The Grievance Project

For nearly two years, I have been watching intently the consistent and continuous dismantling of the Constitution by the President. Through December of 2006, the Congressional Republicans enabled the President both actively by passing legislation and passively by failing to fulfill their Constitutional oversight responsibilities.

When control of both houses of Congress was unexpectedly transferred to the Democratic Party in the 2006 midterm elections, I was cautiously optimistic that there might be some change in the operation of the federal government. Instead, the Bush Administration continue to daily violate the Constitution, Congressional Republicans remain more loyal to their party than to their country and Congressional Democrats have failed to exercise the full powers provided to Congress by the Constitution.

Accordingly, it quickly became clear that the Congressional Democrats would be unable to enact any legislation or stop the occupation of Iraq until 11/18 – not November 18, but until the eleven Republican Senators needed to stop their party’s unprecedented use of filibuster and the eighteen Republican Senators needed to override a veto of that legislation crossed the aisle. It’s simple arithmetic that leaves Congressional Democrats with two – and only two – effective powers: stalemate and subpoena.

For whatever reason, Congressional Democrats have been timid – too timid, in my opinion – in their use of these weapons. Although Congressional Democrats have undertaken an oversight role by issuing subpoenas and holding hearings, each new revelation of incompetence and wrongdoing only leaves me thinking ‘Well, that’s finally enough.’ But it never is.

Congressional Democrats have also failed to recognize the power of stalemate. They apparently don’t believe – as I do – that repeatedly drawing lines in the sand will not defend the Constitution from this Administration and its Republican enablers in Congress. The mere fact that they are making any legislative concession on core American issues such as the use of our military for an occupation of Iraq and the protection of our civil rights is inexcusable.

I fear that the Congressional Democrats, even if they begin to move more aggressively, have run out of time to restore our rights.

While watching this agonizingly slow progress, I have long felt powerless. Although there have fleeting moments of hope, such as the sporadic shows of force by Congressional Democrats, the occasional aisle-crossing Republican or the inexorable turning of the tide of public opinion, they have been effectively neutralized by the continued upward creep of both the number of deaths in Iraq and the number of days in Keith Olbermann’s post-Mission-Accomplished-declaration count. Throughout all this, I have noticed a significant number of attorneys in both the legislative and executive branches of our federal government participating in these various scandals and, as a result, committing what I believe to be breaches of their respective codes of professional conduct.

In his speech to the Virginia House of Burgesses on March 23, 1775, Patrick Henry urged military action against the encroaching British military force. He ended his plea with his most famous words:

Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!

But that was before the Constitution and death was a realistic possibility for Henry for just having spoken those words. As an American citizen, I shouldn’t have to worry about death or other retribution for exercising my right to free speech. However, after having seen how willing this administration is to destroy anyone perceived as a threat, including their own, I am undertaking the Grievance Project anonymously in the vein of Thomas_Paine who anonymously published Common Sense, his first pro-independence pamphlet, on January 10, 1776. In The American Crisis, a collection of pamphlets supporting the Revolution, Paine later penned the famous lines:

These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.

Trying times have indeed returned for those who demand liberty and reject tyranny. While reflecting on these ‘trying times’ over the past months, an idea took root in my mind that has morphed into the Grievance Project in which I will provide information on various attorneys in the service of our federal government who are committing professional ethics violations, links to resources documenting those ethical violations, and links to the information necessary for any citizen-activist to file a grievance against those attorneys.

Each post on an individual attorney will include links to that attorney’s state bar(s) of admission, pertinent grievance information, grievance applications, on-line state bar member’s directory and the applicable rules of professional conduct. I also provide a statement of allegations of alleged ethical violations with links to resources in the public domain that support the allegations and the text to the relevant rules of professionals of professional conduct. With minimal cutting and pasting, it should be a simple process to prepare and submit a grievance. Additionally, I have compiled the links to each state’s, including Washington, D.C.’s, grievance procedures, rules, complaints and member directory that will permit you to file a grievance against any attorney who has committed ethical violations and for whom I have not prepared an individual post.

Please e-mail a copy of any grievances filed, especially if I have not specifically addressed that attorney. Please do not send me a copy of the grievance if it would violate any confidentiality requirements or other restrictions on disclosure.


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14 Responses

  1. […] The Grievance Project […]

  2. hey, em!
    i was just thinking (uhoh!). is it possible to file grievances against all the attorneys now serving in the senate and the house who refuse to report law-breaking by the administration? i am not a lawyer, so i don’t know if attorneys have a legal or ethical obligation to report a crime. if they do, does being in congress give them a pass on that? it would be cool to have citizens filing grievances to their state bar associations against all the morons in washington who watch chimpy & co. break the law every single day and do nothing to stop it.

  3. A good question, but not an easy answer. Each bar association has its own rules that determine when one attorney becomes actually obligated to report another attorney where the failure itself of the second attorney to report the first attorney becomes a violation of the second attorney’s ethical obligations. Generally, this would require something more than mere suspicion.

    For example, I make the allegation in my Miers post that she is obligated to report the misconduct of Alberto Gonzales. In that case, the Rule 8.03 of the Texas Rules of Professional Conduct states, in part, that

    (a) Except as permitted in paragraphs (c) or (d), a lawyer having knowledge that another lawyer has committed a violation of applicable rules of professional conduct that raises a substantial question as to that lawyers honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer in other respects, shall inform the appropriate disciplinary authority.

    And the Texas Rules provide that

    Knowingly, Known, or Knows denotes actual knowledge of the fact in question. A persons knowledge may be inferred from circumstances.

    Ultimately, it is very difficult to show that someone has “actual knowledge” of something that would trigger the affirmative requirement to report another attorney.

    But just because the second attorney is not obligated to report the offending attorney, this does not mean that the second attorney is prevented from reporting the offending attorney. In that case, whether to report or not would be at the discretion of the second attorney.

  4. thanks, em!
    i can always count on you for a thorough answer to my questions.

  5. My pleasure, Nonnie, but remember that you get the legal advice that you pay for.

    FYI, on an unrelated note, I got some strange icons yesterday at Hysterical Raisins (the link is in my blogroll) in place of your posters that said something about exceeding your limit.

  6. well, i have certainly gotten my money’s worth! :wink:
    i exceeded my bandwidth (whatever that means!) at photobucket, so all of my images were sort of put on hold. i upgraded to a pro account, so all is well now.

  7. by the way, i just put tgp on my rss feed (whatever that means!). i kept having to google to find you, because it is easier that looking through the billion things i have bookmarked. now tgp is right there at the top of my screen!

  8. Glad all is well, Non.

    I just mentioned this week that I needed to find out what an rss feed is and how it works.

    Most of my bookmarks are labeled and sorted by certain attorneys’ last names, like Bloch, Canary, Elston, Haynes, Hillman, Lampton, Lott, Lourie and many more.

  9. You are the man I have been looking for. I do a radio show on legal reform and am working on a project to I would like your input on. I am designing, what I call, a litigation engine. It consists of a website where a pro se or attorney or anyone can go on line, fill out a questionnaire, and the site will produce legal documents to address the legal issues involved.

    The reason I want to talk to you is that I am putting together a website where people can go to, fill out a questionnaire and the site will prepare a bar grievance for them that they can download. Just one thing, my site will keep a copy. Since the grievance has not been filed yet, it is not yet secret, and when the aggrieved person files, the statutory requirements of secrecy do not come back to me.

    If you enter the attorney;s name, you will get a hit directly on the grievance as his name will be in the header.

    I already have people all over the country filing grievances and they are getting great results.

    I would like to talk to you and get you on our show. We are broadcast all over the country and if we can get more people filing, we can get attorneys in a position to where they are compelled to follow their rules of ethics.

    If you are interested, contact me, Randall Kelton, at Rule of Law Radio, You can google me or check out our website so you will know I am for real.


  10. Hello Attorney E.M.,

    I have 3 primary questions for you, which are as follows:

    I see in my research that some states require that all grievances/complaints against attorneys and/or judges are to be kept strictly confidential such as Delaware, Idaho, Ohio, Alabama, Washington, Virginia, and others, while some states such as Florida permit the sharing of such information. Other state bar websites such as Texas mention nothing in regard to the requirement of confidentiality.

    1. Do you have a comprehensive list of states that have requirements of strict confidentiality, have no confidentiality requirements, and states that are neutral in regard to the sharing of such information?

    2. Would you recommend or discourage an individual who files a grievance/complaint against an attorney/judge (respectively) in a state that has no confidentiality requirements to send notification to the attorney’s or judge’s malpractice insurance or bond provider of a grievance or complaint once it has been filed, or once the disciplinary comity has reached its determination?

    3. Is it customary or allowable for a litigant to file a grievance against opposing counsel if the litigant has reason to believe and therefore does believe that said counsel has committed a violation of law, procedural rules, or any of the rules of professional conduct or cannons of ethics, i.e. barratry, aggravated perjury, filing frivolous motions/pleadings, candor toward the tribunal, etcetera?

    I think it would be extremely helpful to have this information here on your blog site with emphasis on states that strictly prohibit the sharing, or publication of information in this regard.

    Thank you,

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