The Florida Supreme Court has drawn a line in the sand: you can be “professional and aggressive” but not “obnoxious.”
They recently disbarred plaintiffs lawyer Robert Ratiner for “escalating misconduct,” which included loudly kicking a table, disrupting a court proceeding, and muttering “lie, lie, lie” during testimony. It was the third incident by Ratiner in the course of a case against DuPont, and the justices decided disbarment was the appropriate punishment.
“Ratiner’s intentional and egregious misconduct continues to demonstrate an attitude that is wholly inconsistent with professional standards, and there is no indication that he is willing to follow the professional ethics of the legal profession,” the justices wrote.
“As we observed in [Fla. Bar v.] Norkin, ‘One can be professional and aggressive without being obnoxious.’”
As Law.com reports, the first misconduct incident occurred in 2007 when, during a deposition, he launched into a tirade against opposing counsel. It was so bad the court reporter even exclaimed, “I can’t work like this!” Then in 2009 he again went after opposing counsel representing DuPont.
In 2009, Ratiner was in a document review session with DuPont when he loudly called opposing counsel a “dominatrix,” with “no substantial purpose other than to embarrass” her, according to the referee. He later tried to forcibly take papers from another female attorney, even after she told him, “Don’t grab [me] ever again.” The incidents led to a three-year suspension.
After the third strike, the Florida Supreme Court decided they were done — the years of “obnoxious” behavior were just too much and Ratiner is no longer barred in the state of Florida.
Source: Above the Law