Legal Ethics

Delaware Lawyer Reprimanded for Reporting a Hostage Situation in Spat with Ex-Colleague


A Delaware lawyer has been reprimanded based on allegations he falsely reported a “hostage situation” to police in a spat with another lawyer.

The Legal Profession Blog has news of the reprimand, imposed on Monday by the Delaware Supreme Court. According to a report by the supreme court’s Board of Professional Responsibility, lawyer Peter Schaeffer Jr. of Georgetown, Del., called the police during a confrontation with Gerry Gray, a lawyer who recently worked in the same office building with Schaeffer.

Gray maintained he was an independent contractor and Schaeffer’s subtenant, while Schaeffer believed he was an employee, according to the board report. The problems began when Schaeffer changed the locks in February 2010 and notified Gray he was no longer associated with Schaeffer’s law firm. Schaeffer and Gray exchanged emails over Schaeffer’s demands for a list of items he needed to retrieve; Gray showed up to get his belongings three days after the disputed firing.

Gray brought with him two paralegals and a husband of one of the paralegals, the board report says. One paralegal accused Schaeffer of “touching” her, spurring her husband to run up the stairs. Schaeffer called 911. At first he reported “an emergency situation, altercation,” the report said, then repeatedly told the dispatcher of a “hostage situation.”

Seven to 10 police officers responded to the call, some of them armed with rifles and semi-automatic weapons. The hearing panel acknowledged substantial confusion, but found there was no hostage situation.

Schaeffer was not immediately available for comment.

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