A couple of years ago, at “Decade-ending and year-ending lists forgot the emblematical lawyers,” I blogged about the Tennessee lawyer who supposedly bit off the tip of a guy’s nose in a public restroom fight.
I never bothered to follow up after posting that story. After all, it was just one more angry lawyer outburst – – – not all that remarkable. Moreover, I was sufficiently gladdened the incident hadn’t implicated any literal manifestations of those biblically condigned offense-giving appendage amputations. Indeed, biblically speaking, given the setting of the mastication fracas, ‘if before a man had washed his hands, he put his hand to his eye, nose, mouth, or ear, it was to be “cut off,” especially if handling the “membrum virile.” 
Don’t be rude to the help but don’t pummel the clientele.
At least the hard-bitten guy with the pared proboscis wasn’t the lawyer’s ex-client like the former customer of the angry Minnesota Attorney who beat ex-client gets 6 years in prison. The lawyer was mad at the ex-client for calling the law office and being rude to the receptionist.
The altercation occurred during last year’s season of peace and goodwill to men when both lawyer Brian Pitera and ex-client Richard Wegleitner went out for beers. The practice tips that come to mind seem too obvious to mention, but foremost is that it’s bad for repeat business to pummel former clients.
Hell and fury.
And then there was the Matter of Olubunmi O. Okanlami, who was suspended October 6, 2011 by the Indiana Supreme Court because of her two felony convictions for unlawfully breaking into her supposedly unfaithful boyfriend’s apartment and battering the snot out of him last November. The Marion County, Indiana prosecutor said it was “a pretty bad battery” she inflicted on the beau and that “he had clumps of his hair and scalp torn from his head.”
Further related disciplinary action awaits the former labor and employment associate and ex-city attorney. She was also charged with assaulting a police officer after a jail corrections officer discovered a switch blade hidden in her bra when the metal detector went off.
So what is it about ’tis the season to be merry’? Hell hath no fury, regardless of season or gender. See “Cops: Attorney beat boyfriend, officer“ and “Indiana Lawyer Accused of Beating Her Boyfriend.”
Anger in Seattle.
And speaking of more hell and fury, there was “John C. Siegel, Seattle Attorney Accused of Threatening to Kill Muni Judge.”
Now there’s nothing funny about domestic violence. It is a tragedy and a problem that can impact people from any walk of life. Siegel plead guilty to misdemeanor counts of domestic violence involving his ex-wife and for harassing Judge Kimi Kondo. “In March, he told witnesses he would kill her after she raised his bail in the domestic-violence case. Prosecutors said he slugged his ex and harassed her with text messages that ranged from “I love you” to “Eat shit idiot.””
Besides the text messages, Siegel, who had earlier in the year spent two months in jail for his threats against the judge, faced subsequent allegations of arson for supposedly setting fire to his own home and for violating a protective order. Sentencing is set for December 9, 2011 in King County Superior Court. See “Seattle Lawyer Who Allegedly Threatened to Kill Judge to Get 20 Months in Subsequent Home-Arson Case.”
Finally, not to be outdone by angry lawyers elsewhere, in Maricopa County, Arizona, yuletide also brought a November 2011 fatal road rage altercation, which is still under investigation. It involved a criminal defense lawyer from Scottsdale and supposed road rage between motorists.
David Appleton was arrested November 11 after he called 911 to report that he had shot Paul Thomas Pearson in a drug store parking lot. County prosecutors dismissed a second-degree murder charge against Appleton pending “additional investigation by police.” Appleton’s lawyer, however, contends that the facts will support his client’s “justifiable use of force.” See “2nd-Degree Murder Charge Dropped Against Lawyer” and “Is Defense Attorney David Appleton a Murderer?”
Notwithstanding the supposed truth that lawyering engenders unprofessionalism let alone anger turning violence, as in the classical ‘chicken or the egg‘ dilemma, does the legal profession create angry people or do they already come that way?
Solutions? I have my doubts on whether so-called ‘anger management’ courses are as helpful as the courts and society hope. Indeed, in 2010, a Wall Street Journal article, “Demand for Anger -Management Grows. But Does It Work?” while noting that “A few state bar associations now require “civility” training for lawyers renewing their licenses,” questioned the efficacy of anger management programs, generally.
“It’s not clear if the programs work, as few studies have analyzed their effectiveness. There are no licensing requirements for anger-management trainers—anyone can open a business. And since participants don’t usually sign up voluntarily, trainers say it’s possible to complete a program without actually changing one’s behavior.”
And while most state bars have lawyer assistance programs meant to confidentially help lawyers in all kinds of distress from substance abuse to depression, e.g., MSBA.org Lawyer Assistance Program Department, I don’t know how many lawyers actually use such programs and confidentiality pledges notwithstanding, how comfortable they are calling their friendly state bar for help.
 See, for example, “Matthew 5:30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off“