Well, this is shockingly ugly and covers several different areas of the law including divorce law, personal injury law, and criminal law. According to the lawsuit, a judge was pulled into chambers to discuss a matter with a high-profile attorney. The attorney turned out to be her former husband’s divorce attorney who threatened to disseminate naked photos of the judge during her reelection campaign. The attorney was attempting to leverage the judge into walking away from a custody case concerning the couple’s child. The judge acquiesced to the demand but later sued for intentional infliction of emotional distress. A recent court decision allows the judge to pursue punitive damages against the lawyer. That means that she will be able to recover three times whatever award she is given by a jury.
Analyzing the criminal elements of the case
Firstly, we don’t do personal injury law here, but lawsuits involving intentional infliction of emotional distress are nearly impossible to win. The plaintiff must show that the defendant’s conduct was so shocking and unconscionable that it shakes the very foundations of American morality. Personal injury lawyers tend not to pursue these types of cases because they are nearly impossible to win.
Nonetheless, what the lawyer did and threatened to do was a crime. Florida Statutes 784.049 identifies this as sexual cyber harassment. In the context of criminal law, it is considered a misdemeanor. But the same statute that outlines criminal penalties for those who disseminate intimate photos also supplies those who have been threatened with a means of recovering damages for the intentional infliction of emotional distress.
So even though emotional distress lawsuits are nearly impossible to win, the criminal statute of sexual cyberharassment provides a remedy for those who have had their intimate photos disseminated in a public forum.
Analyzing the administrative elements
Much like a DUI, this crime has several elements. Firstly, there is a criminal element. Second, there is a civil element. And third, because the accused party is a lawyer, there will be an administrative element. In other words, the bar will review the lawyer’s conduct to determine if he did anything wrong, and of course, he did.
However, the statute that allows for personal injury recovery may not apply to this case because no nude photos were ever disseminated and further, it is unclear that the photographs were of the judge and not some other party who bore a resemblance.
The attorney facing these accusations denies any such conduct and states that neither he nor anyone at his firm represented the plaintiff or her former husband. Rather, the lawyer was representing a married woman who had an affair with her ex-husband. According to the lawyer, the judge became aware of the other woman and began harassing her and then began dating the mistress’s husband. The lawyer claims the judge sent the mistress’s husband nude photos and that is where the nude photos came from. Either way, it’s extortion to threaten to disseminate the photos and illegal to actually disseminate the photos.
Talk to a West Palm Beach Criminal Defense Attorney
The Skier Law Firm, P.A. represents those charged with crimes. Call our West Palm Beach criminal attorneys today to schedule an appointment and we can begin discussing your options immediately.