November 23, 2011

Virginia Lawyer Hit with Record Sanction for Hiding an E-mail

When a lawyer hides a critical e-mail advising a client to hide Facebook postings that will hurt his personal injury case, you have to wonder what he was thinking. Matthew Murray knew what he was doing and clearly knew he had violated his ethical duties – what other reason could there be for suppressing such a damning e-mail?

Virginia Lawyers Weekly reported that a judge has imposed a $542,000 sanction against Murray. Murray has brought shame to his profession – or what used to be his profession. He not only left his law firm (Allen, Allen, Allen and Allen) but also the practice of law. To be fair to his former firm, there is no evidence that it was aware of his misconduct.

Did he think he wouldn’t get caught? Was it hubris? Was it zeal to win and win big? We may never know.

I can only tell you that I am mortified that a Virginia attorney would stray so far from his ethical obligations. Some readers may know that I will become the President-Elect of the Virignia State Bar in June of 2012. One thing I hope to achieve during my years of leadership is renewing a strong commitment by Virginia lawyers to the integrity of our profession, something all of us should hold dear. Our ethical rules are not in place to be followed when convenient.

Given the choice between taking the high road and losing a case or the low road and winning it – well, there just isn’t a choice at all, is there?

E-mail: Phone: 703-359-0700

Posted on November 23, 2011 at 10:00 AM | Permalink

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