A United States District Judge taught a stern lesson in open court to a California lawyer who used extremely explicit language in an email to his opposing counsel during his settlement negotiations. Attorney Christopher Hook was ordered to show cause why he shouldn’t be sanctioned for fees and disqualified as a legal representative for his unsuitable behavior. The Judge told Hook that the legal profession did not need him and stated, “I am going to do what I can to remove you from this profession.” Hook’s opposing counsel submitted as Exhibit A to an Ex Parte Application for Relief an email thread of over 100 emails written by Hook. The content of some of these emails is NSFB (Not Sufficient for Blog), and are shocking. They can be reviewed in the attached ABA Journal article, linked here.
This should be an important lesson for both lawyers and non-lawyers. Always conduct yourselves in a professional manner because one never knows when their written communications may become public knowledge and “Exhibit A” in your own case. Whatever the goal may be in writing a potentially inappropriate communication may ultimately backfire and a negative result may occur.
Before sending an explicit communication, think twice. Get a second set of eyes and have someone else read it. And don’t send the communication while you are mad. Think about what your mother might say about the communication. Think about whether there is a better, more effective way to make your point. And finally, take a breath and a break and give yourself some time to think about the negative effect the communication may have. Your point that you want to make in the communication may be correct, but if it is expressed in the wrong way, you could become the bad guy.