At Liestoppers Meeting Walter Abbott’s posted documents concerning a grievance he filed last September with the NC State Bar.
Abbott’s grievance cited allegations in a federal civil rights suit complaint filing which allege Duke University's dean of students Sue Wasiiolek, an attorney licensed by the State Bar, “advised the players that they should not hire lawyers and that they should not tell anyone, including their parents, about the rape allegations. As one player recalled:“[R]ight now you don’t need an attorney. Just don’t tell anyone, including your teammates or parents, and cooperate with police if they contact you.” (italics in filing)
Abbott’s grievance was based on Rule 4.3 of the Bar’s Rules of Professional Conduct: Dealing with Unrepresented Person.
Rule 4.3 states:
In dealing on behalf of a client with a person who is not represented by counsel, a lawyer shall not:In a letter to Abbott dated Dec. 19, 2008 James Fox, chair of the Bar’s grievance committee wrote that he and a Bar staff attorney had concluded “the available information did not show that the attorney’s conduct violated Rules of Professional Conduct. The grievance was therefore dismissed.”
(a) give legal advice to the person, other than the advice to secure counsel, if the lawyer knows or reasonably should know that the interests of such person are or have a reasonable possibility of being in conflict with the interests of the client; and
(b) state or imply that the lawyer is disinterested. When the lawyer knows or reasonably should know that the unrepresented person misunderstands the lawyer's role in the matter, the lawyer shall make reasonable efforts to correct the misunderstanding.
Regarding the Bar’s dismissal of Abbott’s grievance, the key phrase we should all keep in mind is “the available information.”
If the plaintiff suit filing upon which Abbott relied when filing his grievance with the State Bar proceeds to discovery, as I think it likely will, Wasiolek will be deposed and asked about the allegations upon which Abbott based his grievance.
Also deposed and questioned concerning those allegations will certainly be the students who say they were so advised by Dean Wasiolek as well as J. Wesley Covington, an attorney whom the students say Wasiolek advised them to rely on and who himself is a defendant in two suits brought by victims of the Duke/Durham frame-up attempt and cover-up.
The allegations concerning Wasiolek surfaced three years ago. Neither she nor Duke has, as far as I know, ever explicitly and publicly denied them.
That doesn’t mean the allegations are true. But it does leave reasonable people wondering why Wasiolek and Duke wouldn’t explicitly and publicly deny the allegations if they were false.
Easy call: The State Bar’s dismissal of Abbott’s grievance is not the last we'll hear of the allegations.
Hunch: It’s also not the last the State Bar will hear of them.
What do you think?