How to Get Disbarred in Five Easy Steps

It’s actually pretty hard to get disbarred as a lawyer, as opposed to reprimanded or suspended, maybe harder than it should be. But with enough effort, it can be done, as shown in a 2010 case where the Kansas Supreme Court disbarred a lawyer after what it called repeated episodes “of rude, disruptive, and at times criminal, misconduct.”

According to the court’s findings (the lawyer disputed the facts), these incidents included:

 1. Yelling at a court clerk to tell a prosecutor “to get his ‘ass’ in the courtroom,” telling the clerk he was smarter than anyone in the clerk’s office, and telling all the clerks present that they were “f****** b******.”

 2. Getting in a physical altercation with a Deputy Marshal at the federal courthouse after he refused to obey commands to return to the security entrance after setting off the magnetometer, for which the lawyer was subsequently indicted and convicted.

 3. Repeatedly talking loudly and abusively to the judge in a Missouri case, saying, among other things: “that the proceeding was a ‘joke’ and a ‘travesty’”; accusing the judge of “apparent reckless, bias, [and] prejudice”; telling the judge that the “proceeding was a joke”; accusing the court of “corrupting and stinking up the case” and “corrupting the system”; accusing the court of “being anything but impartial, justiciable, and anything but incompetent”; wadding up a copy of a pleading filed by opposing counsel, throwing it to the floor, and grinding it into the floor with his shoe; and stating to the court that “you’re going to sit up there with the audacity and the smugness of your holiness.” For these acts, he was held in contempt of court.

4. Changing a previously agreed on fee agreement from a $3,500 flat fee to an hourly rate of $3,500.

5. Getting into an argument with a court bailiff in another case, as a result of which he was held in contempt of court. Among other conduct, he accused the court of being a “kangaroo court” and said that “all you guys in Grandview [Missouri] are all snakes, that’s all you all are.” The bailiff reported that during this fracas, the lawyer’s client was overheard saying “That’s my attorney and I don’t want to have anything to do with him.”

In re Romious, 240 P.3d 945, 947 (Kan. 2010). Thanks to Doug Cressler.

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Andrew Jay McClurg is a law professor whose teaching and research interests include tort law, products liability, legal education, privacy law and firearms policy. He holds the Herbert Herff Chair of Excellence in Law at the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law.
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