Legal Ethics

Lawyer Awaits Verdict in Barratry Trial Over 'Subpoena' Sent to Opposing Party


A felony charge against attorney William McCool for allegedly improperly obtaining financial information was dismissed earlier this week by a Washington state judge.

But the Walla Walla practitioner is still waiting for Superior Court Judge Richard Miller to render his verdict on a misdemeanor barratry charge, reports the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin. Miller, who sits in Adams County, was brought in as a special judge to hear the Walla Walla County case.

The unusual case now revolves around a “subpoena” that McCool sent, on behalf of a client—who was, at the time, also his girlfriend—to an executive of a now-defunct magazine concerning an advertising dispute.

McCool testified that he had an assistant draw up the document, which hadn’t been authorized by a court and didn’t include any purported docket number. However, he said he didn’t intend either to misrepresent it as an actual subpoena or do anything wrong, the newspaper reports.

Ordinarily a criminal defense practitioner, he handled the civil matter as a favor to his girlfriend, McCool testified. “But I wouldn’t have broken the law for her,” he told the judge.

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