This one’s too obvious for cracking wise. Sort of like Res Ipsa, it speaks for itself.
Charna Johnson, a local Phoenix lawyer and former New Age boutique store owner-cum-Tarot card reader and spiritualist, faces a suspension of 6 months and a day for lying under oath during a state bar disciplinary investigation concerning an earlier unrelated matter. What makes it all so uniquely newsworthy are the revelations about Johnson’s supposed spiritualism sans séance.
Or at least that’s what’s got her in trouble. The June 28, 2010 Hearing Officer Report says Respondent Charna Johnson, “knowingly did not tell Bar Counsel or the previous Hearing Officer about her conduct that spanned a period of almost 3 years wherein she communicated the thoughts of a deceased person to a living person.”
In her testimony, Johnson objected to the characterizations about “channeling” the after-life, making the distinction that channelers are different. They get paid and can dial-up the dead on demand. She, on the other hand, is more limited and prefers the term “psychic mediumship.”
Experts did try to get to the bottom of it, albeit without much success. So in spite of or maybe because of the competing testimony of the two experts hired by each side, the Hearing Officer expressly wrote it wasn’t up to him to decide if the Respondent was or was not “possessed by” and “speaking for” her client’s deceased wife. “The experts hired by the State Bar and Respondent cannot even agree on what was really going on,” he wrote.
So rather than focus the disciplinary inquiry on whether Johnson channeled the dead, the Hearing Officer concerned himself with the Respondent’s purported dishonesty about it. Furthermore, in the Bar’s view, since there wasn’t injury to Johnson’s client, the Bar’s concern was placed instead on the injury to “the integrity of the disciplinary proceedings when the whole story is not fully examined.”
The factual summary follows:
“This case involves two alleged sets of factual violations tied together by subject matter but factually different. In the first phase, Respondent is alleged to have represented a client in a probate matter in the year 2000 involving the estate of the client’s deceased wife, while involved in a sexual/intimate relationship with the client, and also while Respondent claimed to be able to convey the thoughts of the deceased wife to the client. The contested issues are whether there was an inappropriate relationship, and whether the time frame of Respondent’s conduct and her representation of the client overlapped.
The second phase of this case occurred in the year 2008 when Respondent was involved in an unrelated disciplinary proceeding. At a hearing to consider a tendered agreement in that disciplinary matter, Respondent was specifically asked whether she had ever “channeled” the thoughts of a deceased person to a client. Respondent, under oath, denied ever having done so, and the State Bar alleges that this was false and the Respondent knew it to be false because of the evidence in Phase one.”
For more, see the ABA Journal report, 6-Month Suspension Urged for Lawyer Who Claimed to Channel Client’s Dead Wife.