This month saw a well-known Clayton law firm, the Hais Law Firm, embroiled in controversy over the unauthorized use of an opponent’s e-mails in divorce litigation.  The case stems from a custody dispute that was conducted before the Hon. Barbara Wallace in St. Louis County in March 2011.  At that time, the Court was shocked to find out that the Hais Law firm had used unauthorized e-mails that had been hacked by Hais’ client.  Judge Wallace found in her Order that the Haises had knowingly utilized the e-mails and therefore ordered $25,000.00 in monetary sanctions.  The Haises appealed the Order and it was reversed by the Missouri Court of Appeals in February 2012.

Notwithstanding the reversal of the sanctions order, the Office of the Chief Disciplinary Counsel, the disciplinary arm of the Supreme Court, opened its own investigation into the e-mail charges as well as several other complaints against the Hais Law firm.  The case gained notoriety because the Office of the Chief Disciplinary Counsel attempted to conduct the hearing in secret, but Missouri Lawyer’s Weekly filed a motion with the Supreme Court of Missouri and successfully gained access to the rescheduled hearing.  The matter has yet to be decided.

The Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel is the organization sanctioned by the Supreme Court to regulate the discipline and conduct of attorneys.  They investigate many situations such as complaints about lawyers’ lack of diligence, lawyers’ mishandling of client funds and lawyers’ candor with the court system.  Disciplinary proceedings are now open to the public and if an Information is filed against an attorney, they can face reprimand, suspension or, ultimately, disbarment.

If you think you have been harmed by an attorney that you hired in the past, please contact The Meehan Law Firm and we can discuss your options.