Lawyer reprimanded after he used profanities while declaring himself best advocate in courtroom
Updated: A Virginia lawyer has been publicly reprimanded after allegedly using profanities in an email to a probation officer who miscalculated sentencing guidelines for one of his clients.
According to the findings of fact, Burgin had thanked probation officer Kellie Woods when she acknowledged her error in a September 2021 email and apologized. At that time, Burgin said there was no problem.
But Burgin’s tone changed in court in October 2021, when his client’s issue came before the court, Woods told the Virginia State Bar. Burgin “became angry and aggressive with her during cross examination,” according to the findings of fact that are based on Woods’ allegations.
The next day, Burgin sent Woods an email that read: “Don’t f- - - around with me or one of my clients again. I will always be the best f- - -ing attorney in the court room. Try and pull that kind of s- - - again and you will be begging to get off the witness stand.”
The public reprimand was part of an agreed disposition. According to the Seventh District Subcommittee, Burgin’s conduct violated ethics rules regarding fairness to parties, respect for the rights of third persons, and acts that adversely reflect on a lawyer’s fitness to practice law.
Conditions of the reprimand require Burgin to schedule an evaluation with the Judges and Lawyers Assistance Program, enter into a contract with the program and abide by its terms, complete four extra hours of continuing legal education in ethics, and provide an apology to Woods.
Burgin gave this statement to the ABA Journal: “I respect the decision of the bar, and I ultimately agreed to a public reprimand because I did not wish to put my wife and children through anything further. Around the time the email was sent, I was working long hours at my previous firm, coming home to a sick child, running off of little to no sleep, and my wife had recently went through her third miscarriage, on top of other factors that led to my overreaction. Although that is no excuse for the harsh language that was used towards Ms. Woods, I acted completely out of character, and for that, I apologize. That email is not a reflection of me as an attorney or as a person.”
Update June 16 at 7:40 p.m. to include comment from Aaron Michael Burgin.