Judge tells lawyer who sent ‘eat a bowl of dicks’ emails the profession doesn’t need him
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A show-cause hearing began badly and then got worse for a California lawyer who told opposing counsel in an email to “eat a bowl of dicks.”
The lawyer, Christopher Hook, had been ordered to show cause why he shouldn’t be sanctioned for a string of insulting and expletive-laden missives sent to opposing lawyers in an insurance coverage dispute with Allstate.
But Hook appeared to be missing when the hearing started at 1:30 p.m. Monday before U.S. District Judge Otis Wright, report the Recorder and Law360.
The hearing began without him. Hook’s now-former clients told Wright that they had no idea that Hook was sending emails that labeled Allstate’s lawyers from Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton as “gay boys,” “shit for brains,” “f- - -face” and “f- - -tard.”
Some emails went beyond insults. Hook told one lawyer “I know where you live” and said in another email that he would “go bat shit crazy” on the lawyers.
After hearing from Hook’s former clients—who are now represented by Barnes & Thornburg—Wright agreed that he wouldn’t dismiss their case against Allstate. At that point, Hook stood up from the courtroom audience.
Wright appeared angry, according to Law360. “Were you hiding?” Wright asked. “Were you waiting to make a fashionable entrance?”
Hook said he had arrived before the hearing began and apologized. But civil minutes filed in the case said Hook did not arrive to court until 1:37 p.m. “The court speaks with Mr. Hook about his lateness to the hearing and his unprofessional behavior as stated on the record,” the minutes said.
The minutes left out the hearing fireworks, as reported by Law360 and the Recorder.
Law360 reported that Wright slammed his hands on the bench and said he had never seen such behavior. According to the Recorder, Wright pounded his fist and demanded to know when Hook had apologized in writing to the court, as he asserted in court papers.
Hook continued to maintain that the emails could not be authenticated, prompting a warning from Wright, according to the Recorder. “This is not the day to be cute,” he said. “And I am not the guy.”
Hook said the emails were designed to get Allstate to discuss a settlement, but he became angry when Allstate lawyers wouldn’t return his phone calls.
Hook said he failed to conduct himself in a professional manner, and it was a mistake. But he also said the emails were protected by the First Amendment and the litigation privilege.
“You honestly believe the First Amendment extends to anything?” Wright replied. “You did go to law school, right?”
Wright told Hook that he had threatened people, and he had been acting like a gangster, the articles reported.
Wright said to Hook the legal profession does not need him. “I am going to do what I can to remove you from this profession.”
Wright asked Hook to give up his law license. “I will not do that,” Hook replied.
“Shut up,” Wright replied. “I want you to resign from this profession.”
Wright asked Sheppard Mullin lawyers to detail the fees and costs that they are seeking from Hook. “We’re out of here,” Wright said as he ended the hearing.
The plaintiffs once represented by Hook are seeking to recover from Allstate for a water loss that forced them from their home in September 2018. Hook made a series of increasing settlement demands, according to Hook’s emails, submitted to the court by the Sheppard Mullin lawyers. Above the Law broke the initial story.
Hook sent some of the emails after Sheppard Mullin lawyer Marc Feldman said Hook’s $125 million settlement demand was counterproductive in a case involving a $200,000 dispute.
“I understand the position you are in,” Hook replied. “I’m going to let the long dick of the law f- - - Allstate for all of us.”
The next day, Hook wrote, “Hey Klee you Cumstain the demand is now 302 million. Pay up f- - -face,” Hook was referring to Sheppard Mullin lawyer Peter Klee. Later that day, Hook wrote, “Peter when you are done felating your copy boy tell Allstate the demand is now 305 million.”
The “eat a bowl of dicks” email read: “Haha. F- - - you crooks. Eat a bowl of dicks.”