Attorney Suspended After Intimate Relationship With Client

Zenas Zelotes, a Connecticut lawyer who had an intimate relationship with a client, has been suspended from the practice of law for five months. Superior Court Judge Frank D'Andrea Jr. handed down the decision June 28, noting that the suspension must begin August 1.

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What's being said

  • Zenas Zelotes, Esq.

    Sensationalism aside ... what this contest is fundamentally about whether and to what extent courts can punish private citizens for exercising guaranteed federal rights under the guise of attorney regulation. This is not a case where I asked a random client out on a date. This is a case in which a girlfriend with -- whom I had an existing non-sexual relationship (intimate relationship) -- asked me to intervene in her divorce and represent her. More to the point -- the court is sanctioning me not for what I did in a courtroom -- but for what I did in a kitchen -- on a date. Regardless of the private views of the court -- the time place and manner in which I pursue an intimate relationship is personal conduct beyond the lawful scope of attorney regulation. The US District Court has made clear that punishment under RPC 8.4(4) must be based on clear and meaningful standards of which I have fair notice. The subjective moral sensibilities of a judge does not satisfy the requirements of due process. The moral turpitude standard -- applied in this case -- has been rejected by every high court in the nation. This ruling will not survive federal or appellate scrutiny. I also take issue concerning the alleged RPC 1.7 violation. The court has held that the mere existence of an non-sexual intimate relationship is sufficient to satisfy a RPC 1.7 violation. There was absolutely NO critique concerning my courtroom performance. I performed exceptionally. No attorney in Connecticut history has EVER been adjudged to have violated RPC 1.7 by mere virtue of a pre-existing intimate relationship. Which is ironic -- since RPC 1.8(j) expressly contemplates the propriety of a pre-existing sexual relationship. So what are we to make of this? That is it acceptable to maintain a pre-existing sexual relationship with a client as long as the sex is meaningless ... but if you actually care about the woman and you are not having sex ... that's professional misconduct? It is incomprehensible. Applying this court's reasoning -- any husband who represents his wife -- no less commits professional misconduct (by virtue of their intimate relationship) and subject to suspension. This is what this fight is about. This is not a Casanova love story. I am fighting to defend our civil liberties. We did not check our Constitutional rights at the door when we took the attorneys oath. Sensationalize it all you want ... at the end of the day ... I am not defending myself ... I am fighting to safeguard our Constitutional rights to fair notice, due process and intimate association. No apologies. No remorse. Not ever.

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