ABA Journal


Government Law

Parents rally against law firm after school lawyer uses ‘mother of all insults’ in video rant

Jul 8, 2013, 10:40 pm CDT


Comment removed by moderator.

By B. McLeod on 2013 07 08, 11:55 pm CDT

The law firm has, appropriately, been fired. I saw the coverage of the incident on the news, and no lawyer -- particularly those representing a school district -- should be shouting obscenities at parents. the lawyers appeared to have either started -- or at the very least escalated an uncalled for confrontation, B. MCLeod's snarky comments notwithstanding.

By donniem23 on 2013 07 09, 10:26 am CDT

Well, it's not like he asked me first (had it been otherwise, this story would be about "the Lawyer of all Insults").

By B. McLeod on 2013 07 09, 12:29 pm CDT

Not only was the firm fired, but looks like Chris Kirby is no longer with the firm, at least according to their website line-up of lawyers?

By wow on 2013 07 09, 12:47 pm CDT

Hey, maybe the lawyer was an Aussie and he was referring to the parents as his mates.

By NoleLaw on 2013 07 09, 1:01 pm CDT

For those interested, there's a fascinating article online somewhere about the evolution of the "c-word" from something you could see in a Shakespearean pun to the "mother of all insults."

I've personally never understood the fascination. By treating the reference to the vagina as a tremendous insult, it's sort of like saying there's something wrong with the vagina itself -- reinforcing literally two millennia of patriarchy that has held a double-standard between male and female sexuality.

Then again, we are not rational creatures.

By Anonymous on 2013 07 09, 1:39 pm CDT

What was it that the woman talked about at the school board meeting, that set all this off?

By JimB on 2013 07 09, 2:02 pm CDT

another low point in the "practice" of law---embarrassing.

By Alistair on 2013 07 09, 2:52 pm CDT

The law firm should have been fired and the speaker of the word in question should have to hold a bar of Lifebuoy soap in his mouth for at least a week.

And I fully agree that word in question (I hesitate to use even the first initial of the word in this post) merits the title the 'Mother of All Insults' clearly surpassing the F-word in vulgarity

By Yankee on 2013 07 09, 3:01 pm CDT

Very few people are going to be sympathetic to Kirby -- mostly people who've been to school board meetings.

By Ham Solo on 2013 07 09, 3:58 pm CDT

@6 - "...we are not rational creatures." Are you suggesting that we can't understand normal thinking?

By NoleLaw on 2013 07 09, 4:05 pm CDT

No, I'm suggesting we're hardwired to ignore it.

By Anonymous on 2013 07 09, 4:20 pm CDT

During the comment period at the tail end of a five-hour school board meeting Tuesday night, parent and education activist Peggy Hatton began speaking about how her son, a special-education student at Spring Valley High School, had failed the science portion of the Regent’s exam by a single point. Kirby, who sat alongside the members of the board, interrupted Hatton’s remarks with an audible laugh.

“Is it funny? I’m sorry. Shame on you,” Hatton said before Kirby stood and exited the meeting.

When the lawyer returned, Hatton was still speaking.

“You’re still smirking at me, please!” Hatton told him.

“Oh would you please shut up, for Christ’s sake,” Kirby, an associate at the Minerva and D’Agostino law firm, said as he lashed out.

At this point, another parent confronted Kirby and demanded that the board kick him out of the meeting. The school board sat quietly, however.

By mmm on 2013 07 09, 5:46 pm CDT

@ 13: Thanks for the posting. While I thoroughly disagree with Kirby's behavior, I don't believe the mother was correct, either. If you want to whine about your child's medical or educational issues, make an appointment with your school, schedule a meeting for a section 540/IEP program or other necessary accommodations, etc. Someone from the Board should have politely stopped her after it became obvious what she was going to discuss, and asked her to speak to them after the meeting. For one thing, much of this information is supposed to be kept confidential, and the Board CAN'T discuss it.

By BMF on 2013 07 10, 3:27 pm CDT

McLeod, as someone familiar with your "joke" I can say that it is vulgar and inappropriate here and should be deleted by the editors.

By Paul the Magyar on 2013 07 10, 8:59 pm CDT

Paul the Magyar, I must on this occasion respectfully expostulate with you, Sir.

My post has been present for approximately three days, in front of God and everyone (including whoever on staff might review posts for propriety, if anyone exercises such functions), and you, the fifteenth poster, are the first to see any issue with it.

I suggest to you that this is because the fifteen words with which you evidently take issue are, in fact, completely appropriate and innocuous, and that it is only when you add several paragraphs of material from your own mind (but which I have not posted) that those fifteen words (or perhaps some subset of them) may take on the bent you find potentially vulgar and inappropriate. In other words, and in short, it is your own fault that you are implying a context of many additional words and sentences which I have not posted in order to view my post as offensive. I am shocked (shocked) that you have even had the temerity to come to this august website to think such wrongful thoughts.

By B. McLeod on 2013 07 10, 10:42 pm CDT

I agree that it would be inappropriate to refer to it as the "father of all insults."

By AndytheLawyer on 2013 07 11, 5:31 pm CDT

Huh. After all this time, something or someone has befallen my (perfectly appropriate) initial comment.

Good job, Paul the Magyar.

At least I applaud you for raising your complaint openly, as opposed to the infantile, behind-the-scenes back-stabbing that normally prevails here.

By B. McLeod on 2013 07 12, 7:39 am CDT

I wonder how long B. McLeod had to sit at the computer and pan back and forth between this site and I certainly do not wish this comment to be construed as condoning Mr. Kirby's behavior, as it was obviously inappropriate, unprofessional, and simply moronic, but I would like to point out that I think at least some fault should be set on the camera operator. Had Mr. Kirby's rant been aimed primarily at that target I think it would be less news-worthy. and therefore the entire account should be viewed in light of all of the attendant circumstances and not simply through the lens of the appalling comments Mr. Kirby made to (Ms. Hatton).

By Law Grad on 2013 07 12, 8:50 am CDT

Frankly, if I were the parents who was mocked at during the school board meeting, I would consider filing a complaint against Chris Kirby through his bar membership. I feel pretty confident that he has violated the New York Rules of Professional Conduct. Under Rule 8.4 (entitled "Misconduct") under section (h), it states that a lawyer or law firm SHALL NOT engage in any other conduct that adversely reflects on the lawyer’s fitness as a lawyer." I would argue that the behavior he exhibited both during the meeting and in the parkig lot adversely reflects on his fitness as a lawyer. I hope that the parent considers submitting a complaint to the New York Bar Association. The lack of professionalism displayed by Chris Kirby is absolutely shocking to this attorney, who graduated law school in 1995. I am speechless. And if I were the cameraman, I would be filing a complaint with the police department, as Chris Kirby physically intimidated him. I hope Chris Kirby's professional career is negatively impacted by this behavior. He should be ashamed of himself.

By Lawyer since 1995 on 2013 07 12, 11:06 am CDT

In Britain we have a euphemism: See You Next Tuesday. Do you guys use that?

By Andrew on 2013 07 12, 12:19 pm CDT

@ 21 - I heard that one before, but generally the word is not as popular here as it is in those countries that more recently separated from the Empire. It's a colorful term, and I don't think it is necessarily worse than every other vulgarity one can think of. I especially like the use of the word in Oz, where "my c---s and I got pissed last night" would refer to something as innocuous as a guy and his buddies getting drunk. (We also have a euphemism, see @6.)

By NoleLaw on 2013 07 12, 12:30 pm CDT

I meant @11.

By NoleLaw on 2013 07 12, 12:31 pm CDT

This is one time that the State's Bar will not be able to deny that one of their lawyers has: 1) anger problems, 2) mental problems, 3) acted in an unprofessional manner, and 4) every known ethical code as set by the state's code of professional conduct.
This particular lawyer (if we can still call him that) can kiss his licenses good-bye. As a certified paralegal, I do know that if I were to even act half the way he did, my association would have no problem in pulling my certification. This is way the general public has the attitude they do about the legal profession.

By Michael Parker on 2013 07 12, 12:54 pm CDT

Two millennia of patriarchy wrapped up in the C-word? The corresponding part of male anatomy is also an insult, as is a unisex part of the anatomy in the same region.

I'm not saying sexism and patriarchy don't exist, and I certainly admit that much of what we call civilization is based on the attempt to use wealth to control female sexuality. However, anatomical insults appear to cut both ways.

By james on 2013 07 12, 1:07 pm CDT

Wow- just watched the videos of this attorney. He should be disbarred for his behavior and inability to control himself.

By Steve on 2013 07 12, 2:30 pm CDT

So, I just watched the videos...All I can say is that Mrs. Hatton seems to think someone owes her something. From what I could see, she can dish it out, but cannot take it. I am not sure why she thinks she can control someone else's facial expressions. She can no more do that than I can control how much she weights. So, someone walked backed in the room - and she lost her train of thought because of how she interpreted THE LOOK ON HIS FACE!! She apparently suffers from some type of disorder. She is actually really upset because she failed to do her job - meaning, her son (for whatever reasons) failed the test.

I laughed out loud when she said in the parking lot that she had never been called the names that were hurled at her....really?? What an outstanding, little protected world she lives in! I believe that amount of overprotection leads to the types of total meltdowns she had in the parking lot. She actually asked others to "not let him leave" the parking lot. I notice she did not hurl her ample self in front of the car - she was hoping others would do that for her? So, she has a lot of mouth...not much else.

Oh, for sure the lawyer should not have hurled names at her. But hey, SHE STARTED IT. I suppose she ought to put on her big girl panties if she is going to roll with the big - albeit most likely, unemployed - boys!! White folks never cease to amaze me.

By MotherofChildren on 2013 07 12, 3:26 pm CDT

That mother of all insults is so rarely used that most people under 30 I question have never heard the word and do not know what it means. I had a case in 2006 where the opposing party called me and each of my clients that word more than 100 times during a settlement conference, even though we all were males. I realized I had not heard that word for most of my adult life.

By Oregon Lawyer on 2013 07 12, 3:35 pm CDT

We need to retire all of our current swear words, including every single word that refers to sexual acts or body parts, and come up with totally new ones.

I suggest we use fast-food sandwich names:

"You low-down Double-Meat Stacker!"
"You're a real Baconator, you know that?"
"Why, you Fuddrucker!"

By R on 2013 07 12, 3:42 pm CDT

This attorney should be disbarred an sued for multiple slanders as well as civil rights violations. It is conduct like this that causes public distrust of the legal profession.

By JOHN CULLEY on 2013 07 12, 3:43 pm CDT

Yeah, I gotta agree w/ Ham @ 10, BMF @ 14, and especially Mother @ 27 (though we really don't need to play the race card, do we?). What Mr. Kirby said & did in the parking lot after the meeting was indefensibly poor judgment -- he's got like five cameras in his face and isn't smart enough to keep his trap shut?? -- and it looks like he has already suffered the consequences. But, this parent Ms. Hatton seems like a complete nut job too. She's up there pontificating and referring to herself in the third person at the end of a five-hour meeting and someone "smirking" sends her into a tizzy? (And the other parent screaming off-camera was even worse!) Please.

The real winner -- a veritable modern-day Nostradamus -- is the guy who says, repeatedly, "Chris, just go home, you're going to regret this in the morning." Bingo.

By Just Some Bloke on 2013 07 12, 3:47 pm CDT

Not condoning the inability to control himself, but this was not one sided. The mother was provoking him. Someone else apparently was calling him names as well-and even suggested the brawl. Not one sided. In fact, didn't the parking lot incident all start with a parent calling him "a....."?Wearisome. I suppose he should have listened to it, felt very annoyed, then internalized it and moved on. Would have helped if these parents could have controlled their feelings of annoyance, too. Instead, they escalated it in the parking lot.

By Shani on 2013 07 12, 3:58 pm CDT

Clearly there is a history between these two. Neither of them would have any reason whatsoever to just snap like they both did unless there is something that has taken place, i.e. she's filed actions before on behalf of her son and he's defended them, or whatever. I've been in many meetings in which I've wanted nothing more than to hit the other side with a 2x4, but nothing like these exchanges ever took place. While this woman may be an absolute pain in the butt to deal with, I cannot envision a single reason why it would ever be appropriate for a lawyer to explode at her like he did both at the Board meeting and then to get out of his car to confront and escalate in the parking lot. But this guy better start drafting up his response to the State Bar petitioning for sanctions, suspension or disbarment.

By Ken B. on 2013 07 12, 4:04 pm CDT

The "Mother of all Insults" is actually an Old Elizabethan English Word which has now fallen into the heavy artillery of epithet locker. I suppose it was so disliked by the Victorian Era ladies hearing it from the Working class blokes in casual conversation that it was Frozen Out of Usage. Hmmmmm.

By LawDawg Bama on 2013 07 12, 4:06 pm CDT

In many English towns there was in mediaeval times a street called Gropec**t Lane - all now either swept away by rebuilding, or renamed something innocuous, or in one case now called Grapecoat Lane. It was of course in what we would now call the red-light district of the town and the name described in forthright terms what happened there.

By Andrew on 2013 07 12, 4:33 pm CDT

"Never argue with an idiot. They will only bring you down to their level and beat you with experience." - George Carlin

By City Slicker on 2013 07 12, 4:41 pm CDT

@31 Bloke, you are right, I should not have played the race card. But, I am black and when black folks act like knuckleheads, I make a similar statement (but, I use a non-PC word to describe my own :-)). Oh and I noticed a typo in my entry - meant to say "weighs" vs. "weights."

@30: Please enlighten me on the lawyer's civil rights violations. Seems to me he was being yelled at and called names, and he enthusiastically returned the favor. Granted, that will most assuredly not save him from ramifications from the bar, but he should have listened to his "friend" and simply driven away after he said his peace (or, after the topic of picking the place for the fight came up).

Sorry, Bloke, but you know that is stuff that white folks do - make an appointment to have a fist fight. Ha ha ha. Some black women I know would have been "wind milling" him after he hurled his first insult. Of course, I am..uh, sophisticated and educated (LOL), so I do not act like that (any more!). I am probably a little older than Mrs. Hatton, but I would have invited her to a fist fight (as a woman, I can do that!). Though, one would think that having a law degree would help me make better choices. Smile - it is Friday.

By MotherofChildren on 2013 07 12, 4:55 pm CDT

I would rather read B. McLeod's comment than the article- the infantile Magyar notwithstanding.

By poser on 2013 07 12, 5:02 pm CDT

Having looked at the YouTube videos it's very obvious there has been a whole lot of provocation by the parents/complainers before this lawyer went off the deep end. That doesn't excuse the lawyer's behavior, but it does provide context.

Look at all the YouTube videos from the same person (with comments blocked, of course, so no one can tell him/her to get a life) claiming that the lawyer had previously done this or that ... My favorite was the one that says the lawyer is "smirking" when the video doesn't even show that at all; in fact, the lawyer isn't even in the frame.

That being said, life is unfair. Customer service reps get yelled at on a routine basis. Politicians get called horrible names. Doctors, nurses, firefighters, nursing home attendants etc. get screamed at by irate or terrified victims or family members when they're doing everything they can to help. And lawyers get belittled by judges and are the punch line of most of the worst jokes around. That's just how life is. This lawyer needs to get some help to deal in a constructive manner with the slings and arrows that will routinely come his way as an attorney. He has lost his job, and yes there should be some disciplinary consequence of some sort, together with referral to anger management.

So: he will be punished - and rightly so. His comments and behavior were disgusting and crude. Now it would be nice to ask the parents who called him an a**hole in the parking lot and who posted all those other YouTube videos against him before his meltdown:

Do you feel good about yourselves?

Do you think you've been good role models for your kids?

Do you think there's anything YOU could have done differently?

I'm sure their answers will be no, that they feel totally blameless and in the right: but perhaps maybe, just maybe, they should ask themselves those types of questions late at night when they have a moment to reflect.

By R on 2013 07 12, 5:34 pm CDT

typical lawyer got out of the closet where most bar members hide - he was 'flashed out of there.' now that he revealed his attitude to 'lay men,' DOJ might hire him to write some 'opinions' for NSA, torture, etc. or he will be appointed as a judge: board members should be fired too for not being able to restrain 'one of their kind' - accidents and stressful situation like that expose people's true faces and characters.

By Whatever on 2013 07 12, 5:36 pm CDT


By Seinfeld on 2013 07 12, 5:46 pm CDT

@28 The last time I heard this word in all of its ugliness uttered was in 1973. The young lady to whom this slur was directed took immediate exception, and the confrontation that resulted therefrom was exceeding unpleasant, even from position as a bystander.

By Yankee on 2013 07 12, 5:52 pm CDT

MotherofChildren- Lol you cracked me up. Happy Friday!

By Trish on 2013 07 12, 5:55 pm CDT

Anonymous #6, it's not just names for the female genitalia that become insults.
Males are treated equally in that way. There are several words for a penis that are grossly insulting to call someone - and I'm not just talking Yiddish here. It used to be that "any Tom, Dick or Harry" was a fairly neutral reference, or at least not three insults; but now one can only say that about two of the three. And a verb that rhymes with the middle name is pretty insulting too when used to call a person some kind of penis.

The problem is in the over-reach, when seeking to insult someone somehow, into the generally off-topic realm of their gender. Any fit it may have to the situation is really just due to stereotyping, and that's rarely a very accurate or persuasive basis for an insult anymore. (Just enraging.)

When people get angry, it's amazing how the insults they spout end up insulting themselves the most.

By Avon on 2013 07 12, 6:15 pm CDT

It appears to me that the lawyer was trying to leave and the women kept provoking him. The women were clucking like a pack of hens at him and to the main instigator's comment that "nobody has ever called [her] that name before" it's about time somebody did.

The attorney should have been more professional and refused to rise to the bait, but you just know if he had just hopped in his car and zoomed out of there, one of those drama queens would have jumped on his hood and claimed he was trying to run her over.

By Ron Kansen on 2013 07 12, 6:29 pm CDT

@39......were you watching the same first video I did? I mean, the lawyer clearly ADMITS by his own admission that he was fact he tels the parent...."I'[m smirking...I'm smirking". Next the video evidence clearly shows the lawyer telling the parent "I work for the school board, not you" Excuse me me high priced seem to forget, the school board is paid by taxpayers taxes. You also seem to fail to understand, if it wasn't for the parent's children attending your schools, there would be no school board. The lawyer responded in typical school board fasion when he told the parent " Why don't you sue the school board. Cost the taxpayers millions of dollars". So with his admission in the parking lot.....he even knew he was in the wrong. What makes it worse for him is when, one of the actual school board members was attempting to get him to leave and he was wanting to continue to get out of the car and argue with, in fact, he actually admitted to the individual who was videoing the parking lot argument...."You want to get by, I'm not going to move". Last-time I read the law, that could and should be consiered "false imprisonment." But you're right, it was all the parents fault. The lawyer was completely in the right.....NOT.

By Michael Parker on 2013 07 12, 6:38 pm CDT

22 Thank you Notelaw. In Britain and I believe in Oz pissed means drunk - pissed off means annoyed. So when I heard one New York lawyer soay to anotehr "I got really pissed with the judge yesterday" I was for a moment confused . . .

By Andrew on 2013 07 12, 6:47 pm CDT

McLeod @ various, I'm very sorry I missed your removed post. Most of us are quite capable of deciding on our own what we find offensive or not. AndytheLawyer @17, under any nondiscriminatory condemnation and criticism of the "C"-word, the "father of all insults" would be a "P"-word or "D"-word that rhymes with trick. Odd how those words do not generate the discriminatory purported outrage generated by the "C"-word. If one combines the ingredients in this alphabet soup, and stir vigorously, one cooks-up "PC."
Is anyone here in favor of the First Amendment? Curiously, no commentator/condemnor (of Kirby) even mentions it. If, as our Supreme Court fairly recently ruled, one has the right to yell all sorts of obnoxious insults during someone's funeral, attorney Kirby had the right to use the insult of his choice during the public forum at which he spoke. I'm not saying his words and actions were real smart, but I am defending his right to free speech, which his firing by the school board deprived him (an obvious section 1983 claim for Kirby -- don't ask for a jury and hope you do not draw a female judge).

By Realist on 2013 07 12, 6:50 pm CDT

@27...the person who left the room was the lawyer....and excuse me. I help parents of all races with mediation with our local school board. I can tell you from personal experience that parents of all races tend to lose their cool with school boards. Especially when they are "patted on their back, and laughed at as they walk out the office door."....and yes, I have seen this before, more than once.
The lawyer was informed by the school board that he was off the clock, once he walked out the door. He should have not been allowed back in as the attorney-of-record for the school board. And keepiing in mind, it was the "dumbass" lawyer who threw the first cuss word at the parent, who was totally within their right to approach the school board. From what I SAW IN THE was the lawyer who admitted that he was in fact "smirking" at the parent. She has peacefully asked him to stop. He was the one, along with the members of the school board, who allowed this situation to get out of hand. My question for the school board would be this....where was security?

By Michael Parker on 2013 07 12, 6:53 pm CDT

AHAHAHAHAHHAHAH maybe Kirby was just trying to be succinct and blUNT !!!!!!!!!!!! AHAHAHAHAHAH

By EJF on 2013 07 12, 7:15 pm CDT

it is clear that when two a**holes collide with each other, in a small space,
...the s*** is sure to hit the fan.

By beentheredonethat on 2013 07 12, 7:18 pm CDT

@49: It was Mrs. H who first mentioned the "smirk." Had she kept trying to make excuses for why her child failed to meet the standards instead of devolving into a "he's looking at me!" kind of child-like whine, all would have been better off.

So what he SMIRKED!! God help her if she lived in the real world where people smirk at you and EVEN CALL YOU NAMES!! I am not saying the lawyer's actions were appropriate - memorable, yes - appropriate, probably not. BUT, the lawyer had every right to take the "you're not the boss of me!" approach when the whiny mother took the "he's looking at me" position. Hey, kids will be kids. She tried to bully him and he pushed back - really hard!! Like I indicated earlier, she needs to put her big girl panties on if she is going to act like a lunatic.

P.S. You took the whole "race" issue waaayyy to seriously. As a parent who attends school board meetings, I am probably not very impressed by the "all races" trophies you carry around. Really, lighten up, stop bending over backwards to protect the lunatic mother and bashing the mother. They were both wrong - BUT SHE STARTED IT!

P.P.S. Yes, my children also have a lunatic - okay, mildly funny - mother. But, their mother has kids who score really well on standardized tests and earn As in their courses. Since she is childish, I can say this: Na nana kids are better than her kids (imagine me sticking my tongue out and smirking at Mrs. H).

P.P.P.S. Smile - it is FRIDAY!!

By MotherofChildren on 2013 07 12, 7:19 pm CDT

@48 - You misunderstand the First Amendment -- it merely prevents the *government* from restricting your speech.

If you go off on a rant like this guy did, your clients (and the state Bar) can do as they see fit. If there are limits on your employer's actions, they're set by employment laws (which in a case like this aren't likely to do you much good.)

By Ham Solo on 2013 07 12, 7:30 pm CDT

@49: I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but Ms. H started it. If she had just stayed on her meds for a few more minutes and ignored whatever face she thinks she saw, all would have been better off. She esssentially did the equivalent of "he's looking at me!" and he pretty much said, "you're not the boss of me!" So, the whiny mother tried to bully the confident lawyer - not sure that worked out too well for her; it almost certainly hasn't worked out well for the lawyer. That obviously overweight, whiny bully ought to put her 'big girl' panties on if she wants to try to intimidate someone at a meeting. Not everyone is as impressed with her third person references as she seems to be.

By the way, you are taking the whole "race" thing waaayyy too seriously. As a black mother who attends school board meetings, I get it. Heck, I might even throw a (rhetorical) jab at someone who I think is smirking when I am speaking. But, I will not go crying about never being called certain names when they decide to strike back. I am trying to make my way back into the black - no pun intended - and hopefully, get into Heaven. BUT, in my day, I could curse like a Marine (probably because I have been one for more than two decades). Yes, a sister has a lot of demerits where the Lord is concerned. :-)

P.S. Stop trying to bend over backwards to protect the lunatic mother and bash the confident lawyer. Given my total, unabashed blackness, I am probably not as impressed with your "help parents of all races" trophy. But, hey, if it helps you to sleep at night, good on you!

P.P.S. For sure, my kids have a lunatic - and mildly funny - mother. But, their mother has kids who score really well on standardized tests and earn As.

P.P.S. Imagine me with my tongue sticking out and say, "na na kids are smarter than your kids" to Ms. H. Did I make her cry? Will she try to keep me from leaving the parking lot? Smile - it is FRIDAY!!!

By MotherofChildren on 2013 07 12, 7:32 pm CDT

Please forgive the nearly identical entries - I got an error message when I hit submit, so I just figured my first comment "did not take."

Please do not use this occasion to call me horrible names that I have never been called before because that will hurt my feelings and compel me to ask people to prevent you from leaving.


By MotherofChildren on 2013 07 12, 7:43 pm CDT

@ 52.....there's just one difference between the mother and the lawyer.....the Wannabe lawyer took an oath to act professionally. God forbid if opposing counsel ever says anything that he doesn't like....we all know we'd be safe from him...due to his being a lawyer. BTW, as a lawyer but more importantly, as member of the school board, he knew he was in the wrong by "smirking or laughing at the parent." The lawyer chose to leave and even though he was informed by the school board (his employer) that he was off the clock by walking out, he chose to return and just to make the parent more upset.....
All can say is this.....if he was in the right then 1) why was he dismssed by his law firm, 2) why was his firm terminated to represent the school board? Oh, I guess you fail to realize that schools and their employees have a little thing called a contract to follow which states they are to "treat parents and students with resoect." Also, addressing her compliant to school board in an open meeting is well within her (the parents rights). If the lawyer didn't want to hear it....he should have stayed out of the meeting....
Also, as far as I'm concerned.....I hope the parents do sue the district....I mean, the only way to get anyones attention nowadays, is to attack their pocketbook.
By the way, it was your post (where you brought out the race card to begin with) so whatever make you feel so good about yourself....make sure you pat yourself on your back and give yourself a cookie for being black......I am not impressed with anything you stated....the first thing you need to do is read the law and understand the law......the lawyer was in the wrong. Go to the school districts website and research the policies and procedures for employees and then make sure you read the NY Code of Professional Conduct and then, come back and lets have a well informed debate about who was right or who was wrong.....

By Michael Parker on 2013 07 12, 7:59 pm CDT

@56 - Yea, perhaps the attorney should be publicly reprimanded. But if the Bar (or whoever else regulates attorneys there) has bigger fish to fry, they ought to focus on those bigger fish.

By NoleLaw on 2013 07 12, 8:00 pm CDT

Another nail in the coffin of civility. Kinda makes you ashamed for the entire legal profession. Do they have an attorney disciplinary procedure in NY? In IN Kirby would be toast and his license to practice law would be gone.

And what's all the preoccupation with slang words for genitalia. Most of this commentary is sophmoric.

By Old Geezer on 2013 07 12, 8:39 pm CDT

Comment removed by moderator.

By Name removed by moderator. on 2013 07 12, 8:41 pm CDT

@59......kiiiiinda most not be able to read or understand simple english. Like I advised you to do...go read the school boards policies and procedures first and then next, read the NY Code of Professional Conduct...then when you finally "google" all of the terms and verbage as contained within ...maybe, just might make a good arguement. As far as suing me.....I am not Paula Deen....please sue me! Just make sure you take a number and stand in might be number 9,999,999,999.
And make sure you know the difference between a lawyer in court and a lawyer EMPLOYED by the school district. Anyway it goes, the lawyer on or off the clock has to follow the Code of Professional Conduct....the parent on the other hand, has every right to defend their child or another parent's child in a calm and respectful manner. It was the oversized, big-mouthed, I'm better than thou lawyer who might think he is better than God himself.....but when it's all said and done......the parent will still be able to go back to the school board meetings, while the attorney stands on the street and begs for work to feed himself.

By Michael Parker on 2013 07 12, 9:15 pm CDT

Comment removed by moderator.

By Name removed by moderator. on 2013 07 12, 9:29 pm CDT

hahahah, @60 and others who pointed out that dirty mouth lawyer will be pounding the pavement now.

give that outofwork lawyer a gun,
so that he can become a neighborhood vigilante,
and then he can REALLY make it big on TV court news, not just a viral youtobe video.

By beentheredonethat on 2013 07 12, 9:30 pm CDT

Comment removed by moderator.

By Name removed by moderator. on 2013 07 12, 9:38 pm CDT

Yeah, might want to ix-ney on the eds-mey (that one sometimes hits a raw nerve of something or someone that eats comments on this site).

By B. McLeod on 2013 07 12, 11:17 pm CDT

I'm just dying to know what B. McLeod said in the first post.

By Healthynut on 2013 07 12, 11:52 pm CDT

I can but assume it would only vanish anew upon reiteration. However, I can tell you that it did not contain any word that was even arguably "profanity," did not "resort to name-calling, threats or personal attacks" and was not "advertising," nor did it include any aspect of masquerading as someone I am not. In other words, it did not in any way violate the alleged "comment policy" that ostensibly controls what is appropriate on this site.

But, whatever, you know?

By B. McLeod on 2013 07 13, 12:06 am CDT

In Jersey he'd be rewarded with the governorship.

By Fnlawyer on 2013 07 13, 12:38 am CDT

@63 And only a person who is too afraid to let theirself be known hides behind a fake name....

By Michael Parker on 2013 07 13, 1:41 am CDT

Just want to chime in and say that YES, there is history here, a very long and bitter one. I grew up in that school district, and it's very sad what has been happening to it. If anyone is interested, here's a story about the allegations and law suit: There is also an investigation being conducted by the state AG's office.

Also, complete coverage (if you have a lot of spare time): Ramapo: A district divided

By sue on 2013 07 13, 1:17 pm CDT

I think No. 67 is onto something. People would be a lot more careful about these sorts of tirades if they knew they might be made Governor of New Jersey. Assuming they were rational enough to be deterred by any threat of punishment.

In the case of this guy, I can only wonder how his firm missed the signs that there might be something going south with his mentation. Were they unconscious? Or simply victims of an unshakable repose in the status quo? How could they send him to a public meeting of a governmental client when he was this close to a complete snapping point?

Whatever else is true here, this firm amply deserved to lose this client.

By B. McLeod on 2013 07 13, 1:31 pm CDT

While I do think the attorney's language was inappropriate and unprofessional, I find the actions of the parents highly inappropriate. The first parent's comments inside were not properly before the school board and should have been brought before her son's school officials. When the attorney returned to the room, she is the one who went ballistic simply because the attorney was allegedly 'smirking' at her. Since when is smirking a crime? And the second woman who stood up and started screaming at the attorney and the board was seriously out of line. Watching the video of the parking lot, the parents started the whole argument and virtually 'ganged up' on the attorney, screaming and calling the cops on him. What did he do to warrant the cops being called? Using the F word or even the C word (which happened AFTER the woman called the cops) is not a criminal offense. Should the law firm been fired for this incident alone? No. But the parents who started the whole fight should have been warned that their actions could be considered assault and that if they continued to act in such a way, they should have been barred from further school board meetings. Sheesh, what a bunch of idiots.

By Mary M. on 2013 07 13, 4:26 pm CDT

But of course, unlike the "bunch of idiots," the attorney was there in the course of a professional engagement and, being an attorney, was subject to the rules of professional conduct.

By B. McLeod on 2013 07 13, 4:56 pm CDT

Ham Solo @ 53 I disagree and ask you examine your own misunderstanding. Of course (ConLaw 101), the U.S. Constitution does not apply to private employers taking adverse employment actions against their employees, but that is not what happened. The school board is not a private employer; it is a government entity to which the US Constitution applies. The Constitution unquestionably applies to public employers' relations with their employees and those with whom they chose to restrict their contracts. If a government entity fires its attorney based solely on the inflammatory content of their attorneys speech during a public forum in a public debate, that surely is the government (in the form of the school board) restricting its attorney's freedom of speech. There are innumerable reported cases in which the person/employee/contractor whose right to free speech was restricted by being fired sued, won and recovered substantial damages under Section 1983. Don't fire him because of the content of what he said is advice routinely given by employment attorneys who represent public entities.

By Realist on 2013 07 13, 8:06 pm CDT

Well, after watching both videos, I can TOTALLY understand why the WSBA is going after my license.

By Tom Youngjohn on 2013 07 13, 9:35 pm CDT

Comment removed by moderator.

By Justina on 2013 07 14, 10:16 pm CDT

The comments up until now seem to be from people who are outside the area and are therefore unaware that this squabble arose in the context of a highly toxic conflict based on religious antagonism. The East Ramapo NY school board, Kirby's former client, is controlled by Orthodox Jews whose own children attend parochial schools. The opposition alleges that the board manipulates the school system's assets to the advantage of the orthodox constituency and the detriment of the public school students. The conflict has provoked intense debate in this area, and is getting worse because the political structure has been avoiding involvement. While this is like the typical school board squabble in some ways, it is much uglier in others. Kirby's misconduct must be understood in context for the issue to be understood at all.

By andy g the yaiie on 2013 07 15, 12:59 am CDT

Even so, I don't think that makes it OK. I don't think there is a context in which it would be OK.

By B. McLeod on 2013 07 15, 3:42 am CDT

Most of the attorneys I know & I myself regularly deal with upset people, angry people, hostile people, and people who down right piss us off. Dealing with these people in as professional a manner as possible is part of the job. The parents actually behaved quite civilly in the videos and got a ridiculous reponse. I can't believe this guy was challenging someone to a fight in a parking lot. That's what defendants/respondents and teenage boys do, not attorneys. I hope this was reported to the bar. Maybe he should consider a new career as a cage fighter.

By ML on 2013 07 15, 3:12 pm CDT

Thank you, ML. I totally agree. I find it strange that people would think that the parent and the lawyer representing the school board should be held to the same standard. I get it. The mother probably overreacted to some extent. I dunno--someone taunting me and telling me to "shut up" would be very upsetting to me. But the person who told her to "shut up" is the lawyer representing the school board. Are you kidding me? I'd like to know what rules she violated with her words? I can tell you (as mentioned above), that the attorney definitely violated some ethics laws in his behavior. Sorry--these two people are not equals. I can't believe he was incapable of restraining his anger. If he was so confident in his knowledge that this woman is an idiot, then why would her words upset him so much? If someone wants to call me an a-hole, I wouldn't care. A cameraman calls him an a-hole, and he then threatens violence. What kind of professional is he? Please, I hope a parent submits a formal complaint against him with the bar association. This guy deserves to lose his license. We all have bad days, but this guy's behavior was over the top. His lack of professionalism was disgustingt, in this attorney's eyes. If I were at the hearing, I'd submit a complaint about him myself. Stop giving the guy excuses, Mother. You're ridiculous.

By Law grad in 1995 on 2013 07 15, 3:48 pm CDT

Kirby's biggest mistake was not calling the woman a "cunt." It was acting as if you need to be a lawyer or have a law degree to be part of the conversation and public discourse. The guy is obviously fed up with this group and will be better off working elsewhere. A little advice, if you want to take the public dollars, then be available to answer their questions and evaluate their needs and wants too.

By Scott Turner on 2013 07 15, 10:54 pm CDT

What these two videos do is actually make a case for having State Bar Associations regulate lawyer conduct, which is not the case in New York. (I really hated saying that.) But if there is no way the group can file a complaint against this jerk with a judge, or better yet, an appellate level court, then there ought to be a way for them to a criminal complaint, "intimidation," perhaps. I hope I don't sound like a moron to ask this, but What would the Founders do in a case like this?

How would they handle it without State Bar Associations? I think they'd have him locked up for a week anyway, if not tar and feather him. That would change his tune. Actually, a few days in jail would probably be enough. Lock him up until he apologizes. Fair enough. I bet he'd learn to be more respectful. But any solution would be better than giving the regulation of attorney conduct over to Bar Associations, based on my ongoing experience at least.

I hate State Bar Associations, their minions, their colleagues, their lovers, their volunteers, their volunteer lovers, you name it. Hate them all.

But I don't have to say that using bad language or in an intimidating way.

By Tom Youngjohn on 2013 07 16, 1:42 am CDT

I've got it. If I were a judge in New York, say in Buffalo or anywhere, and if I saw these videos, I would post an order, a public order, even if this jerk has never set foot in my courtroom and never will, I would post an order that this man, I loath to call him that, that this New York attorney will not be allowed to practice in my court, unless and until he apologizes to my satisfaction on Youtube to the victims. That's how I'd handle it. I'd order him suspended from practicing in my court were I a judge.

By Tom Youngjohn on 2013 07 16, 1:54 am CDT seem to hate anyone and anything connected to the legal field but yet, you're here on the ABA website? As for hating those associated with State Bar Associations.....I am associated with the State Bar (as one their volunteers and I don't know what stae you are out of but, here in Texas, the Bar takes an attorney's conduct very serious. In fact, there are tw3o attorneys in my hometown that are currently up for a disciplinary hearing this month, based on the compliants as filed against them. One of the attorney's has a very high chance of losing their licenses and the other will more than likely be placed on probation for 3 years.
Again, you seem to dislike anyone or anything associated with the legal only question to you i this: Why on God's green earth are you on the ABA's website?

By Michael Parker on 2013 07 16, 2:16 am CDT

Easy there, Tom. State Bar Associations aren't all bad. Shoot, even the ABA isn't all bad. Personally, I like to avoid telling people what I would do were I a judge, lest some day, in my dotage, people might want me to be a judge with an expectation that I would live up to all my improvident comments over the years.

By B. McLeod on 2013 07 16, 2:19 am CDT

The offending attorney ought to look up what the slander per se law is in his state. Some personnel injury attorney is going to have an almost free pay day at his expense if the ladies involved know what slander per se means.

By JOHN CULLEY on 2013 07 16, 2:52 am CDT

"you seem to hate anyone and anything connected to the legal field" Hmmm. I don't see how you can make that leap. I love the practice of immigration law. I respect judges. I just don't like " State Bar Associations, their minions, their colleagues, their lovers, their volunteers, their volunteer lovers, you name it" second guessing a litigator's professional judgement.

But if you want to leap to your unsupported conclusions, be my guest. I'm assuming, a terrible thing to do I must admit, from your innuendo, that you personally volunteer to prosecute or volunteer to judge your colleagues in "ethics" proceedings? (As if State Bar Associations had any insight into the meaning of that word.) Well, go ahead then, you who are free of sin, go on, cast the first stone. Just don't leave your DNA on that rock. You go on to say "Again, you seem to dislike anyone or anything associated with the legal field…" Again, I don't see that, and I'd like to ask anyone here if they can get that message from my post.

Actually, in drawing that type of assumption, and then repeating it as if it were Gospel, if you are actually serious, then you prove my point. State Bar Associations have incompetent legal minds volunteering to judge other legal minds for the slaughter. Now real judges, State judges, Immigration Judges, Federal Judges, having real experience at being balanced, and with dealing with the worst the world has to cough up, experience with life, such honorable men and women might well have that ability, that authority, that discernment. But you my friend, if you are indeed serious in your accusation against me, that I do not like anyone or anything associated with the legal field, you my friend are incompetent to judge your fellow attorneys in Texas or anywhere else for that matter, and you've proven my point. State Bar Associations are not fit to condemn their attorney practitioners, being driven on a "who's your buddy - crony form of nepotistic system of, what? I can't call it justice. Not based on my experience.

Why am I here, you ask? Good God man, can't you tell? I'm here because I'm having fun.

By Tom Youngjohn on 2013 07 16, 3:56 am CDT

Jeez, Tom. Lighten up, man. I'm sure there are some reasonable minds in your state bar association, and they probably mean well.

By B. McLeod on 2013 07 16, 5:35 am CDT

@86....No Tom, I am very capable of supporting my conclusions by using your own words and I quote you...."I hate State Bar Associations, their minions, their colleagues, their lovers, their volunteers, their volunteer lovers, you name it. Hate them all." As they say, I Rest My Case!! So before you try to WoW anyone with your attempts to belittle anyone, make sure anything you say cannot be used against you at a later time.....

By Michael Parker on 2013 07 16, 6:24 am CDT

If you look up the chain a ways, you'll note Tom has a bit of an issue with his state association, which may be coloring his views (fairly or unfairly).

By B. McLeod on 2013 07 16, 6:46 am CDT

@89.....I noticed that. I am starting to suspect that he might be the attorney inquestion within the article.....never know.

By Michael Parker on 2013 07 16, 8:42 am CDT

Please return to the topic of the article. Any comments which are off-topic will be deleted and the comments on this article will be closed.

- <b>Lee Rawles
Web Producer</b>

By Lee Rawles on 2013 07 16, 2:18 pm CDT

Ethics, in Buddhism, means intending not to harm anyone. I don't think that the attorney, and I use the word loosely, shown swearing and parent-bating in the videos above, is behaving in an ethical manner.

Here is an example of what I mean.

By Tom Youngjohn on 2013 07 16, 7:26 pm CDT

As a long time teacher of students with disabilities, a mother, AND an attorney, I feel compelled to address some of the comments made here. Each school district has a process for parents/students with grievances. You can be sure that this particular parent went through that process before she was allowed on the agenda at the school board meeting. It is obvious from this attorney's behavior that this was not an out-of-control moment for him. He was not angry at the parent during the board meeting. He was condescending, disrespectful, and obnoxious.

The parent in this case had a right to speak her piece to the school board and he did not respect that right. Parents of children with disabilities are their child's only advocate in a complicated, high-stakes bureaucratic system. They have great emotional investment in what their child has to go through to meet state standards, and often there is no one willing to help them through that process. THAT is what the parent was trying to express to the school board. It was not an outrageous request, and she deserved the respect that this man did not give her.

What happened outside the board meeting was simply an example of how pride and stupidity sometimes get the upper hand when emotion runs high. There is absolutely no reason for us, as outsiders, to make the same crass comments about a situation of which we have no first -hand knowledge.

By LRM on 2013 07 16, 9:01 pm CDT

Ha ha....the TV version of Die Hard 2: "Yippie Kayee MR. FALCON!" Not in the mood for thoughful response on this one...I just like the entertainment! :)

By SME on 2013 07 17, 5:57 pm CDT

"By treating the reference to the vagina as a tremendous insult, it’s sort of like saying there’s something wrong with the vagina itself—reinforcing literally two millennia of patriarchy that has held a double-standard between male and female sexuality."

Oh, get over yourself..."c*cksucker" really makes *male* genitalia out to be a picnic too.

Gender/victim studies makes its students into intellectual eunuchs.

By cas127 on 2013 07 17, 11:08 pm CDT

I don't know the details of the situation in this school district, with this parent. I do know, from having worked in a school district and having gone to some of the school board meetings, that sometimes parents who had tried every other avenue open to them within the district to get an issue resolved would end up getting to present the issue to the school board, and that sometimes after being heard by the school board, the school board would explain to the school district that yes, the superintendent or the principal would need to fix the problem, and that the school board expected to hear at the next meeting that the problem had been fixed to the parent's reasonable satisfaction.

Of course sometimes the parent was wrong, and that had to be dealt with, politely, too.

But the school board is the appropriate last resort for a parent, before resorting to litigation to deal with a failure on the part of a school district to provide an appropriate education for a student. So the parent should be listened to politely, no matter how late it is, how many times she has complained before, how petty you think the problem is. She is following appropriate procedure if the teacher, principal, assistant superintendent, and superintendent have failed to either remedy the educational defect or explain to her persuasively why the school district's conduct is correct.

If nothing else, she is making it a matter of public record that she attempted to remedy the situation administratively before going to court.

That is not an appropriate time for an attorney to belittle her in any manner. He was only bolstering her case if she does sue the district to get an appropriate education for her son. Some school districts have been required to fund a private school education for a child where it has been demonstrated that reasonable efforts to get an appropriate education in the public school system are futile. There is perhaps a risk that the parent will be able to effectively seek this remedy when her efforts have been met with documented, semi-official, public ridicule.

Nor is a five hour school board meeting anything close to a record.

I did not watch the video. I am not addressing the question of the lawyer's language and manners. I think that has been adequately addressed by other comments.

What I am addressing is the confusion in some earlier posters about why a parent would address comments about a single student's school experience to an open school board meeting. All school board meetings are open except for certain executive sessions to deal with certain types of personnel issues and perhaps other issues where there is a statutory requirement that they meet privately. So a parent who has exhausted all other internal remedies has to present to the school board in open session, even though she may not want her child's problems discussed in public, if she hopes to resolve the issue without going to court, which is slow and expensive.

By Kit on 2013 07 21, 2:47 am CDT

Many's the day I think about just throwing a saddle on the horse, with a bedroll, pack of jerky, and some water bottles, to just head off somewhere, away from other people, maybe north by north west. Just away from other people.

It's you.

By B. McLeod on 2013 07 21, 4:52 am CDT

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