The West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals Oct. 25 took away the license of a lawyer who beat a client with a wooden baseball bat on his front porch, chased him down the street until he fell, and resumed the beating as the client lay defenseless on the ground (Lawyer Disciplinary Bd. v. Robinson, W. Va., No. 35549, 10/25/12).
In rejecting the lawyer's request for a suspension rather than disbarment, the court emphasized a separate incident in which the lawyer used a propane tank to break his wife's car window as she was trying to drive away from their home. The lawyer must complete an extensive course in anger management before seeking reinstatement, it directed.
According to the court, the lawyer, Joshua M. Robinson, “beat a client, David L. Gump, with a wooden baseball bat on his front porch and then chased his defenseless client with this weapon down a residential street until he fell to the ground. When Mr. Gump fell down, Mr. Robinson began beating him again with the baseball bat in the head, chest, and back.”
Gump suffered significant injuries in the incident. Robinson initially lied to the police and prosecutors, but ultimately pleaded guilty to a felony charge of unlawful wounding, according to the court.
Robinson contended that Gump was a drug addict who showed up at his house to demand money for drugs and broke the window panes on his door. He said he grabbed the baseball bat to defend himself and to push Gump out of his house.
The hearing panel didn't buy the lawyer's story. It found that Robinson violated Kentucky Rules of Professional Conduct 8.4(b) (criminal act reflecting adversely on lawyer's fitness) and 8.4(c) (conduct involving dishonesty).
In a per curiam opinion, the court upheld those findings, emphasizing that the panel “listened to hours of testimony and reviewed voluminous documents that clearly established Mr. Robinson's culpability in this crime.”
The court found it obvious that Robinson intentionally violated his duties to his client, the public, the legal system, and the legal profession.
“Mr. Gump was seriously injured when Mr. Robinson repeatedly beat him with a wooden baseball bat and then continued to beat him as he lay defenseless on the ground,” the court said. “His conduct brought physical injury to his client and also injured the public by lessening people's faith and confidence in the legal profession.”
The court spurned Robinson's argument that his lack of a prior disciplinary record should be considered as a mitigating factor. While the hearing panel was evaluating what sanction to recommend, Robinson was also facing disciplinary charges in Kentucky, the court pointed out.
Those charges resulted from Robinson's guilty pleas to two counts of “wanton endangerment” growing out of a violent altercation in which Robinson allegedly threw a propane tank through the windshield of his wife's vehicle as she was attempting to exit the driveway of their home with a child. A witness told the police that Robinson threw the tank at the vehicle several times until the rear window finally broke, the court noted.
As an aggravating factor, the hearing panel found that Robinson's assault on Gump continued a long history of criminal behavior that began in 1995, before Robinson's admission to the West Virginia bar, when he was convicted of assault and public drunkenness.
The hearing panel also found several other aggravating factors: lack of remorse; lack of full disclosure; conversion of settlement funds belonging to Gump's grandfather; and a pattern of failing to follow court orders.
The court agreed with the disciplinary board that Robinson's license should be annulled in light of his criminal offense and his failure to take responsibility for his actions or even recognize their magnitude.
Before Robinson petitions for reinstatement, the court directed, he must undergo a comprehensive examination by a psychiatrist, comply with any recommended treatment, and complete an extensive course in anger management. After reinstatement his practice must be supervised for two years, the court added.
The Office of Disciplinary Counsel was represented by Chief Lawyer Disciplinary Counsel Rachael L. Fletcher Cipolleti, Charleston, W. Va. Sherri D. Goodman, Charleston, represented Robinson.
Full text at http://op.bna.com/mopc.nsf/r?Open=kswn-8znlbs.
Copyright 2012, the American Bar Association and The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
All Bloomberg BNA treatises are available on standing order, which ensures you will always receive the most current edition of the book or supplement of the title you have ordered from Bloomberg BNA’s book division. As soon as a new supplement or edition is published (usually annually) for a title you’ve previously purchased and requested to be placed on standing order, we’ll ship it to you to review for 30 days without any obligation. During this period, you can either (a) honor the invoice and receive a 5% discount (in addition to any other discounts you may qualify for) off the then-current price of the update, plus shipping and handling or (b) return the book(s), in which case, your invoice will be cancelled upon receipt of the book(s). Call us for a prepaid UPS label for your return. It’s as simple and easy as that. Most importantly, standing orders mean you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you’re relying on. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.960.1220 or by sending an email to email@example.com.
Put me on standing order at a 5% discount off list price of all future updates, in addition to any other discounts I may quality for. (Returnable within 30 days.)
Notify me when updates are available (No standing order will be created).
This Bloomberg BNA report is available on standing order, which ensures you will all receive the latest edition. This report is updated annually and we will send you the latest edition once it has been published. By signing up for standing order you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you need. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.372.1033, option 5, or by sending us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Put me on standing order
Notify me when new releases are available (no standing order will be created)