We all know that lawyers can be disciplined for conduct outside of the practice of law; and we all know that criminal conduct outside the practice of law will likely result in discipline. But whether lawyers can or should be subject to discipline for non-criminal, yet somehow "bad" conduct, is not always clear.
Typically, rules or cases limit discipline for non criminal/non professional conduct to conduct that in some way shows the lawyer should not be trusted to do what lawyers typically do.
Which brings me to today's post. A few days ago, several outlets reported that the Florida Bar has opened an investigation into the conduct of a lawyer who "shooed" a raccoon off his boat after finding the animal had stowed away on board. Given that the boat was 20 miles from the coast and that I am not sure raccoons can swim that well, the presumption is that the raccoon did not survive.
Oh, and if this happened on a boat 20 miles out to sea, how did we come to know about it? Well, the lawyer thought it would be a good idea to post a video of the incident on social media in which you can hear someone (presumably the lawyer) using profanity and then laughing at the poor raccoon yelling "so long sucker" when it fell in the water.
If there is a crime here, then the first paragraph of this post applies and that will be that. Yet, for the sake of argument, let's assume that there is no crime. Let's say there's simply ...whatever you want to call what the video shows (cruelty, stupidity, profanity, obnoxiousness... ??). Is this the type of conduct for which a lawyer should be disciplined? It may say something about the person, but does it say something about the lawyer as a lawyer? Should there be a difference?
How do these facts compare to cases in which lawyers have acted foolishly or abusively in public while intoxicated? ... or taken money from trusts when serving as trustees but not as lawyers?... or expressed obnoxious, even racist ideas, ... or engaged in other conduct outside the practice of law?
You can read more about this particular story here, and here.