          • I can easily conceive of a retainer advance, but not a situation where any of it would be left over.

            • Eternal Optometrist

              It happens all the time. A criminal defense attorney gets a $10,000.00 retainer. He makes two phone calls to the prosecutor and they reach a plea (or a civil lawyer makes two phone calls to the insurance company and reaches a settlement). Not even the most creative lawyer in the world can turn 2 phone calls into $10,000. Although $10,000 is a reasonable retainer if you’re going to defend someone accused of a major felony.

  2. It’s interesting having seen pictures of attorneys for years be a headshot with a smile and a claim to intelligence and pedigree. Then head to her homepage which full body shots of her in stylish skimpy clothing in a variety of positions. Perhaps she was trying to become the next on-air “expert” at a national news network.

  3. Neil Dorr

    Jack,

    So WEIRD. Back in 2012, I was so incensed when I read the original post that I wrote her a letter (with stamps and everything) to point out the blatant plagiarism; however, it fell between my desk and the wall and never got mailed. Anyways, I was cleaning this week and rediscovered it and, since it was already stamped and addressed, mailed it.

    I guess it’s moot now, but what a coincidence the two would happen so close to one another. That said, because it massages my ego to think so: I take credit for the whole thing.

    -Neil

    • Apparently, she tried to slice and dice her ex-boyfriend’s Fiance in 1986. I hope you didn’t give her a return address.

      • Neil Dorr

        I did, actually. Here’s hoping she doesn’t hold a grudge. She also, apparently, has had several other charges of plagiarism from other blogs as well. What a maroon.

        -Neil

    • Captain Obvious

      The spat with JoAnne (who is a delight) was hilarious. And only brought wider attention to the fact that she stabbed a chick who was engaged to her ex.

      Many of us wondered if that incident was properly listed when she filled out her Character and Fitness paperwork for the Cali Bar. We suspected it was not, but had no way (to my knowledge) of bringing the matter to the attention of the state bar.

      • crella

        I’d never heard of her (Prevost) till I read of her here, so I was quite taken aback by what I’ve read today, on top of her prior history. I’m glad Ms. Musick was able to laugh about it!

  4. Sharon

    The California attorney gave you good advice. It’s not that you have to pick your battles but sometimes one just has to wait it out for the other person to do themselves in.

  5. Happysheisgettinghers

    I am so happy to see every dog has their day. I had retained her years back and it was a nightmare. A true incompetent sociopath. I can go on and on about the details, but she isn’t worth the time. She hasn’t changed since her days as the crazy stalker stabbed. I wouldn’t put anything past this sicko.

  6. Happysheisgettinghers

    Too funny. She had it coming. Total sociopath

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