Posted Jul 03, 2013 03:49 pm CDT
A Connecticut lawyer lawyer who made headlines in 2010 by filing more than 500 disciplinary complaints against attorneys nationwide over their payments to a bankruptcy website for Internet advertising is now in hot water himself.
Zenas Zelotes, who focuses his practice on bankruptcy, has had his Connecticut law license suspended for five months, beginning Aug. 1. However, because his practice puts him in federal court rather than state court, and he is also licensed in Nevada, he says the suspension won’t affect his business, reports the Norwich Bulletin.
“On Aug. 2, my doors will be open as usual,” he told the newspaper.
At issue in the ethics case against Zelotes was the lawyer’s relationship with a married woman he represented as a divorce client in Connecticut. Zelotes contended the judge in the ethics case improperly imposed a personal standard of morality on his conduct, which he contends not only was proper but actually improved his representation of his client.
“I’ve been waiting years to get this in front of a federal judge,” said Zelotes. “The opposition may be leading at halftime, but I’m going to win the game. This case is much bigger than me.”
His plan is to wait for reciprocal disciplinary action to be taken in federal court over his federal bar admissions, then fight the case there on constitutional grounds. His argument is that the ethics sanction interferes with his right of free association, explains the Connecticut Law Tribune.
“We have our right to exercise our First Amendment rights,” he told the legal publication. “Every attorney should be concerned about this [ruling]. What it says is, we can punish you for anything we want.”
The office of disciplinary counsel had sought a five-year suspension for Zelotes in the legal ethics case, arguing that he was not sufficiently sorry about his conduct.
ABAJournal.com: “Ethics Win for Lawyers Who Paid for Leads from Total Attorneys Site”
ABAJournal.com: “Client In Love Relationship with Lawyer Gets Better Representation, Lawyer Argues”
Norwich Bulletin: “Norwich lawyer scolds colleagues’ Web advertising”