The ABA Journal reports today that the Missouri Supreme Court suspended a lawyer for using the information obtained by the lawyer’s divorce client, who obtained the information by accessing the wife’s email without permission (husband guessed his wife’s email password). The information obtained included:
- current payroll documents of wife; and
- a list of direct examination questions prepared by wife’s lawyer.
The court found that the lawyer violated the following Missouri Rules of Professional Conduct:
- Rule 4-4.4(a), which prohibits a lawyer from using “methods of obtaining evidence that violate the legal rights” of a third party;
- Rule 4-8.4(c) which prohibits a lawyer from engaging “in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation;”
- Rule 4-3.4(a) which provides, in part, that a lawyer shall not “unlawfully obstruct another party’s access to evidence or unlawfully alter, destroy, or conceal a document or other material having potential evidentiary value;” and
- Rule 4-8.4(d), which prohibits a lawyer from engaging “in conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice.”
The court noted that the lawyer had been disciplined five times previously.
You can find the opinion here.