Legal Ethics

Lawyer’s Impatience as a Juror Could Lead to Disbarment

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A San Francisco lawyer faces possible disbarment over accusations that he switched his vote while serving as a juror so he could end deliberations and return to his law practice.

California’s Bar Court Review Department is recommending that the lawyer, Francis T. Fahy, be disbarred for his actions in a 2004 medical case involving laser eye surgery, according to the Daily Journal (sub. req.) and the Metropolitan News-Enterprise.

A hearing officer found that Fahy told other jurors he would switch his vote to favor the defendant to end a jury deadlock if the trial judge failed to declare a mistrial. Fahy then followed through with his vow, according to the state bar.

Fahy denied that he had signed a statement admitting to the switched vote, although he acknowledged the signature appeared to be his, according to the News-Enterprise. The lawyer representing the plaintiff in the medical case testified he had drafted the declaration with Fahy’s input and obtained the signature from the lawyer after driving to his house, the story says.

It’s not Fahy’s first brush with the attorney discipline system. He was placed on a two-year suspension in 2007 for misappropriating more than $2,700 in client trust funds.

Rather than appearing contrite, Fahy is going on the offensive. He has filed a federal civil rights suit against the California Supreme Court, state bar lawyers and judges with the state bar court, according to the Review Department opinion.

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