Legal Ethics

Lawyer Suspended Partly for Phone Insults; Panel Discounts His Claim Woman Mistook 'Slug' Comment


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An Arizona lawyer who defended disciplinary charges by claiming he called a woman a “slug” rather than a “slut” has been suspended from law practice.

Meyer Ziman will be suspended for a year, followed by two years of probation, under the order issued by a hearing panel and the Arizona Supreme Court’s presiding disciplinary judge. He was accused of using graphic language to insult medical records personnel in two different phone conversations, the Legal Profession Blog reports. In another incident, he was accused of calling his clients “those f—— people” because of a disagreement, according to the order and opinion.

In the “slut” incident, Ziman was frustrated because of a botched response to his record request, according to the opinion. When asked to refax his request, he allegedly began yelling profanities. According to the employee, she told Ziman, “Excuse me, but you are talking to a lady.” His alleged reply: “You are nothing but a slut that works for a copy service.”

In his defense, according to the panel opinion, Ziman said he used the word “slug” because of the slow and cumbersome process. The panel called the explanation “implausible.”

In another conversation with a medical records employee, Ziman was accused of claiming to be so excited by the prospect of having to call back the next day that he had an orgasm. The employee hung up the phone, but Ziman allegedly called back and identified himself as “Maurie Sieman.” Ziman denied he used that name and said he didn’t remember the comment. In any event, he testified, at age 67 it would have been an impossible undertaking.

The hearing panel rejected Ziman’s claim that his comments were protected by the First Amendment. “Respondent brandishes his opinion as a battering ram, intentionally offending people,” the opinion said. “This panel does not believe these are ‘slips of the tongue’ or inadvertent. Respondent is intentional in his conduct and bull whips people by his words with a zeal. While in private life he may be as rude, offensive and demeaning as he chooses, in his professional life he may not hide behind his First Amendment rights to ignore his sworn responsibilities.”

Ziman did not immediately return a phone message seeking comment.

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