Lawyer Appeals Disciplinary Case That Started With A Speeding Ticket

, 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. But he then closed the post office box, and didn't show up for a hearing for which authorities said they sent him notice.

Williams, who says he didn't get the notices he was supposed to, 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. Williams chose to fight both. "I didn't go about it like a person who knows nothing about the law, and sign the forms they wanted me to sign with a little pencil," he said. "No, I researched the law and I filed motions. How dare I?"

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 early 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 presented with charges of violating a handful of rules in Connecticut, 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.

What's being said

  • Jim B

    I'm dealing with a state agency on a property use issue. I plan to pay the fee and use the little pencil to sign where they tell me to sign.

    The little lawyer voice in my head advises his client, sign quickly, sign neatly.

    The man on the street voice in my head says, be water, be the path of least resistence, sign on the dotted line and pay the fee.

    The independently minded rebel in me says..... Fight another battle where I have nothing to lose and a there is a real chance to right a wrong. Do it this way because It easier to fight for your client, when your head is above water, especially when you are an attorney representing yourself.

    What do they call such a person? I forget.

  • Zenas Zelotes, Esq.

    What a fighter ... a man after my own heart ... I love it!

    Go get em!

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