According to the Vermont Professional Responsibility Board, a nine-month suspension is the appropriate penalty for a lawyer who brandished a gun in response to COVID-19 safety measures.
Back in May, we told you about lawyer Carrie Legus, who was accused of getting angry over a homemade sign at Butch’s Harvest’ore in Walden, Vermont, that promoted social distancing and safety. After allegedly shaking the sign, a store worker says Legus pulled out a gun. She allegedly told police she thought the sign at the store was a barricade behind which people were shooting at the road. According to police, she yelled that “everyone on the road is the military” and “her ex-husband was behind all this.”
As reported by ABA Journal, Legus’s… obstinance didn’t end at the store. Her interactions with the disciplinary counsel also raised a few eyebrows:
She answered essentially every question by citing the Fifth Amendment or indicating that “you have my response.” Some testimony was disrespectful, the hearing board said. As an example, the board cited Legus’ response to one question: “Are you asking me to do pushups?”
She stopped the interview when her computer’s battery was running down. She refused an offer to go to another location where she could plug in her computer or to continue using cellphone audio.
Legus did not have a Fifth Amendment right to decline to be interviewed, the hearing board said.
“In order to make a proper assertion of her Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination,” the board said, Legus “had to sit for an interview and, during the course of the interview, raise objections to specific questions.”
Every instance in which Legus was nonresponsive to questions constituted a violation of an ethics rule requiring lawyers in disciplinary matters to respond to lawful demands for information, the hearing board said. The board had scheduled the interview after Legus evaded prior requests for an in-person or video hearing.
The board added that it didn’t assign any relevance to Legus’ refusal to answer specific questions, however, because a court had not ruled on the validity of her Fifth Amendment assertions.
Legus’ failure to cooperate with interview requests violated her duty of cooperation with the disciplinary counsel, the hearing board said.
The decisions of the hearing board is appealable, though it is unclear at this time if Legus intends to do so. She’s been on interim suspension since May 2020.
Kathryn Rubino is a Senior Editor at Above the Law, host of The Jabot podcast, and co-host of Thinking Like A Lawyer. AtL tipsters are the best, so please connect with her. Feel free to email her with any tips, questions, or comments and follow her on Twitter (@Kathryn1).