She’s been suspended.
For the third time.
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: