On October 13, 2010, the ABA Journal featured a cautionary tale for all law students to take heed. A lawyer from Kansas City, Carlos Romious, was disbarred for “for charging a soldier a fee of $3,500 an hour, shouting profanities at court clerks, brawling with court security officers and suggesting that a judge is pedophile,” according to the ABA Journal article, the National Law Journal and the Legal Profession Blog. According to the National Law Journal, “Romious had originally agreed to represent the soldier for a flat $3,500 fee, but later claimed the amount was his hourly charge,” and in a different instance, according to the full-text of the Supreme Court the opinion (PDF), “the court says, Romious asked a judge whether he was a pedophile and said, ‘You’re going to sit up there with the audacity and the smugness of your holiness.’” In addition to Romious’ “abusive and bizarre behavior,” as cited by the court, the court points to Romious’ interactions with courtroom personnel, including security officers and clerks. Specifically, the court cited where “Romious brawled with security officers after he set off a magnetometer, he called a court clerk a ‘f—ing b—-,’ said he wanted to ‘ ‘f—ing’ file his papers, and declared that he was smarter than anyone in the clerk’s office.” As a result the court said Romious’ behavior had resulted in two criminal convictions, an active sentence in jail and a contempt citation. The court opinion outlines all of Romious’ behavior, including outrageous statements against opposing counsel, demands upon the prosecution, attempts to file incomplete or otherwise improper documents, failures to appear for hearings and court proceedings, and numerous other strange interactions.
Are you curious about the professional rules of conduct for your state? If so, most states publish the rules of professional conduct on the web (either the state bar website or a website designated for court rules and procedure) for easy searching ability. For example, based on the situation presented above, the hearing panel stated Romious violated “KRPC 1.1 (2009 Kan. Ct. R. Annot. 410) (competence); 1.5(a) (2009 Kan. Ct. R. Annot. 460) (fees); 3.4(c) (2009 Kan. Ct. R. Annot. 552) (fairness to opposing party and counsel); 3.5(d) (2009 Kan. Ct. R. Annot. 558) (engaging in undignified or discourteous conduct degrading to a tribunal); 4.4(a) (2009 Kan. Ct. R. Annot. 572) (respect for rights of third persons); 8.4(b) (2009 Kan. Ct. R. Annot. 602) (commission of a criminal act reflecting adversely on the lawyer’s honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer); 8.4(c) (engaging in conduct involving misrepresentation); 8.4(d) (engaging in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice); 8.4(g) (engaging in conduct adversely reflecting on lawyer’s fitness to practice law); and Kansas Supreme Court Rule 211(b) (2009 Kan. Ct. R. Annot. 321) (failure to file answer in disciplinary proceeding). If you’re looking for the ABA model rules or other ethics materials, check out the ABA/BNA Lawyer’s Manual on Professional Conduct, which provides access to practice guides, indexes, highlights, ethics opinions, and ethics rules. If you have a second, take a quick tour of the database!
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Refer to American Bar Association standards and ethics opinions in full text, materials on state ethics rules, and synopses of opinions by state and local bar associations.
Stay ahead with Current Reports on recent court decisions, ethics opinions, disciplinary actions, and other news
- Liz McCurry -