Legal Ethics

Vote to End Jury Deadlock May Cost Attorney His Law License

A San Francisco attorney is facing potential disbarment because while serving on a jury in 2004, he reportedly cast the deciding vote to end a deadlock simply so that he could return to his law practice.

Earlier this month, a State Bar Court judge in California recommended that Francis Fahy be disbarred, after finding, as the Recorder puts it, that “he had corrupted a jury by casting the deciding vote in a medical malpractice case just so he could get back to work.” The article is reprinted by New York Lawyer (reg. req.).

Among the aggravating factors in Fahy’s case, according to Judge Lucy Armendariz, were that he lied by initially claiming he had cast his deciding vote based on the evidence, and still hasn’t taken responsibility for what he has done, as shown by his argument that he has done nothing wrong. His actions resulted in wasted time for the court, the jury and the lawyers involved, because the case had to be retried, she points out in her ruling.

The California Supreme Court must approve Armendariz’s recommendation before Fahy can be disbarred.

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