Update: Astoundingly Unethical Lawyer-Hypnotist In Prison, And Disbarred.


Fine on the way to prison, where he will be hypnotized and will spend his 12-year sentence thinking he's a chicken...

Fine on the way to prison, where he will be hypnotized and will spend his 12-year sentence thinking he’s a chicken…

I hadn’t followed the story of Michael Fine since I wrote about him in 2014. This was the Sheffield, Ohio lawyer who hypnotized female clients so he could sexually molest them. When I wrote the post, two victims had been identified. The final tally was six, and there may have been more.

In September of 2015, Fine pleaded guilty to five counts of kidnapping and one count of attempted kidnapping.  He admitted to using his skill in  hypnosis to control the female clients, forcing them submit his sexual desires against their conscious will. Last week, Fine was sentenced to 12 years in prison. He had already been permanently disbarred by the Ohio Bar. Fine was not a licensed hypnotist, but needless to say, he was an unethical hypnotist too.

Judge Patricia Cosgrove told Fine at his sentencing, “At the lowest point in their lives when they came to you for help in the throes of painful divorces and custody battles, you took advantage of them. You took advantage of their trust and faith in you by sexually abusing them. You deserve to be punished.”

Ya think?

When I mentioned this case in some 2015 legal ethics seminars, many lawyers refused to believe it. I even lost a law firm client because one lawyer complained that I showed insensitivity by making a mild joke about the story, which did and does remind me of something out of a bad Adam Sandler movie.  It is the strangest example of unethical lawyering I have encountered, but I am confident that a stranger one will appear eventually.


Pointer: Fred

Hypnotist Ethics Amuck: I’ll Take the Chicken, Thanks


[I’m on the road, and have a commentary on last night’s debate to file, but it’s hard doing it right in cabs and airports. This stupid tale, however, doesn’t take as much thought.]

Like the last post, this one begins in Minnesota. Something strange is going on up there. I didn’t write about this lawsuit  a year or so ago when it first came to my attention, but it is apparently still live. It is unbelievable, but also true.

PRIDE Institute Inc. of Eden Prairie is a non-profit agency that works with lesbian, gay and transgender clients, helping them deal with “mental health, substance abuse and sexual health” issues. As a special treat for its staff, the HR department hired a hypnotist as entertainment at a staff holiday party. The hypnotist, Freddie Justice, started his act  by telling the employees that he recognized it was a work event and that they didn’t have to worry about, for example, being hypnotized to “cluck like a chicken.”  His audience put at ease, Freddie entertained the group for nearly an hour and a half, hypnotizing volunteers and persuading them to do various silly things for the amusement of their colleagues.

Then the hypnotist asked the agency’s director of human resourcesor permission to conduct a final special demonstration.. With her permission, Justice selected three female volunteers, hypnotized them and told them they were going to experience an intense orgasm, like Meg Ryan’s fake version in “When Harry Met Sally.” All three did, spectacularly so, in front of their co-workers and the CEO of the agency. Continue reading

Now THIS is Sexual Harassment!

A Helpful Workplace Hint: If your boss suggests that you should let him hynotize you, RUN!!!!

In Pittsburgh, a woman has sued the nonprofit Pressley Ridge Foundation and its CEO for sexual assault, fraud and other charges, claiming former Foundation exec B. Scott Finnell forced her to submit to hypnosis as part of her duties as a Human Resources coordinator.  While she was under hypnosis, he stroked her breasts and “repeatedly brought her to orgasm.” She says that Finnell purported to treat her for “stress” with a “relaxation technique,” which was in fact hypnosis. The amateur Svengali insisted that the “relaxation sessions” (cough!) were because he was making a relaxation compact disk for the Pressley Ridge Wellness Program, and thus assisting in the sessions were appropriately part of her duties as a member of the Pressley Ridge Human Resources Department. Finnell also instructed her not to tell anyone about the ‘relaxation sessions.”

Yes, this should have been a warning sign. That, and the fact that her male boss wanted to hypnotize her.

The complaint states that the hypnosis sessions occurred regularly over the course of approximately a year, always behind closed doors in Finnell’s office, on what Finnell referred to as his “magic couch.”

Yes, this also should have been a warning sign. When your supervisor asks you to lie down on his “magic couch,” there is reason to be concerned. Continue reading