In Re: Alexander Zeno, Nos.07-8017, 07-2065. After not doing anything for awhile, the First slowly stirs. This first case is a reciprocal disciplinary matter. The lawyer was punished (though not disbarred) by the District Court.
But, the underlying facts don’t seem too egregious. He seems to have bashed the prosecutors and judges in a motion. He accused them of laughing at his legal arguments. The District Court said he had a “chronic tendency” to use "belligerent and insulting prose in addressing members of this court," which amounted to a violation of Rule 3.5(d) of the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct.
The First pays some lip service to the notion that judges need to have thick skin, but says that even though nobody really knows where the line is, because he repeatedly crossed it, the District Court didn’t abuse his discretion in punishing him. While a lot of caselaw is cited, a lot of it seems off point. For example Gentile v. State Bar of Nevada, 501 U.S. 1030, 1071 (1991) is cited for the proposition that “during a judicial proceeding, whatever right to 'free speech' an attorney has is extremely circumscribed.” But Gentile dealt with prejudicial pretrial statements, the Atty. Gentile won, and nobody was able to show that anyone was prejudiced, anyway. Likewise in Standing Comm. on Discip. v. Yagman, 55 F.3d 1430, 1437 (9th Cir. 1995), which the First cites is another case where the lawyer wins.
The First redeems itself by noting that his CJA application was already denied, and therefore it isn’t going to suspend him from practice from the First.
This really strikes me as a gang-up on an attorney they don’t like. It seems really strange that the entire opinion essentially says “We don’t know where the line is, but he repeatedly crossed it.” Maybe someone can tell me why I am wrong.
It is worth noting that at the same time, at least one District Court invalidates Michigan’s “professionalism” rules which some judges seem to want to use against Atty. Fieger. See Legal Ethics Forum.