Lawyer Tries to Intimidate Seattle Blogger

What is this world coming to when a high-powered attorney to sports stars (and a now-deceased famous talk-radio host) goes on the attack against a lowly blogger?

You see, Bradley Marshall, attorney extraordinaire (well… if you don’t count the recent 18 month suspension of his license) just sent a letter to Seattle liberal blogger and journalist (and friend of mine) Michael Hood at Blatherwatch requesting that Michael yank some old blog posts and cease writing about him.

Michael is certainly not the first blogger to get such requests, but it must be quite the honor for Michael to get a letter from a lawyer of such stature. Marshall’s letter is as interesting as it is error-ridden:

Over the course of the last several years you have published the [sic] “Blatherwatch,” a conservative [sic] political blog site.

Approximately two years ago, you published a defamatory and slanderous [sic] blog [sic] of [sic] the undersigned in connection with a story of the famed talk show host, Mike Webb. Despite Mr. Webb’s demise, you have continued to make disparaging remarks when reminiscing the memory of past times [that's just sic sic sic and completely irrelevant].

The story you published concerning me was inaccurate [sic], denigrating, and placed me in a false light. The purpose of this writing is to formally request that you remove the article from the [sic] BlatherWatch website and cease any further negative reporting concerning the undersigned. Every day that the article remains in the public domain constitutes the continuing harm to my personal and professional standing in the community.

Attached is information that may be of use to you in weighing my request. It is not my desire to seek redress through the courts, but I will do so if you and I are unable to reach an amicable resolution.

Very truly yours,
Bradley R. Marshall

It looks like Marshall has gotten a little rusty in the legal department during the suspension of his law license (discussed below). Slander occurs by the spoken word (orally transmitted and aurally received). Marshall apparently meant “defamatory and libelous“, but why pick nits? Instead, lets analyze whether Mr. Hood has been “inaccurate” and placed Marshall in a “false light.”

I’m guessing that the offending post is this one titled Mike Webb’s attorney no stranger to “dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation.”

Do the terrible words “dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation” make for libel? Hardly. The words come right out of this Discipline Notice from the Washington State Bar Association:

WSBA Bar # 15830
Member Name: Bradley Rowland Marshall
Action: Reprimand
Effective Date: 3/27/1997
[Rules of Professional Conduct]:

  • 3.3 – Candor Toward the Tribunal
  • 4.1 – Truthfulness in Statements to Others
  • 5.3 – Responsibilities Regarding Nonlawyer Assistants
  • 8.4 (a) – Violate the RPCs
  • 8.4 (c) – Dishonesty, Fraud, Deceit or Misrepresentation
  • 8.4 (d) – Conduct Prejudicial to the Administration of Justice

Bradley R. Marshall (WSBA No. 15830, admitted 1986), of Seattle, has been reprimanded pursuant to the Disciplinary Board’s March 27, 1997 order, entered after a disciplinary hearing. The discipline is based upon Marshall’s handling of a case in which he instructed a member of his office staff to sign two declarations without the declarants’ permission and to emulate the declarants’ signatures. Without making any notation that the declarants had not signed these declarations, Marshall filed these declarations with the court. These actions violated RPC 3.3 (a)(1) and (a)(4), RPC 4.1 (a), RPC 5.3, and RPC 8.4 (a), (c), and (d).

Marshall’s client’s case had been dismissed on a summary judgment motion in part because declarations submitted by the client and another witness were not in the proper form. Marshall had his staff prepare amended declarations for his client and the witness, so the declarations would meet the requirements of Civil Rule 56, but did not change the substance of two declarations previously signed by the declarants. He later instructed his staff to sign the two declarations and to emulate the signatures of his client and the witness. He knowingly filed the declarations with the false signatures in support of a motion for reconsideration of an order. There were no notations on the declarations to indicate that the declarants had not signed them, and Marshall did not inform opposing counsel or the judge that the declarants had not signed the declarations. Although Marshall directed his staff to improperly sign declarations, he would not accept personal responsibility for the improper signatures or submitting false information to the court.

The facts offered in the disciplinary notice certainly suggest some sort of “Dishonesty, Fraud, Deceit or Misrepresentation.” I mean…they put it right there on the form. On the web and everything.

So, it probably wasn’t that one. Maybe it was this post that ticked off Marshall, where Michael reported:

Marshall was being sued for sexual harassment by a young, female former employee. They cut a deal: He wrote a check, and she agreed to let the entire file be sealed. It was a quid pro quo- amounting to Marshall buying court-sanctioned secrecy.

But it looks like Michael, ever the consummate journalist, pulled an old newsman trick of summarizing this newspaper article:

Eight years ago, Bradley Marshall, a prominent civil-rights attorney in Seattle, was being sued for sexual harassment by a former employee. Marshall and the woman cut a deal. He handed over a check, and she, in turn, agreed to let the entire file be sealed.

Lawyers call this a quid pro quo: one thing in return for another. Marshall purchased secrecy — with the secret tucked away in a file in King County Superior Court, locked behind a computer password.

Huh…is it possible that Michael exaggerated the details or something? Apparently not if this court document can be trusted. It is the appeal of Jones v. Marshall in which Ms. Jones was suing Mr. Marshall for malpractice after he allegedly abused his position as her attorney to have consensual sex with her.

Melodney Jones sued her former attorney, Bradley Marshall, for attorney malpractice. Jones’s complaint contained the following factual allegations. In 1994, Jones retained Marshall to represent her in a personal injury lawsuit. In the course of discovery, the defendant’s attorney took Jones’s deposition. The attorney asked Jones whether she had been hospitalized during the past year. When Jones balked at explaining why she had been hospitalized, Marshall escorted her from the room and
asked her why she was reluctant. Jones revealed to Marshall the reason for her hospitalization, which concerned “matters of a deeply personal nature.”

In December 1995, Marshall convinced Jones to travel to New York City while he was there on a business trip. Marshall represented to Jones that the two would have separate hotel rooms. When Jones arrived at the hotel, however, she discovered that Marshall had not obtained a separate room for her. The couple proceeded to have sexual intercourse. As a result, Jones became pregnant. She subsequently obtained an abortion.

Jones filed suit against Marshall for professional malpractice. In her complaint, Jones alleged that “through the abuse of his position of authority and the abuse of the information he had obtained through his position as her attorney, Mr. Marshall had sexual intercourse with Ms. Jones.”

That doesn’t seem likely to be the inaccuracy in Michael’s post that inspired accusations of slander libel. But Michael’s post also mentions (strictly by quoting a brief passage from the Seattle Times) another action against Marshall by the Bar Association:

After an investigation, a hearing officer found, among other things, that Marshall shared fees with a non-lawyer, made up a bogus fee schedule and inflated his costs.

He was also found to have failed to properly advise his clients of the risks of pressing their suit.

The hearing officer recommended Marshall return the money and be suspended for two years, but the Bar Association board wanted to disbar him and require restitution of more than $80,000.

Marshall appealed the board’s decision in September 2005 and had his chance before the Supreme Court a year later.

In its 6-3 decision Thursday, the high court upheld most of the findings of the hearing officer but seemed to suggest the punishment was too severe, particularly given that the Bar Association board was not unanimous in its decision.

That all seems to be factual. In fact, you can read the Supreme Court of Washington Disciplinary Hearing text Here. The court concluded that

…suspension, rather than disbarment is appropriate here. Even so, a comparatively long suspension is warranted by the multiple violations and the fact that aggravating factors far outweigh mitigating ones. [...] We therefore impose an 18-month suspension.

That was May 10, 2007.

Ya know…there doesn’t seem to be much to Marshall’s claims that Michael’s writings about him were “inaccurate” and placed him in a “false light.”

And as far as stuff being “defamatory” “slanderous” libelous, and “denigrating”? I think Mr. Marshall’s own actions, (you know, things he has done to put his name in newspapers, public discipline notices, and court cases) have been far more damaging than anything anyone has said written about him.

And…sending veiled threats to bloggers? Not going to help!

  • Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.
  • Trackback URI:
  • Comments RSS 2.0

Comments are closed.

AWSOM Powered