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Tuesday, May 12, 2015

HOW FAR SOME WILL GO, WILL ONLY AMAZE AND DISGUST YOU!

It never ceases to amaze me the lengths some lawyers will go to gain any kind of advantage in a trial, no matter what the ethical implications may be.  Take for instance the actions of Stephen Diaco, his partner Robert D. Adams and one of their associates Adam Fithaut, all on trial (being live streamed on ABC Action Newsin Tampa) together before a bar referee as this is being written.

Diaco and Adams were representing the defendant in the trial of  the infamous "Shock Jock Case" (one shock jock suing the other for defamation) in Tampa.  The lawyer representing the plaintiff was Phil Campbell, who's office was in the same building as Diaco and Adams, PA, and was well known as one who imbibes frequently, if not daily.  Mr. Campbell, actually lived directly across the street from his favorite watering hole.

Diaco and Adams were not doing particularly well in the trial.  It was conceded at the time that Campbell was kicking them around the courtroom.  Diaco hatched a plan with Adams' knowledge and consent, to have Adams' paralegal, a very attractive, married women, go to Campbell's favorite bar, cozy up to him, and when it was time to go, claim she was too drunk to drive home and ask him to place her car in his community's parking lot for her.

Diaco had a friend on the Tampa Police Department, who was made aware of the plan and when Campbell took control of the young lady's car, was to arrest him and charge him with DUI, which the officer did.  This arrest was immediately tweeted to all news media, and the trial was disrupted for a time while Campbell dealt with the immediate aftermath of the arrest.  Eventually the plan unraveled, and it became public what Diaco and Adams had done.

(Oh did I mention that when the paralegal got home, and drunkenly made a phone call to tell a girlfriend what she had done, her (now ex) husband overheard the conversation, and was so incensed at her conduct he videoed the call with his cell phone.)

After an investigation the Bar filed charges.  (StephenAdams, Fithaut)  A plea agreement was reached for Diaco to be disbarred with leave to re-apply, and the other two to be suspended for 90 days.  The referee rejected the plea agreement, signalling to Diaco that permanent disbarment was on its way, and at least 91 day suspensions for the others.  

At 8:30 the morning the trial was to start (Monday) Diaco petitioned the Florida Supreme Court to surrender his license to practice with leave to apply for re-admission after five years.  This was done with the intent of delaying the trial pending his petition, which did not happen.

Throughout the entire pre-trial procedure (including depositions), all the defendants, as well as the paralegal asserted their 5th Amendment right to remain silent.  Adams then waived his rights and testified at the trial attempting minimize his involvement in way that a good prosecutor will argue conscious denial or fabrication.  The police officer has admitted to his complicity in the scheme, been dismissed from TPD and has testified to the conspiracy.

These guys exhibit what is truly wrong with our profession (if you can call it that anymore).  Is it ego?  Is it money?  Is it getting so caught up in our client's vitriol that we lose sight of who and what we are?  When did attacking the other lawyer become part of a relevant trial strategy?  Is winning one case worth a lifetime of cases, not to mention the years of work put in to get you here?  This may be extreme, but is it not so uncommon, that it is common-place?  Have we seen it, or been the victim of personal attacks, and only responded in kind?  Do we justify our behavior as somehow taking the high ground?  When did we lose sight of the adage: At the end of a case our best friend is the lawyer on the other side and our worst enemy can be our client?

We will let you know how it all ends.  (Like it is in any "reasonable" doubt.)

36 comments:

Anonymous said...

Tough being a federal judge...a former chief judge of our district has been dining at very fine restaurants at lunch. He was reportedly seen at Abrachi on Thursday May 7th, and at Joes on Friday May 8th.

Anonymous said...

Civil lawyers.

Anonymous said...

Child's play compared to how Bernie roman shit all over the legal system, and Gunster and angel cortinas with hand out for filthy lucre ran with the same knowingly false accusations.

Angel cortinas sullied the reputation of the third dca and made it look like a court that is for sale.

Anonymous said...

An adversarial system can turn [seemingly] normal people into idiots.

Former athletes make good trial lawyers since they are used to not taking getting a pounding so seriously.

More females than males tend to get too emotional because they have a hard time separating the case from outside of the court room.

Nerds, dweebs and mutants are usually the ones most prone to going wacko in an adversarial arena.

Paul Petruzzi said...

Sickening.

comment said...

Great story, but where’s the ethics problem?

Adversarial system? Check.

Litigation privilege? Check.

Florida lawyers are protected from liability by the litigation privilege, which extends to all causes of action, including both common-law torts and statutory causes of action. Levin, Middlebrooks, Mabie, Thomas, Mayes & Mitchell, P.A. v. US. Fire Ins. Co., 639 So. 2d 606, 608 (Fla. 1994) (holding that any act occurring during the course of a judicial proceeding enjoys "absolute immunity"); see also Echevarria, McCalla, Raymer, Barrett & Frappier v. Cole, 950 So. 2d 380, 384 (Fla. 2007) (holding that the litigation privilege extends to all causes of action, including statutory causes of action).

Q: "These guys exhibit what is truly wrong with our profession (if you can call it that anymore). Is it ego? Is it money?"

A: The Legal Field Attracts Psychopaths, Author Says; Not That There Is Anything Wrong with That

http://www.abajournal.com/news/article/the_legal_field_attracts_psychopaths_author_says_not_that_there_is_anything/

"Deep inside me there’s a serial killer lurking somewhere," the lawyer says. "But I keep him amused with cocaine, Formula One, booty calls, and coruscating cross-examination."

A: Law prof confesses: I am a sociopath

http://www.abajournal.com/news/article/law_prof_confesses_i_am_a_sociopath/

"My sociopathic traits make me a particularly excellent trial lawyer," Thomas writes. "I’m cool under pressure. I feel no guilt or compunction, which is handy in such a dirty business. Misdemeanor prosecutors almost always have to walk into a trial with cases they’ve never worked on before. All you can do is bluff and hope that you’ll be able to scramble through it. The thing with sociopaths is that we are largely unaffected by fear. Besides, the nature of the crime is of no moral concern to me; I am interested only in winning the legal game."

Anonymous said...

Actually, Disco and Adams did well in the trial; that was obvious to most in observance. What isn't obvious is why sharp legal minds would risk the hard earned privilege to practice law over such a harebrained plot. So of course, the scapegoat is an immature paralegal with a history of drinking and driving and driving without a license. I can hardly wait to see what the FBI's uncovered; sow the wind, reap the whirlwind.

Anonymous said...

Classic honey trap invented by the Soviets circa 1950's. I would have seen this coming a mile away - got the broad drunk and then taken her confession.

Anonymous said...

I think it's pretty funny.....where it crosses the line is with the crooked cop....but getting opposing counsel drunk as a skunk night before trial is fair game.

The Professor said...

Some of these comments are disturbing. It almost proves my point. The idea that anyone would condone such conduct as reasonable, justifiable, ethical or in any other way appropriate is hugely disappointing.

Anonymous said...

On another topic; which cell phone provider Verizon, AT&T, Sprint or another has the best reception in the Justice Building? I have T-Mobile and the reception is horrible. Looking to change.

Anonymous said...

In the long distant past, PD's in major crimes would take Fred Graves, a SAO prosecutor to the old Holiday Inn which use to be across from the new Winn Dixie and have more than a few with him and tell him the case set for trial the next day would be plead out, only to announce ready for trial the next day.Obliviously that threw old Fred off his game, and it worked with alot of NGs.....

Juniper said...

@9:15. I must respectfully disagree with your opinion regarding women and their emotions and assert you are a back alley slop swinger. As for the content of the article - no bar background check can discern an applicant's character.

Anonymous said...

Att decent in the building. Still a few dead zones

Anonymous said...

I remember one time when I was a pd, there was this tight ass asa (who had a tight ass). Anyhow, I ended up at the same bar and started talking. Went home with asa and ended up doing it and doing it and doing it well.

Well, tight ass lossened up and we ended up having a great working relationship.

Now, is that wrong?

Anonymous said...

Does anyone remember rumpoole tell us to sell into a rising market. He basically predicted a stock market crash many moons ago. I had hoped he was correct because I'm sitting on millions of cash that I don't have a good plan for. Rumpole, what is your latest market prediction.

Anonymous said...

Hey "Comment" @ 1:12 a.m.

To the extent its necessary to point this out - your interpretation of the "Litigation Privilege" is incorrect....


Better stick to filling out forms.

Anonymous said...

In the game of courts, you win or you die.

Anonymous said...

So there's a BOLO for a hispanic female, mid-30s, likes electronic dance music, with a "bad stomach," sometimes seen wearing a black robe in the Richard E. Gerstein Justice Building when she decides to show up for work.

If seen, please call the Florida Bar and JQC.

Fake Veronica Diaz said...

I'm killer at Marco Polo.

Anonymous said...

need top labor law attorney in south florida for high profile national case.

Anonymous said...

http://bigstory.ap.org/article/92ae3f2b484744bfb232e34b466e1d00/prosecutors-drop-firearms-charge-against-buju-banton

Anonymous said...

Veronica Diaz skipped work today. Bailiff was outside sweating bullets trying to get her on the phone. JA was also running around trying to contact her. Judge Sayfie covered her calendar an hour and a half late.

Anonymous said...

Two strikes against Judge VD.

Anonymous said...

i guess Diaz is trying to prove all her detractors right?

Anonymous said...

Att is good

The Professor said...

Until we know the nature of Judge Diaz's difficulties it is a little unfair to condemn her. If in fact they are personal, and not necessarily substance related, then let's give her a little slack.

With that said, Judge Soto has to involve herself, where she is most reluctant. If Judge Diaz needs a leave of absence then the Chief should, even if Judge Diaz resists, place her on paid leave. This situation is causing damage to the system and Judge Diaz, and it is something which must be resolved.

Claude Erskine Browne said...

The Thrill is Gone
It's Gone Away.
B. B King has passed

Anonymous said...

"Professor",

You have absolutely no clue as to what you're talking about. I love how the know-it-all's on this blog always accuse someone else (lawyer or judge) of action or inaction to which they have absolutely no privy.

The judges are aware of and are involved in the VD issue. While you're busy being so preachy about giving people slack, how about giving the chief and the admin judge the benefit of the doubt?

Anonymous said...

Professor - it doesn't matter. She simply didn't show up to work and didn't call in. She wasn't accessible. In any other profession if you pulled that you would be fired or suspended.

She handles peoples lives. Their entire family is effected by her decisions. Being a judge anywhere is a difficult job, but the appellate courts can fix wrongs when money is at stake. Here, her wrongs and transgressions cannot be totally repaired just by an appellate court.

The Professor said...

It is interesting that I write a comment that says that inquiry from the chief judge is appropriate under the circumstances, and I am accused of not giving the chief or administrative judge a break because they are aware of the problem. Yet there is no evidence that they are. (Except what 9:49 says.) If they are, then they should say so. Especially in light of the comment of 9:50 that says it does not matter what the problem is, she should be fired or disciplined.

All I am saying is that there appears to be some sort of problem, and that it should be handled by the chief, and she should acknowledge that. It is an appearance and confidence issue.

EX Black Jack Dealer said...

With respect to Judge VD all of us who practice in the justice building ask juries presiding over our cases to withhold judgment until they have heard all the facts. We haven't heard enough facts to make a judgment. So why all the hate and rush to judgment?

Most of us hold Judge Soto in high esteem and believe she will act accordingly with respect to this issue. Give her a chance to take any any steps, if necessary, to deal with this situation.

As For Judge VD my experience with her is limited but she seems like a nice person and hopefully everything will work out for her.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, but we also know that the whole withhold judgment thing is Bullshit.

Anonymous said...

Agreed. AT&T even gets service on the third floor in Millan's courtroom which is great because you're sure to be there for two hours.

comment said...

When does the real blog owner return, the one who does not censor like a fragile dictator?

The Professor censored two legitimate rebuttals I left.

The Professor said...

Sorry comment,

I have no ability to censor anyone. I do not review comments. That is all done by Rumpole and The Captain. But, your apology for calling me a "fragile dictator" is accepted.