Legal Ethics

Judge claims lawyer threatened to release her intimate photos for case leverage; he alleges extortion

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Two Florida lawsuits filed last Thursday trade allegations of a threat to release a judge’s “intimate” photos and a $10 million “extortionate” demand for prelawsuit settlement.

The suits involve two South Florida law firms that have previously “butted heads,” the Daily Business Review reports.

The suit filed on behalf of West Palm Beach Circuit Judge Marni Bryson alleges a representative sent by the Conrad & Scherer law firm had threatened to release intimate photographs of Bryson in 2014 unless she acquiesced to her ex-husband’s demands in their divorce case.

Conrad & Scherer was representing the girlfriend of Bryson’s ex-husband. The suit says Bryson acquiesced to the demands and did not subpoena her ex-husband’s girlfriend.

At first, Bryson couldn’t recall any intimate photographs, the suit says. She later realized the intimate photos had chronicled her pregnancy. She seeks damages and an injunction banning release of the photos.

In another lawsuit, filed hours before Bryson’s suit, Conrad & Scherer alleges that the firm representing Bryson had demanded $10 million in an email to prevent Bryson from filing her suit. The email was sent April 11 by Paul Turner, a partner with Perlman, Bajandas, Yevoli & Albright.

The Conrad & Scherer suit says Turner and his firm “attempt to classify this three-day, $10,000,000 payment as a ‘settlement demand,’ but the email and the complaint, with its bizarre allegations, bespeak extortion.”

The defendants “are attempting to use their law licenses as weapons to engage in illegal and extortionate threats to destroy the reputation of a lawyer and a law firm that have been established in the South Florida legal community for over 45 years,” the suit says.

The suit, which claims abuse of process, sought an injunction to prevent Bryson’s suit from being filed. A lawyer representing Conrad & Scherer, Bruce Rogow, told the Daily Business Review that he intends to refer the matter to prosecutors. He called the allegations in Bryson’s suit “strange” and “they are untrue.”

Turner, on the other hand, told the Daily Business Review that Conrad & Scherer’s suit was a failed attempt to stop the allegations from being made public. “This was a failed, Hail Mary attempt to keep the judge’s lawsuit from being filed,” Turner said.

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