Attorney Has Spent Seven Years Fighting Six-Month Suspension

, The Connecticut Law Tribune


While visiting family in Connecticut, he was pulled over in Windham County for speeding. Instead of paying the $148 fine, Williams pleaded not guilty and provided authorities with a post office box number in Hong Kong. He instructed them to direct all correspondence relating to the traffic offense to that address. The post office box was closed, and he didn't show up for a hearing for which authorities said they sent him notice.

Williams was subsequently stopped in Connecticut and charged with driving with a suspended driver's license. He appeared in court, where the suspended license infraction and the failure to appear at the speeding ticket hearing charge were combined.

His traffic case was originally assigned to Judge Michael E. Riley in the Windham Judicial District. When an evidentiary hearing was scheduled to determine if proper notice — about both the speeding ticket hearing and subsequent license suspension — had in fact been sent to Williams, he sent a letter to the Deputy Chief Clerk of Court in Danielson.

In that letter, Williams wrote "that it was obvious a mistake was made by the Clerk's Office, and that the notices were not sent to the correct address." Beyond that, Williams wrote, ethical problems could arise if the clerk was to work with the prosecutors' office in the matter. He added: "You should consider whether you wish to obtain independent legal counsel."

The letter was brought to the attention of Judge Frances Foley III, the administrative judge for the Windham J.D. Foley moved for disciplinary actions against Williams. At one hearing, the judge admonished Williams. According to court records, Foley said the attorney had given the clerk's office "unsolicited legal advice" and that Williams had improperly suggested the conduct of the state's attorney's office was unethical.

For those things, Foley said, "you have failed to follow the rules laid down in the Practice Book."

In the grievance case that followed, Williams was found guilty of violating a handful of rules, including Practice Book Rule 4.4, which states a lawyer cannot "use means that have no substantial purpose other than to embarrass, delay or burden" another person.

Due Process Complaints

After Connecticut suspended Williams, other states where he was licensed followed suit.

He is challenging his punishment on several grounds. First, he claims that the state misinterpreted the Practice Book rule used to justify his punishment, and that his rights were violated during the disciplinary process because he wasn't allowed to question his accusers or call witnesses.

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