AZ State Bar Receives Notice of Troubling Issues of Attorney Joe M Romley Mental Fitness, “It’s a Matter of Public Concern.”
An issue that has been drawing some recent national media attention is the mental competency of aging attorneys . The legal profession is NOT immune to the cruel realities of aging. The problem for the general public is the reliance upon the state bar associations’ oversight that those licensed to practice law are actually capable to provide the necessary competence to adequately provide legal representation to their clients. OR, as importantly, some form of protection to opposition litigants from abuses of the judicial processes due to licensed practionerswho simply have become TOO OLD to properly perform the duties of an attorney.
We here at barcomplaint.com have literally monitored and reported on tens of thousands of complaints raised in the plethora of forums available that address the issues raised concerning legal representation problems identifying incompetent and/or “crooked” lawyers. To our recollection we cannot recall a single incident that focused a meaningful complaint addressing circumstances that raised an issue of an attorney accused of demonstrating signs of senility or early stage (or later) dementia or other possible ailments . Why not? Considering the sheer number of practicing attorneys in this country being in the millions, it is simply statistically impossible to NOT be an issue of concern. The fact is it is a subject that is either ignored and/or intentionally buried by those authorized to govern the legal profession – it is an UNCOMFORTABLE SUBJECT. There should be some form of an avenue to broach the subject that would determine an appropriate means to require a mental evaluation. An apropos comparison would be when is it a matter of public safety to withdraw the use of an automobile due to aging issues that can be resolved with the revoking a driver’s license. It is a matter of “public concern.”
Barcomplaint.com was notified of a recent complaint being filed with State Bar of Arizona. The issues involve an “experienced” attorney with 53 years of practicing family law. There have been documented examples of asset division checks for thousands of dollars being received, acknowledged and cashed only to be followed with filings submitted to the courts claiming it never happened. It was irrefutably DOCUMENTED. There were settlement agreements confirmed with the court (filed by the attorney) only to have later filings claiming to the SAME court no that such settlement existed. Apparently the list of circumstances of such occurrences is quite extensive related to the mental condition of the attorney and includes physical issues such as complaining to the judge regarding his ability to approach the podium to present his case and often slurring his words.
The point being addressed in this forum that is believed to be of public interest – how do you deal with an opposition attorney who has clearly lost a step or two (or more) due to the natural cycle of Mother Nature. It is an uncomfortable situation and discussion, but the realities of such circumstances can be grave in any number of ways with significant legal ramifications. The State Bar of Arizona claims on its official website that it’s chief function and duty is to PROTECT the public from “problematic attorneys.” Of course, this is generally perceived as addressing the societal perception of “crooked” attorneys. That certainly is an issue, one covered extensively here. However, what about a more benign situation where the opposition attorney is demonstratively incompetent due to signs of aging – senility and/or dementia. You the client are still responsible and required to respond to Motions filed, accusations of nonpayment, rehashing previously addressed legal matters - etc. All these type of issues come with the realities for the client required to deal with the time, effort and COST of paying for expensive attorney representation to properly handle these matters even when completely meritless. A point here that is being touched on is a client can always fire their own attorney when recognizing age incompetence issues, the opposition litigants are not afforded such an option.
We will be presenting the actual complaint and the issues brought before the State Bar of Arizona after we review the official complaint in it's entirety and verify it's content. . We have been advised the “complaint” is being submitted also as a “public awareness” as the subject of age incompetence of licensed attorneys should be addressed – “It’s a matter of public concern.”
We will update this article and post the original complaint in a few days so check back.
UPDATE: CONCERN FILED WITH THE ARIZONA STATE BAR