find the latest legal job
Senior Associate - Litigation & Dispute Resolution
Category: Litigation and Dispute Resolution | Location: Melbourne CBD & Inner Suburbs Melbourne VIC
· Come work for a firm ranked in Lawyers Weekly Top 25 Attraction Firms
View details
Associate - Workplace Relations & Safety
Category: Industrial Relations and Employment Law | Location: Brisbane CBD & Inner Suburbs Brisbane QLD
· Employer of choice · Strong team culture
View details
Freelance Lawyers
Category: Banking and Finance Law | Location: All Perth WA
· Freelance opportunities through Vario from Pinsent Masons
View details
Freelance Lawyers
Category: Other | Location: All Adelaide SA
· • Qualified lawyer with a strong academic background
View details
Freelance Lawyers
Category: Other | Location: All Melbourne VIC
· • Qualified lawyer with a strong academic background
View details
Lawyer strikes the wrong note

Lawyer strikes the wrong note

A lawyer in America has been suspended from practice after his ploy to sway a judge by insulting Canadians backfired.

Folklaw was blown away to hear Thomas McGrath’s claim that he was simply “blowing off steam” when he scrawled this grammatically-appalling note to a judge: “Your decision is going to effect [sic] American's [sic] -- How [sic] are you going to trust & believe -- a [sic] alien or a US citizen.”

McGrath employed the cheap tactic in a desperate attempt to defend his wife's business, the Chiropractic Wellness Center (CWC), based in Newcastle, Washington, against a former employee who quit to set-up her own shop.

Annoyed at former employee and Canadian citizen Katherine Ellison’s departure, the CWC alleged unfair competition and "breach of the duty of loyalty", the Seattle Weekly reported. Those claims were thrown out in 2007, but Ellison hit back with a counter-claim that eventually paid her a $500,000 award.

Ellison claimed CWC was recruiting Canadians, changing their terms of employment and warning that their working visa and impending licensing would be jeopardised if they did not accept the terms.

Clearly CWC’s ‘wellness’ didn’t extend to how they treated their employees. Folklaw can only hope Rinehart has no such tricks in mind for any skilled Kiwi workers landing in the Pilbara. 

As litigation turned sour, with recurring battles over Ellison's discovery requests, McGrath scrawled another note, in case the spirit of his first was unclear, to flesh out his argument: “How many jobs do we give to aliens like Dr. Ellison: She was schooled here in the US and refuses to become a US citizen. She needs to go back to Canada. In that regard, I am asking the Court to freeze all of her assets pending the outcome of this case.”

Apparently, despite CWC's alleged practice of recruiting ‘alien’ Canadians, McGrath (who is also the centre's corporate secretary) has some heated emotions about the Canucks.

Astonishingly, the state Supreme Court judge did not follow McGrath’s secretive counsel. Instead, he filed a complaint with the Washington State Bar Association.

When the association deemed the notes inappropriate, McGrath challenged, saying he was “just blowing off steam".

The association was unsympathetic. It emphasised the USA’s immigrant history, recounted Ellison's shock at seeing the letters and McGrath's repeated failure to comply with basic discovery processes during the trial in ordering his 18-month suspension.

According to Seattle Weekly, this is not the first time McGrath has “blown off steam” and ended up being suspended from practice. He did worse than passing a derogatory note in a court of law in the 1980s, when he was convicted of assault with a deadly weapon. Following that conviction, he was reinstated as a lawyer in 1993.

Like this story? Read more:

QLS condemns actions of disgraced lawyer as ‘stain on the profession’

NSW proposes big justice reforms to target risk of reoffending

The legal budget breakdown 2017

Lawyer strikes the wrong note
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
microphone
Oct 20 2017
Podcast: One of law’s most infamous alumni – in conversation with Julian Morrow
In this episode of The Lawyers Weekly Show, Melissa Coade is joined by The Chaser’s Julian Morrow....
protest
Oct 20 2017
High Court overturns ‘excessive’ anti-protest legislation
Bob Brown’s recent victory in the High Court over the Tasmanian government was a win for fundament...
Blocked
Oct 20 2017
Changes to Australian citizenship laws blocked
Attempts to beef up the requirements to obtain Australian citizenship were thwarted this week, after...
APPOINTMENTS
Allens managing partner Richard Spurio, image courtesy Allens' website
Jun 21 2017
Promo season at Allens
A group of lawyers at Allens have received promotions across its PNG and Australian offices. ...
May 11 2017
Partner exits for in-house role
A Victorian lawyer has left the partnership of a national firm to start a new gig with state governm...
Esteban Gomez
May 11 2017
National firm recruits ‘major asset’
A national law firm has announced it has appointed a new corporate partner who brings over 15 years'...
opinion
Nicole Rich
May 16 2017
Access to justice for young transgender Australians
Reform is looming for the process that young transgender Australians and their families must current...
Geoff Roberson
May 11 2017
The lighter side of the law: when law and comedy collide
On the face of it, there doesn’t seem to be much that is amusing about the law, writes Geoff Rober...
Help
May 10 2017
Advocate’s immunity – without fear or without favour but not both
On 29 March 2017, the High Court handed down its decision in David Kendirjian v Eugene Lepore & ...