Cross Posted at Legal Schnauzer
We long have been critical of lawyers for their failure to regulate themselves. Thanks to an offshoot of the WikiLeaks story, we are about to get another opportunity to see if the legal profession can police a few of its numerous bad actors.
Two watchdog groups have filed a bar complaint against lawyers who allegedly participated in a dirty-tricks campaign on behalf of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Lawyers from the firm Hunton and Williams were found to have engaged in apparent misconduct when the hacktivist group Anonymous leaked more than 70,000 of their e-mails. Anonymous has supported WikiLeaks' efforts to promote transparency in government and business, as have the targeted groups, StopTheChamber.com and VelvetRevolution.us.
Attorney Kevin Zeese filed the complaint with the Board of Professional Responsibility in Washington, D.C., against Hunton and Williams lawyers Richard Wyatt, John Woods and Robert Quackenboss. The Washington Post picked up on the story this morning.
"It is astounding that prominent lawyers from Hunton and Williams would conspire and solicit in writing to commit what seem to be obvious crimes, intentional torts, and ethical violations against reporters, NGOs (non-governmental organization) and unions," Zeese said. "Our complaint shows that Richard Wyatt, John Woods and Robert Quackenboss were willing to cross ethical boundaries to stop us from engaging in protected First Amendment activity.
"The e-mails show that they would stop at nothing to keep us from exposing questionable activities of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Our complaint lays bare for all to see just how egregiously the lawyers violated the Rules of Professional Conduct on behalf of a wealthy client. Not only will this complaint now be reviewed in various legal and law enforcement forums, but other clients and potential clients will get to see what really goes on behind the facade of Hunton and Williams."
How bad was the attorneys' behavior? A news release from StopTheChamber.com spells it out: