/ March 10, 2009

Disbarment Recommended for Lawyer/Juror Who Switched His Vote (To go Back to Work)

The California Bar Court Review Department is recommending that attorney Francis T. Fahy be disbarred for switching his vote during deliberations so he could get back to his practice.  The civil trial was a medical negligence case following an ophthalmologist’s laser eye surgery.  As deliberations went into the second week, Fahy reportedly promised other jurors he would change his vote from for the plaintiff to for the defendant so they could all go home.

San Francisco Superior Court Judge David Ballati questioned the jurors after the foreperson stated that some had changed their votes to end deliberations – Fahy told the judge that his vote was based completely on the evidence.  At a hearing for a new trial, the plaintiff’s attorney presented a signed document from Fahy admitting that he’d changed his vote just so he could go home.  (Fahy admits that the signature is his, but does not admit to signing the document).

The State Bar Court writes: “The purposes of disciplinary proceedings are not to punish, but to protect the courts, the public and the legal profession from those members of the bar who are unwilling to discharge their duties ethically….Manifestly, looking at [Fahy’s] prior and current proceedings, he has demonstrated that clients, courts and the legal profession are at risk of future harm should be allowed to continue to practice.”

Click here to read the board’s decision.

Fahy has filed a federal civil rights suit against the California Supreme Court.

Source: ABA Journal and Metropolitan News Enterprise

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