According to the Courier-Journal, William Gallion's lawyer has been suspended from the practice of law in Tennessee federal court. As a result, he has had to notify the federal court judge in Kentucky of his suspension.
William Gallion, Melbourne Mills and Shirley Cunningham Jr. are charged with one count each of conspiracy to commit wire fraud for allegedly bilking 440 clients out of $46 million in the fen-phen settlement. The ex-clients already have won a $42 million civil judgment against the lawyers for legal malpractice and breach of fiduciary duty to their clients.
"Herbert Moncier of Knoxville, who was to represent William Gallion, disclosed in court papers this week that he has been suspended from practicing in federal court in eastern Tennessee for five years after being found in contempt of court."
It's not yet clear if this will delay the upcoming trial since Gallion is represented by at least two other lawyers, O. Hale Almand Jr. of Macon, Ga., and W. Robert Lotz of Covington.
Moncier was suspended for interrupting the Tennessee judge several times after being warned not to. Based on the length of the suspension (5 years) and the amount of the fine ($5,000) and the fact he is orderd to take anger management classes, I have to believe this was something more than simply a few interruptions.
Entering criminal contempt sanction against an attorney is extremely rare. We'll see if we can find out exactly what happened.
Addendum: Just as we suspected, this was MUCH MUCH more than simply interrupting a federal judge. In an eighty page opinion, the court stated "Unfortunately, the Court is now confronted with one of those rare instances where an attorney admitted to the bar of the Eastern District of Tennessee has failed to “demean [himself] as an attorney, proctor and solicitor of this Court, uprightly and according to law,” as required by his oath; has engaged in unethical conduct tending to bring the court and the bar of the Eastern District
of Tennessee into disrepute; and has engaged in professional misconduct of a nature that violated the Tennessee Rules of Professional Conduct as interpreted and applied by this Court." The federal court goes on to say This case involves an attorney who refused to obey a court order, threatened to abandon a client during a court proceeding, and displayed disrespectful and contemptuous behavior toward the institutional rule of the judge. The gravity of this attorney’s misconduct is exacerbated by his inability to recognize and apologize for his wrongdoings, his frivolous filings with this Court, and other aggravating factors."