Legal Ethics

Calif. Lawyer Disbarred Over Jury Vote

In a unanimous decision, the California Supreme Court has disbarred a San Francisco sole practitioner who changed his vote to break a deadlock while serving on a jury, after a monthlong trial and 10 days of deliberation.

The solo, Francis Fahy, then compounded his situation by allegedly lying to the trial judge about the reason for his vote, according to a Recorder article reprinted in New York Lawyer (reg. req.). He reportedly told fellow jurors that he broke the deadlock in order to end the trial and get back to his law practice.

His 2004 vote resulted in the acquittal of a defendant physician in a medical malpractice case.

Denying Fahy’s petition for review of a California State Bar Court recommendation that he lose his law license, the supreme court voted 6-0 yesterday to strike him from the state roll of attorneys, reports the Metropolitan News-Enterprise. Chief Justice Ronald George did not vote because he was on vacation.

In 2007, Fahy was put on a two-year active suspension for willfully misappropriating trust funds, the publication notes. He did not return a News-Enterprise phone call.

It appears that Fahy may be the first lawyer in state history to be disbarred for misconduct while serving on a jury, reports a March article in the Recorder. It discusses a California State Bar Court opinion (PDF) that Fahy should be disbarred.

At last report, Fahy had filed a federal civil rights suit over the attorney discipline case. His failure to acknowledge and correct his misconduct was one reason why the bar court found disbarment to be merited, notes the News-Enterprise.

Fahy was admitted in California in 1990.

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