Showing posts with label attorney ethics. Show all posts
Showing posts with label attorney ethics. Show all posts

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Perjuring Priest Bob Malm: The Legal Client From Hell

Having been served Requests for Admission last Thursday (Ascension Day), perjuring priest Bob Malm may well be trying to hire defense counsel in one or more jurisdictions. That said, my advice to potential defense counsel is simple: Look before you leap.

Having practiced law for a number of years, and having represented a range of clients, including a couple real humdingers who were both violent and profoundly mentally ill, the one thing I learned was the perils of taking on bad clients. Some issues in the lawyer/client relationship could be managed; others could not. And in cases where problems could not be managed successfully, some really unpalatable options arose.

I’m thinking particularly of the perils of representing a client who lies. While this is not an uncommon thing, it is vital that the client be willing and able to tell his or her defense counsel the truth. Otherwise, the attorney runs the risk of being blindsided in court. 

Even worse is the sinking feeling that hits when one realizes that one has been defending a fraud. When that happens, defense counsel winds up having to refuse to proffer evidence, having to correct past testimony, or having to seek the court’s permission to withdraw from representation,

Worst of all is the situation some attorneys find themselves in, which is when they wind up in the situation previously occupied by Jeff “Sugarland” Chiow. Too close to the situation to be objective, Sugarland wound up damaging his own reputation by proffering unprofessional pleadings laden with inflammatory rhetoric, false statements of law and fact, utterly inept legal research, atrocious legal writing, a total lack of proofreading, and ethically questionable conduct by both attorney and client. Indeed, at one point Sugarland phoned defense counsel and allegedly unleashed a string of childish profanity straight out of junior high school. 

Of course, these shortcomings on Sugarland’s part also caused lasting damage to his client and related parties. And should Sugarland ever decide to repeat his ill-advised venture into civil litigation within Virginia, it’s likely that judicatories and members of the local bar alike will regard Sugarland with skepticism. And in the meantime, it’s a safe bet that Sugarland’s conduct is doing nothing to help Grace Church maintain its increasingly tenuous toehold in the local faith community.

So, my advice to potential defense counsel is this: Be sure not only that perjuring priest Bob Malm is telling you the truth, but also the whole truth and nothing but the truth. My belief is that perjuring priest Bob Malm is a master of manipulation, deceit, and duplicity, and very willing to mislead even those closest to him. Indeed, the glib manner in which he lied in front of Bishop Shannon Johnston by telling me during a meeting with the bishop, “Having resigned from the vestry, you were no longer eligible to serve as a trustee,” is profoundly troubling, especially since Bob’s own written chronology of events contradicts him. For Bob the motto seems to be, “Different audience, different story,” with no recognition that inventing reality on the spur of the moment is bound to cause problems for him.

The alternative is for prospective defense counsel to run the risk of assisting perjuring priest Bob Malm in his efforts to perpetrate a fraud on the courts. This does no one, including perjuring priest Bob Malm himself, any favors.

One final suggestion: Given Bob’s propensity for fiction, defense counsel would be well advised to see firsthand evidence to support perjuring priest Bob Malm’s claims. A good starting point would be to ask Bob about his assertion that my Mom or someone purporting to be her repeatedly set up appointments with him and cancelled. How did she set them up? Where are the calendars, emails, phone billing records, and other evidence that this happened? Can I see them? How many times did Ms. Yahner or someone claiming to be her set up appointments with you? Who else can substantiate your claim?

Such a line of questioning will make very clear exactly what sort of prospective client the attorney  has on her hands.


Sunday, September 2, 2018

Jeff, Where’s that Emergency?

When Bob Malm’s attorney, Jeff “Sugarland” Chiow (named after a fictitious church shooting at an equally fictitious town in Texas, invented by Jeff for inclusion in his legal documents) filed his recent motion to the Alexandria Circuit Court, he captioned the motion as an “emergency.” Why? Apparently because I have decided to withdraw my appeal and let Dysfunctional Bob’s actions speak for themselves.

That interesting question: Shouldn’t there be a second “emergency” motion to correct the lies Jeff told in his motion? One certainly would think so.

As I stated in the attorney disciplinary complaints I filed against Jeff in multiple jurisdictions, Jeff told myriad lies in his motion, the most egregious being three:
  1. That I have violated the existing protective order.
  2. That I did not previously serve as a police officer.
  3. That I had not been admitted to the Pennsylvania bar.
I have addressed all three in my motion offered in response to Jeff’s motion, including documentation that his claims are lies.

What’s noteworthy about these lies is that Jeff could have easily Googled the relevant issues to ascertain the accuracy of his claims. Having included these lies in his motion, I am forced to conclude one of two things:
  1. Either Jeff did his research, but figured that his “wall of lies” was sufficiently robust that, like Hitler and his “Big Lie” theory, he could make his lies stick, or
  2. Jeff had another “Sugarland” moment, and just made something up because it was convenient and sounded good, indifferent to whether it’s true or not.
Either way, Jeff has a legal and ethical obligation to correct the false statements in his motion. Given that he thinks the withdrawal of an appeal constitutes an “emergency,” the fact that we have yet to see Jeff making a beeline to the clerk of the court suggests that Jeff is not prepared to act with integrity in this matter. Just another layer of proof in the ever-burdgeoning mountain of evidence that St. Dysfunction aka Grace Church is toxic.

As for Jeff, the sloppy legal work is bad enough, but this is over the top, even for him.

But, as the various disciplinary entities look at this case, I suspect they may realize that this case was, from the get-go, a frivolous matter, and that Jeff lacked the professional integrity to decline representation, instead attempting to rely on lies, mischaracterizations and bullying behavior to make a case out of whole cloth. Especially if the disciplinary boards subpoena Jeff’s behind-the-scenes correspondence, things will get ugly in a hurry.

And if Jeff is looking for a settlement agreement to get him out of this mess of his own creation, I can say this with certainty: It’s not happening.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Jeff Chiow and Disciplinary Rule 3.3’s Duty of Remediation

Jeff “Sugarland” Chiow’s recent motion before the Alexandria Circuit Court, in which he lies by telling the Circuit Court that I have violated the relevant protective order, and by claiming that I was neither a police officer nor a licensed attorney, raises some interesting questions under the attorney disciplinary rules. Most notably, it implicates an attorney’s obligation to take remedial measures when she or he comes to know that false evidence has been proferred.

Pursuant to rule 3.3, an attorney may neither mislead the court through a material statement of law or fact, nor knowingly permit a client to do so. The latter can be tricky, for it may conflict with the attorney’s obligation to maintain client confidences. In such cases, attorneys typically must counsel their client as to the potential implications of the falsehood, and may be required to withdraw from representation if the client does not heed those admonitions.

In the instant case, I already have provided documentation on this blog that Jeff’s claims about my bar admission and service as a police officer are false. He’s also on notice that his claim that I violated the restraining order is false, and that I have filed attorney disciplinary complaints against him. 

Thus, Jeff now has a second obligation, which is to inform the court in writing that his prior representations were false. Given the seriousness of the issue, I would think that a second “emergency” motion would be forthcoming, probably sometime early today. Admitting to this is both a legal obligation on his part, and a practical one, for both the court and the various disciplinary boards are likely to view the matter with more leniency if Jeff takes action to correct the situation. 
Will Jeff take these obligations seriously and retract the lies he has told to the court? I doubt it. 

My take on things, which I have discussed previously, is that Jeff is far too close to the issue to be an effective attorney. Or, to use Jeff’s language, his “rantings and ravings” indicate he has lost all sense of his ethical obligations, as well as the independent judgment required of attorneys. He loudly proclaims his belief that I’m a liar, all the while sandwiching his claims between multiple lies of his own. In other words, the whole thing has become an appalling example of what happens when an attorney gets too caught up in his own case and comes to think that the ends justify the means. Of course, in the process, any notion of Christian conduct has gone out the window.

This sort of desensitization to the ethical component of one’s actions is exactly what you see in war time, when othewise honest members of the military behave badly, whether it’s the Mai Lai Massacre, or throwing helpless puppies over cliffs. In short, it is incumbent on men and women of integrity, when they see themselves moving in this direction, to recognize the dangers ahead of them, and take steps to back away before they do harm. 

I have the suspicion, too, that Jeff’s misconduct goes further. Based on the emails I have obtained that he failed to provide during discovery, and the content that he has chosen to redact in other discovery items, I believe Jeff knows, for example, that it was Lindsey Malm who contacted the police in an effort to shut down a post on Fairfax Underground that she didn’t like. In other words, I think that Jeff knows full well that this is a non-meritorious claim, but he’s been resisting providing discovery materials that would make this clear to the tribunal.

Unfortunately for Jeff and his client, he’s now fallen into his own trap. He’s stuck with the result, and the disciplinary cases are moving forward. And there’s no hope that the underlying conflict will be resolved, since by law Dysfunctional Bob and I cannot communicate, and I certainly will not negotiate through Jeff Chiow, given his myriad instances of inappropriate behavior.

Things sure are a hot mess on Planet Malm.


Wednesday, August 29, 2018

See for Yourself: Disciplinary Complaint Filed Against Jeff Chiow

As promised, attached is a copy of one of the disciplinary complaints filed against Jeff “Sugarland” Chiow. Similar complaints have been filed in other jurisdictions.

In addition to Jeff’s various inflammatory, misleading and prejudicial remarks, he falsely tells the court that there have been violations of the current protective order. But nowhere does he show that I have had any contact with Bob Malm, or that I have come anywhere close to him, the church, or any member of Bob’s family. Nor have I stated that I intend to do so, or made any effort to do so. See page 7 for the specific language in which Jeff attempts to mislead the court. Moreover, the protective order does not address blogging, nor can it do so under the First Amendment. 

Jeff also conveniently omits the fact that he still has not complied with the court’s order to specify which blog entries he believes to be threatening, despite the fact we’re now seven months into litigation. Thus, Jeff has not only used dilatory tactics throughout the case, but his entire modus operandi has been one based on obstructionist, harassing behavior. Nor has he supplemented discovery by updating emails and other non-privileged items that his client is required to produce. Indeed, the motions court appears to have reminded plaintiff that his failure to cooperate in discovery has hindered my ability to defend the case. Moreover, I have discovered multiple instances where Chiow has failed to produce relevant, non-privileged records during discovery, as well as multiple cases where he has improperly redacted materials.

And, of course, there are Jeff’s lies about my service as a police officer, and having been licensed as an attorney. My guess is that Jeff will contend that he made a misstatement, or didn’t find the information, or some other bogus explanation. The reality is, however, that when an attorney signs his or her name to a pleading, they are stating under oath that they have conducted due diligence and there is a reasonable basis for their pleadings. Thus, one cannot simply shrug and say, “My bad.”

Then, of course, there’s his effort to obtain discovery in Pennsylvania, which does not permit discovery in such cases. Either Jeff stumbled into court there totally clueless, or he knew that discovery wasn’t permitted but tried to pull a fast one on the court. Given Jeff’s track record thus far, I bet I know which of the two it is, and let’s just say I wouldn’t put money down on Jeff’s personal or professional ethics.

I’d be really curious too: Jeff mentions a civil marriage involving me, but I know of no such event at St. Dysfunction, aka Grace Episcopal Church. Perhaps he’d care to enlighten me. Or is this another of his “Sugarland” moments, where Jeff just makes something up because it sounds good? 

Once again, just the sort of thing one should expect from Jeff “Sugarland” Chiow, Dysfunctional Bob and the good Christians of St. Dysfunction Church, aka Grace Episcopal Church. Small wonder people are taking a pass, both on the parish and on the larger Episcopal Church.

Caveat emptor.


Monday, August 20, 2018

See for Yourself: Jeff Chiow’s Motion for Reconsideration

As part of their continuing effort to drag my mother, dying of COPD, into court, Bob Malm and Jeff Chiow filed a Motion for Reconsideration in the Venango County Court of Common Pleas, which I have included below. In addition to the ethical aspect of going after a woman who is dying, there are a number of issues with this motion:

  1. Jeff’s pleadings fail to comply with the relevant Rules of Civil Procedure. While it is not in my best interest to provide Jeff with a primer on the rules by referencing specifics, there are multiple issues with his pleadings. My belief: Jeff’s pleadings are either done carelessly, and in haste, or with an eye to sidestepping the requirements of the courts. Thus, Jeff’s assertion that his subpoena of Mom is valid is, at best, troubling.
  2. As mentioned before, for various reasons it’s disingenuous to argue that Mom’s attorney didn’t call Jeff to try to work things out, not the least of which is that Jeff does not appear to have made any effort to reach out to Mom’s attorney to discuss scheduling. Having failed to extend even this most basic aspect of professional courtesy, why on this green earth would Jeff feel that he was subsequently entitled to consultation?
  3. The argument that he may soon be deprived of Mom’s testimony falls in the same category. Having waited months to pursue Mom’s testimony, why should the Pennsylvania court accommodate Jeff’s failure to plan?
  4. The entire pleading is, I believe, an effort to deceive the court, as Virginia law requires that a petitioner demonstrate that a protective order is necessary to protect against a reasonably held threat of imminent physical harm. Even if Mom’s postings qualified as a threat — which they certainly don’t — there’s no showing of imminence. Thus, who assisted Mom with her blogging is irrelevant.
  5. Jeff falsely tells the court that I own Mom’s blog. I do not, and he has presented no evidence to the contrary.
  6. Through his associate, Ms. Rodin, Jeff continues with the inflammatory, prejudicial rhetoric, including his allegation that this is a case of “domestic terrorism,” and referring to blogging as “terrorizing and harassing.” Such mischaracterizations have no place in the ethical practice of law and improperly interfere with the administration of justice.
  7. As he’s done before, Jeff takes the word “terrorism” out of a post he allegedly found on Mom’s blog, and does so by taking it out of context, thus changing the meaning. In so doing, Jeff fails in his duty of candor to the tribunal. 
Later this fall, I will publish documentation of additional questionable behavior on Jeff’s part, including his references to a fictitious church shooting in Texas, in an equally fictitious town. That’s problematic, as the law is clear: An attorney who signs a legal document represents to the court that the factual contentions “have evidentiary support,” to use the phrase from the Federal Rules.

The #fakechristians of St. Dysfunction aka Grace Episcopal Church strike again.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Further Questions About Jeff Chiow’s Potential Ethics Issues

In an earlier post, I shared one attorney’s thoughts regarding Jeff Chiow’s conduct in this matter. Specifically, an attorney familiar with the case stated his opinion that Jeff is pursuing a personal vendetta. That raises the question: Are there larger ethics issues involved for Jeff Chiow and his representation of St. Dysfunction, aka Grace Episcopal Church and Dysfunctional Bob Malm? I believe the answer is yes.

Under the ABA model rules of professional responsibilities, which serve as the basis for the state rules of professional responsibility that regulate attorney conduct, there are several provisions that may apply.

Pursuant to rule 4.1, for example, there is an obligation to be truthful in statements to others. In relevant part, it provides:
In the course of representing a client a lawyer shall not knowingly:
(a) make a false statement of material fact or law to a third person;
That is difficult to reconcile with the language of several documents prepared by Jeff, including one that references a purported church shooting in a nonexistent town in Texas, or his claims that he was unaware that my mother is quite ill, or his statements that I left the church on my own after resigning from the vestry. (If the latter is true, why then did Bob Malm need to send an email directing me to obtain a letter of transfer? And why include Mike in that email? My belief: Jeff is either incredibly dumb, or he’s dishonest, or both.)

Similarly, having practiced law for a number of years, we must assume that Jeff understands basic legal concepts and terminology. In that context, Jeff repeatedly contends that somehow blogging about someone is harassment. That’s another curious proposition, since 1) Under Virginia law, harassment requires direct contact with the victim, either in person, or by phone, text, or email. 2) Jeff presumably understands that, under the First Amendment, bloggers receive the same constitutional protections as other journalists. Think about it: Were repeated blogging about a particular topic grounds for harassment, major media outlets, like Time and CNN, would have been convicted long ago of harassing Donald Trump (an outcome of which the latter would no doubt approve — but I digress).

One can then turn to his assertions that Mom’s collective pseudonyms are somehow a threat. But threat jurisprudence is well established; to not be protected under the First Amendment, language must be a clear threat. That’s a very high standard, and court cases are replete with situations in which the courts have protected even facially troubling language.

Relatedly, Jeff tries to run roughshod over the First Amendment right to anonymity by repeatedly suggesting that there is something nefarious about Mom’s use of a collective pseudonym. But anonymity and pseudonymity are well-established rights, dating back to the framers of the Constitution and including the Federalist Papers, Deep Throat, and many other high water marks in our constitutional scheme of governance. As an attorney, Jeff either knows this, or should know it. (If not, we then enter into the realm of professional incompetence, which would mean that Jeff has an ethics issue, but from another angle.)

One then bumps into the issues, previously discussed, with Jeff’s use of inflammatory language in his legal writing, referring to “ranting and raving,” “domestic terrorism,” “ceaseless harassment” and more. Such conduct is, I believe, highly inappropriate for an officer of the court, and undermines respect for our legal system. This is reflected in Rule 8.4(d), which forbids conduct “prejudicial to the administration of justice.”

Underpinning all of this is a baseline issue, which is Jeff’s obligation to only pursue meritorious claims. In this regard, Rule 3.1 provides: 
A lawyer shall not bring or defend a proceeding, or assert or controvert an issue therein, unless there is a basis in law and fact for doing so that is not frivolous, which includes a good faith argument for an extension, modification or reversal of existing law.
Having already discussed the various problems with Jeff’s case, Rule 3.1 suggests that Jeff is, at best, on thin ice. This view is bolstered by the comments of the third party attorney, who stated the belief that Jeff is “coming at [me] with a personal vendetta.” That speaks to motive and judgment, and in both, Jeff’s actions and conduct are questionable.

Of course, as an avid reader of my blog, Jeff at this point has had ample opportunity to consider his position and his professional ethics, as well as his personal ethics as a purported Christian. He’s also had plenty of time to consider the implications of his actions for his clients and the reputational damage he is causing. So at this point, we can only wait and see. But my opinion is this: At this juncture, there is no outcome in which Jeff’s clients are better off than they were before Bob Malm’s stupid — and unethical — decision to revive our dispute.

To use two words Bob Malm (a paragon of appropriate clergy conduct, if there ever was one) likes to use in reference to me: 


Saturday, August 4, 2018

See for Yourself: One Attorney’s Comments About Jeff Chiow’s Conduct

In a previous post, I discussed the fact that I am not the first person to note a lack of professionalism in the conduct of Bob Malm’s attorney, Jeff Chiow.

Here is what one attorney, familiar with the case, says:

Chalk up another one for the good Christians of St. Dysfunction Grace Episcopal Church and Dysfunctional Bob.