File this one under “How are you an attorney and this stupid?” As noted by the Daily Dot, an attorney in Massachusetts got himself into hot water after insulting a convicted sex offender on Facebook; at the time, the attorney was a hearing officer in the sex offender’s case.
The background: The criminal, who was not identified (and thus named Doe), was convicted of a level three sex offense, which meant he had to have an administrative hearing to register as a sex offender. Attorney Tyson Lynch was the hearing examiner in the case and ruled against Doe. The Technology & Marketing Law Blog picked up some of the brilliant things that Lynch said around the time, and during the time, of the hearing:
a. “it’s always awkward when I see one of my pervs in the parking lot after a hearing”;
b. he (the hearing examiner) “likes taking motions under advisement, but gets greater satisfaction denying them”;
c. On November 20, 2008, the day of the plaintiff’s hearing, the following comment was posted during working hours: “it’s always a mistake when people testify, because they get destroyed in cross examination”;
d. On that same day, the day of the plaintiff’s hearing, the hearing examiner also posted the following (apparently with reference to a different sex offender): he (the examiner) “hopes this guy doesn’t show up!!” which was followed up with “Tyson Lynch says yay!! He didn’t show up!”;
e. he “thinks his agency has been the subject of too many news exposes should seek alt career plans?”;
f. he “can’t trust someone who drafts a letter in arial font!”;
g. he “thinks attorneys should know that arial font is not appropriate for motions” followed up with “I might be biased. I think arial is inappropriate for most things”;
h. he “hates silly motions”;
i. he “had to lay some smack down on some crazy attorney!!”;
j. he “is at the longest hearing ever!!!”;
k. The entry above was followed by: he “just sat through a 2.5 hour direct examination! Hearings generally last an hour”;
l. he “is off to jail for the day! Let’s hope he doesn’t get shanked”;
m. The above comment was followed up with “[he] wasn’t stabbed while he was in jail, but with the lax security, I’m surprised it didn’t happen”;
n. “well, they have the convicts cutting down trees, so it might be safer in my car”;
o. “I have a police report written entirely in Spanish!!!”; and
p. he “hates the word ‘lascivious.’
The remarks are obviously insanely dumb, unprofessional and offensive. More to the point, however, is that they showed a potential bias that Lynch had against the offender. The criminal appealed Lynch’s decision, and the appeal was granted, with Lynch’s conduct being slammed as, “unquestionably inappropriate, unprofessional, troubling, and suggestive of a prejudicial predisposition.”
The incident occurred in 2009. In 2011, Lynch took a voluntary lay-off from the Sex Offender Registry Board and is apparently now a real estate agent. That’s probably for the best.
This is an astounding case of stupidity from an attorney – someone who is supposed to know better. The cardinal rule violated in this case was the attorney’s total lack of discretion. In many cases, it’s best to avoid using Social Media to discuss work – period – particularly when what you say can lead to major problems in the real world. Anyone involved in the legal system, including judges, attorneys and jurors, must show that they are unbiased before rendering a ruling. Doing otherwise clearly can result in professional harm and a black eye for the entire legal system.