Legal Ethics

Tenn. Prosecutor Resigns, NY Judge Loses License over Relationship with Defendant

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An explosion of embarrassing news lately about claimed sexual and relationship misconduct by lawyers in positions of authority has cost two their careers.

A longtime Tennessee prosecutor has resigned, after a female defendant in a felony drug case provided text and voice mail messages to support her claims that he had requested sexual favors, according to the Associated Press and the Kingsport Times-News. Assistant Hawkins County Attorney General Doug Godbee, 57, had been asked to step down by the state attorney general from his job of 30 years.

And a married New York traffic court judge had his law license suspended for three years. Michael Dorsky, 60, “not only acted improperly in pursuing a personal relationship with the subject of an administrative hearing over which he presided,” says a New York State Appellate Division opinion, “but also engaged in a selective view of the evidence presented at [his disciplinary] hearing, ignored prior warnings about ex parte communications” from his employer, the state Department of Motor Vehicles, “and made false denials about his conduct to the Inspector General’s office.”

Dorsky also lost his job of nearly 20 years as an administrative law judge hearing traffic cases in Nassau County, reports the New York Law Journal.

In Wisconsin, a county district attorney is refusing to step down and has taken a medical leave concerning accusations by two women that he sexually harassed them in connection with court matters, as detailed in a previous post:

As Gov Leans on Wis. DA in Sext Case, AG Says Lawyer Discipline Group Didn’t Do Its Job

Two courts also recently disciplined lawyers for having an affair with a client’s wife. The South Carolina Supreme Court said it is a per se legal ethics violation to do so, and a Michigan attorney discipline board slapped a lawyer with a three-year suspension for doing so. (Two dissenting members of the board said he should have been disbarred.)

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