Thursday, May 17, 2012

"Yes Your Honor, I Scheduled a Deposition at a Donut Shop, Wore T-Shirts and Shorts, and Drew Pictures of Opposing Counsel as a Penis -- Is There a Problem?"

 What does "zealous advocacy" look like?

(See above illustration.)

I like to think this blog can have a salutary purpose on occasion, by shining light on what we do as lawyers, and sometimes encouraging us to live up to the highest ideals of our profession.

That, plus dick jokes.

Luckily, this order from Judge Altonaga disqualifying two attorneys and their firm Morgan & Morgan has all of the above, wrapped in a pretty penis-shaped bow:
Tinkler testified that during depositions he witnessed “Mr. Celler . . . drawing photos of — pictures of male genitalia and showing them to Ms. Schulman, describing Mr. Coupal. I told Mr. Coupal after that was occurring and he made mention about it.” (Apr. 2, 2012 Hearing Tr. 17:2–5). Sorci testified that he observed Schulman “laugh[ing] quite a few times” at Celler’s drawings, and that on break Schulman made a comment that “this is typical Richard [Celler], this is what he does at these sort of things.” (Id. 85:5–10). Tinkler further stated that “during Mr. Schatt’s deposition Mr. Celler was playing the game Angry Birds. He admitted it aloud and was bragging that he had just beaten somebody in Minnesota at the game during the deposition.” (Id. 17:6–9). Moreover, Celler would wear a t-shirt and shorts to proceedings to gain “a psychological advantage.” (Id. 17:11–15). Celler chose Dunkin’ Donuts as the site of depositions against Coupal’s wishes.
According to the order, plaintiff's counsel also wrote a few scorching emails to opposing in-house counsel:
The Court finds multiple instances in which Plaintiff’s counsel have violated this Rule. For example, the email exchange regarding the Tinkler communication contained such choice statements from Celler to Coupal as “you are not a trial lawyer;” “We are not interested, nor are our clients, in settlement discussions with you as long as you are the lawyer on the other side. You are causing your client a great disservice;” and “Nobody on this side of the internet cares.” (Jan. 30, 2012 Email Exchange). Celler himself acknowledges the utter lack of professionalism and impropriety of his emails to Coupal, expressing “remorse and disappointment” (Pl.’s Post-Hearing Br. 2 n.2), but chalks his behavior up to “zealousness on his client’s behalf” and “vigorous[]” advocacy. (Resp. 8–9). Needless to say, Celler’s emails are far beyond (and at the same time, far short of) what zealous advocacy would require.
Good point -- which side of the internet truly cares about this stuff?



24 comments:

Anonymous said...

SFL: Unable to open the site where the order is located. Could you please provide case #? Thanks.

South Florida Lawyers said...

Weird -- pulls up fine for me.

Here is case info:

CASE NO. 11-24432-CIV-ALTONAGA/Simonton

Anonymous said...

Truly, a catchy post title!!

Anonymous said...

The Dunkin Donuts on US 1 near Kendall Drive has a conference room available to the public.

Anonymous said...

my firm's web filter system is more restrictive than North Korea's. I'll get it off pacer. Thanks. 11:42.

Anonymous said...

He should have noticed it for Starbucks.

Anonymous said...

I like the little smiley-face cock. That made me happy.

Anonymous said...

Got picked up by Above The Law

http://abovethelaw.com/2012/05/things-that-might-get-you-thrown-off-a-case-drawing-dick-pics-during-depositions-at-dunkin-donuts/#more-159578

Anonymous said...

I'm imagining the law firm of Tinkler & Schatt.

Anonymous said...

You don't know Dick.

Rumpole said...

What's the rule that allows repos at Dunkin Donuts? The Marlins new stadium is around the corner. Can I set some depos at the Clevelander pool in left field? Beats the PDs office any day.

Anonymous said...

Wow, I used to work with Celler back in big law days. He always struck me as smart but always a bit of a rouge. Which in big law, meant he didn't last long b/c he wasn't one for following direction/rules, etc. I don't recall him every acting like an adult so the fact that he wears shorts and sneakers and plays video games during depos seems par for course.

He is probably doing very well with these FLSA cases. Since FLSA cases are like bizzaro world in that the burden is not on the plaintiff but on the employer.

Anonymous said...

Riptide covered it too.

video pool said...

great

Godwhacker said...

Opposing counsel should be flattered. It's not a small penis.

Anonymous said...

Morgan and Morgan: For the penis.

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