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Was Lawyer’s Rhymed Dec. 23 Riff on ‘Night Before Xmas’ an Ethics Violation? Appeals Court Will Rule

Posted May 7, 2012 6:07 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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Inspired by the holiday season and a nine-year divorce case, an Atlanta attorney sent a 60-line rhymed Dec. 23 email to the special referee and opposing counsel in the case, in response to a fee petition.

But the unusual poetic approach by A. Todd Merolla of Merolla & Gold did not go over well with Kenneth Weinstein, the New York Law Journal reports.

The Long Island attorney asked Special Referee Frank Schellace to hold Merolla in contempt and sanction him for what Weinstein described in court papers as an "outrageously offensive, utterly unprofessional" and "threatening" poem. He also contended in a court filing (PDF) that he couldn't properly respond to a document that flouted the rules of civil procedure in this manner and that this had been but one of many objectionable incidents.

Schellace declined to hold Merolla in contempt, but said in a Feb. 29 order that "whether the offensive, inappropriate and unprofessional 'Poem' rises to the level of an ethical violation, it is for the Grievance Committee, and ultimately the Appellate Division, Second Department, to determine."

Was the poem really that objectionable? Merolla said he did nothing wrong and stands behind every line of the verse. The legal publication provides a link to the rhyming saga, which begins:

"Twas the week before Christmas, in the Matrimonial Part,
All the creatures were stirring, putting their horse in front of the cart.
The fee applications were pending, bills demanding to be paid,
In hopes that Drew's resolve, soon would fade."

Hat tip: Above the Law.

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