Now in Legal Rebels:
Posted Sep 17, 2010 07:49 pm CDT
A Michigan lawyer has received a three-year suspension for having sex with a client’s wife.
Gregory A. Mikat of Fenton, was accused of having an affair with the wife of a man he represented in a separate maintenance action she had filed against his client and then failing to disclose the relationship when his client sought his advice about his suspicions that his wife was being unfaithful.
The client only found out about the relationship after seeking the advice of another lawyer, who hired a private investigator who confirmed the man’s suspicions.
Mikat’s three-year suspension by the Michigan Attorney Discipline Board was upped considerably from the 179-day suspension previously imposed on the lawyer by a hearing panel, the Legal Profession Blog reported.
In its opinion (PDF), the discipline board cited what it said were two aggravating factors that apparently were overlooked by the hearing panel: the emotional vulnerability of Mikat’s client, who had tearfully come to him for advice about his suspicions that his wife was having an affair; and Mikat’s apparent inability or refusal to acknowledge the wrongful nature of his conduct.
It cited Mikat’s testimony at a hearing before the hearing panel in which he apologized both to his client and to his client’s wife, whom he said he may have hurt more than the client.
“With this statement, respondent demonstrated yet again that the loyalty he should have owed to his former client was overshadowed by his feelings for his client’s wife,” the board wrote in its opinion.
The board also ordered Mikat to pay his former client $5,000 in restitution.
The case was one of two disciplinary actions reported this week on the Legal Profession Blog concerning lawyers accused of having sex their clients’ wives. In the other case, the South Carolina Supreme Court issued an anonymous admonition to a unidentified lawyer who admitted having an affair with the wife of a man he represented in three legal matters and stated that having a sexual relationship with the spouse of a current client is a per se ethics violation.