Legal Ethics

Top Court Nixes Lawyer's Pro Se Cert Petition Objecting to Public Admonition by 4th Circuit


The nation’s top court has rejected without comment a pro se petition for a writ of certiorari by a New York lawyer publicly admonished by a federal appeals court for his handling of a South Carolina criminal identity theft and wire fraud case.

Called out for what the Richmond, Va.-based 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals described as “a troublesome pattern of carelessness” in a December 2011 opinion (PDF), attorney Thomas Liotti of Long Island fought back, arguing in his petition for review by the U.S. Supreme Court that such sanctions impinge on a lawyer’s duty to advocate zealously for his client, the New York Law Journal reports.

“In the Fourth Circuit, there is a litmus test for survival, namely that one not be a zealous criminal defense lawyer from New York with an ethnic last name,” he wrote in his May cert petition. “In the Fourth Circuit, one is allowed to be good but not too good or disagreeable. Advocacy and free speech are tolerated as long as it does not offend the thin-skinned prosecutors or judges.”

Updated at 12:57 p.m. to link to 4th Circuit opinion.

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