A state panel that regulates attorney conduct cautioned a Crossett lawyer for her conduct in a civil case in which she attached to a motion an article that referred to the judge handling the case as a “certified moron,” “ethical gnome,” “knucklehead,” “schmuck,” “dimwit,” and “big time dumbass.”
In a seven-page order filed on November 13, a panel of the Arkansas Supreme Court Committee on Professional Conduct found that Gayle D. Zimmerman’s filing seeking Judge Phillip Shirron’s recusal contained false statements or statements made with reckless disregard for their accuracy concerning the integrity of a judge, and the attachment of the article served no purpose and was intended for the purpose of disrupting the court.
Shirron, who was appointed to a civil case in 2012 after all of the circuit judges in the 10th judicial district recused, attempted to contact Zimmerman in an effort to get copies of the defendant’s pleadings. However, he was uable to reach her. He got a message saying that she was “not accepting calls at the time.” So, he sent her a letter telling her that he had been unable to reach her by phone and asking that she send him copies of the pleadings and a telephone number where she could be reached. He also told her that he would not waste his time in the future making multiple attempts to contact her at a time when she may be accepting calls.
Zimmerman subsequently sought Shirron’s recusal. In her motion for Shirron’s recusal, Zimmerman said Shirron’s letter to her was “unprofessional, demeaning, sarcastic, and totally unprovoked” and that he had “engaged in outrageous, unprofessional conduct in the past.”
To support her claim, she attached to her motion two exhibits: a copy of a 2004 appellate opinion in a rape case that was reversed and remanded because Shirron allowed his wife to sit on the jury and an article from a web blog called The Committee to Expose Dishonest and Incompetent Judges, Attorneys and Public Officials. In that article, Shirron is referred to as a “certified moron,” “ethical gnome,” “knucklehead,” “schmuck,” “dimwit,” and “big time dumbass.”
The panel concluded that Zimmerman’s conduct violated Arkansas Rules of Professional Conduct.
Zimmerman’s caution by the panel falls at the low end of sanctions the panel can impose. The caution was based, in part, on the fact that she had no disciplinary record.
Read the panel’s Findings and Order for more details about what led to the caution.