A Colorado lawyer who referred to a judge as a “gay fat fag” has been ordered to undertake cultural sensitivity training.
According to documents released from an administrative tribunal, Denver lawyer Robert E Abrams was reported by his own clients in a construction dispute after he sent them an email deriding judge Phillip Douglass, who was presiding over the case.
Lawyer called judge a ‘gay, fat fag’ in email to his clients.
In the message, he wrote: “The judge hates me. It happens, it’s not the first time. I probably remind him of someone who beat him up [when he] was a fat kid and now that he’s a big fat judge he gets even w/ the bullies. Maybe he just hates Jews, who knows?”
He added: ” While I was getting your case dismissed… I was getting yelled at by Fatso. The judge is a gay, fat, fag, now it’s out there.”
Challenged over his use of the homophobic term during his disciplinary hearing, Abrams said: “That’s how the bullies talked to the weaklings when I grew up.” He claimed that the insults describe a “sissy”, not a “sex preference”.
His filings argued: “Respondent is simply not a politically correct individual, and will never be politically correct because of his background, where and when he was raised, and life experiences… of which Respondent is proud.”
Abrams also denied he has “bias against homosexuals”, asking his gay cousin to testify of their “warm familial relationship” and citing his work representing gay Denver nightclub Tracks.
Judge slams ‘schoolyard conduct’.
However, judge William Lucero, the presiding disciplinary judge, ruled that he had breached professional standards.
The opinion states: “In his private life, respondent is free to speak in whatever manner he chooses. When representing clients, however, respondent must put aside the schoolyard code of conduct and adhere to professional standards.
“Just as our language, norms of social engagement, and the rules of professional conduct evolve, so too must respondent. This is because lawyers’ words and deeds reflect on the values and ideals of today’s legal profession.
“Lawyers are also officers of the court, so their conduct signals to clients the quality of justice and the measure of fairness that can be expected from the legal system as a whole.
“That system is meant to serve all and dispense justice equally, without regard to race, gender, religion, national origin, disability, age, sexual orientation, or socioeconomic status; when lawyers represent that system, their conduct must give effect to those principles.”
The judge ordered Abrams to complete cultural sensitivity training but stayed a three month suspension, provisional upon “the successful completion of an eighteen-month probationary period”.
Abrams has said he is appealing the ethics decision, telling the American Bar Association journal: “In my opinion, there was absolutely no clear and convincing evidence from the exhibits at trial that I exhibited any bias whatsoever. The whole thing is just obnoxiously political correctness.”