Indiana: “Lawyer charged with felony intimidation over message to client’s ex-husband”

by Walter Olson on May 28, 2014

Wait a minute. You took my profanity-laden, violence-suggestive tirade seriously? Attorney Hanson “said he had not meant to threaten the man, but simply convey that he would gather all relevant evidence to defend his client.” [ABA Journal]

{ 4 comments }

1 wfjag 05.28.14 at 11:32 am

“After I get [my client] out of jail I’m going to gather all the relevant evidence and them (sic, then) I’m going to anal rape you so hard your teeth come loose.”

There is a line between zealous advocacy and gross stupidity that this attorney failed to appreciate. (Also, spell check is no substitute for proof reading).

2 Curmudgeonly Ex-Clerk 05.28.14 at 12:58 pm

Serious state bar disciplinary action would be appropriate here. A suspension accompanied by mandatory anger-management counseling might be reasonable. But felony prosecution is only proof that more than one lawyer in this episode needs counseling. No reasonable person would read the admittedly inappropriate remarks here as bona fide threats.

The Indiana statute in question, Ind. Code 35-45-2, criminalizes threats intended to imtimidate, with “threats” defined as follows:
“‘Threat’ means an expression, by words or action, of an intention to:
(1) unlawfully injure the person threatened or another person, or damage property;
(2) unlawfully subject a person to physical confinement or restraint;
(3) commit a crime;
(4) unlawfully withhold official action, or cause such withholding;
(5) unlawfully withhold testimony or information with respect to another person’s legal claim or defense, except for a reasonable claim for witness fees or expenses;
(6) expose the person threatened to hatred, contempt, disgrace, or ridicule;
(7) falsely harm the credit or business reputation of the person threatened; or
(8) cause the evacuation of a dwelling, a building, another structure, or a vehicle.”

I am none to pleased with the offending lawyer’s conduct, but the over-criminalization of conduct seems like the more serious issue here.

3 Boblipton 05.28.14 at 1:40 pm

Sounds reasonable, Curmudgeonly. However, let’s subject the lawyers to the stricture of their laws. They made this bed. Let them lie on it.

Bob

4 James Hanson 06.03.14 at 9:43 am

Curmudgeonly,
I appreciate your perspective.
I agree that I should answer to the disciplinary committee, and I have that letter on my desk already.
I also agree that the use of the intimidation statute in this case is ridiculous overkill.
There is more to the story, of course. One tiny detail would include the fact that this man threatened to kill me just a few days before we settled their divorce matter amicably. I chose not to get law enforcement involved as I assumed he was just pushing my client’s buttons. My nasty message came almost a month later when he managed to nag the local prosecutor into pressing a domestic battery charge on my client for an incident that allegedly took place two months before. The message was intended to communicate that no one would be covering for him or lying for him as my client and their daughter had done multiple times in the past to keep him out of trouble for the physical abuse he had been meting out for years.
My language was inappropriate and unprofessional. I will own that. My actions did not, however, rise to the level of a felony.
Boblipton, I would have the same opinion about this issue if it applied to a non-attorney. I, as an attorney and as a Libertarian, am seriously concerned about the proliferation of criminal laws in this country.

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