Is This How Willis Carto Does Business?
No. 92-0041 & 92-2122
(JOSEPH ALFRED IZEN, JR.)
Bar No. Z00183
By Supreme Court Order dated March 13, 1997, Joseph Alfred Izen, Jr., of 5222 Sprice, Bellaire, Texas 88401-9999, was censured for conduct in violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct.
Izen, an attorney admitted to the State Bar of Texas, was admitted pro hac vice to practice in Arizona in a matter entitled Patricia Hedges Beckett V. Newport Escrow Co. During the appeal in that matter, Izen filed documents containing frivolous and unsubstantiated statements and disparaging remarks about judges and opposing counsel. Two of Izen’s motions contained numerous derogatory remarks about the appellate judges. They included statements that (1) the judges were “abysmally ignorant” concerning the law of warranties, (2) while on the bench, two of the judges gambled on the outcome of the case, (3) they exhibited bias and prejudice against Izen and his clients, (4) their decision was motivated at least in part by their desire to protect and/or aid the trial court judge, (5) one of the judges was not competent to hear the case, and (6) their findings were disingenuous and less than candid.
The Hearing Committee found, and the Disciplinary Commission concurred, that calling judges “abysmally ignorant” was unprofessional, but did not rise to the level of an ethical violation. The remaining statements, however, were found to constitute ethical violations. The gambling accusation was not based on Izen’s personal knowledge but on information provided to him by his client, and Izen made no effort to verify the accuracy of the claims. Despite repeated statements that he was ready to prove his accusations of bias and prejudice, Izen made no attempt to prove the accuracy of the remaining allegations. Izen was found to have acted with reckless disregard for the truth or falsity of the information and frivolously included the above statements in his motions solely for the purpose of calling the integrity of the judges into question. In addition, Izen failed to pay a $2,500 penalty imposed by the Arizona Supreme Court in connection with the Beckett matter.
Izen’s conduct was in violation of ER 3.1, ER 8.2(a), Supreme Court Rules 41(c), and 51(e) & (k). Izen was also assessed the State Bar’s costs in the amount of $1,496.02.