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Lawyer who emailed nude film clip to harm ex-intern suspended 3 years

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Indianapolis attorney Arthur J. Usher IV’s rejected romantic advances toward a summer intern led him to have his paralegal email more than 50 attorneys a video clip purporting to depict the former intern nude in a film, according to the Indiana Supreme Court. Usher’s bid to discredit and humiliate her while she was seeking employment resulted in a three-year suspension on Friday.

Usher, who met Jane Doe in 2006 while he was a partner at Bose McKinney & Evans LLP, had moved to Krieg DeVault LLC when the former intern began seeking employment at Bose and elsewhere, according to the 14-page per curiam Supreme Court disciplinary order, In the Matter of Arthur J. Usher, IV, 49S00-1105-DI-298.

“Although (Usher) expressed an interest in having a romantic relationship with Jane Doe, she consistently declined, telling him she wished to remain only friends,” the order said. “In 2008, their relationship began to deteriorate due primarily to (Usher’s) continued pursuit of a romantic relationship.

“In July of 2008, (Usher) asked the producer of a horror movie in which Jane Doe had appeared to help him obtain a clip from another movie in which Jane Doe also appeared. The producer sent (Usher) a clip from that movie that appeared to show Jane Doe in a state of undress,” according to the opinion. “After (Usher) advised Jane Doe of his meeting with the producer, Jane Doe decided to end their friendship. (Usher) then began attempting to humiliate Jane Doe and to interfere with her employment prospects.”

After the former intern accepted a job offer at Bose, Usher provided the film clip to a Bose attorney and “attempted to convince the attorney that Jane Doe’s appearance in a horror film in a state of undress would have an adverse effect on the ability of Bose to retain and/or attract clients. Suspicious of (Usher’s) motives, the attorney did not take (Usher’s) suggestion to send the clip to the firm’s executive committee. Jane Doe commenced her employment with Bose despite (Usher’s) efforts to interfere.”

Usher then had his paralegal go to Kinko’s, establish an email address based on a Bose attorney’s name, and send an email containing the film clip to at least 51 attorneys, many of them at Bose, but others also at Barnes & Thornburg, Baker & Daniels, Locke Reynolds, Ice Miller and Krieg DeVault, the court notes.

According to the order, the email subject line was, “Firm slogan becomes ‘Bose means Snuff Porn Film Business’ w/addition of (Jane Doe).” The email contained contrived dialogue “intended to appear to be an exchange of opinions among lawyers and other fictitious persons,” according to the order.

Usher did this even though he knew Doe hadn’t taken off her clothes for the scene, the court said. “Jane Doe takes pride in her acting and does not hide the fact that she has appeared in a number of films. In a scene in the clip, Jane Doe’s character undresses, but a body-double was used in the part showing nudity. (Usher) was aware of this fact but did not disclose this in the email, leaving the impression that Jane Doe appeared topless in the movie.

“The hearing officer rejected (Usher’s) assertion that the email was a prank or humorous. Rather, it was a mean-spirited and vindictive attempt to embarrass and harm Jane Doe, both personally and professionally,” the court said.

When Kreig DeVault was presented with a protective order that Doe had obtained against Usher, the firm demanded his resignation, according to the order. The court in a footnote acknowledges Doe filed a civil action against Usher that he said was settled “‘amicably’ on the eve of trial with his payment of an undisclosed amount to Jane Doe.”

While four of the justices agreed on a three-year suspension without automatic reinstatement, Justice Stephen David dissented and would have disbarred Usher. The court said Usher “has shown no substantial remorse or insight into his misconduct. It is this lack of insight that leads us to believe that a substantial sanction is necessary.”

Usher, who had been a sole practitioner after he was forced to leave Kreig DeVault, was found to have violated the Indiana Professional Conduct Rules 3.3(a)(1), 8.1(a), 8.1(b), 8.4(a), 8.4(c), and 8.4(d), “by, among other things, engaging in a pervasive pattern of conduct involving dishonesty and misrepresentation that was prejudicial to the administration of justice,” the court said.




 

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  1. I gave tempparry guardship to a friend of my granddaughter in 2012. I went to prison. I had custody. My daughter went to prison to. We are out. My daughter gave me custody but can get her back. She was not order to give me custody . but now we want granddaughter back from friend. She's 14 now. What rights do we have

  2. This sure is not what most who value good governance consider the Rule of Law to entail: "In a letter dated March 2, which Brizzi forwarded to IBJ, the commission dismissed the grievance “on grounds that there is not reasonable cause to believe that you are guilty of misconduct.”" Yet two month later reasonable cause does exist? (Or is the commission forging ahead, the need for reasonable belief be damned? -- A seeming violation of the Rules of Profession Ethics on the part of the commission) Could the rule of law theory cause one to believe that an explanation is in order? Could it be that Hoosier attorneys live under Imperial Law (which is also a t-word that rhymes with infamy) in which the Platonic guardians can do no wrong and never owe the plebeian class any explanation for their powerful actions. (Might makes it right?) Could this be a case of politics directing the commission, as celebrated IU Mauer Professor (the late) Patrick Baude warned was happening 20 years ago in his controversial (whisteblowing) ethics lecture on a quite similar topic: http://www.repository.law.indiana.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1498&context=ilj

  3. I have a case presently pending cert review before the SCOTUS that reveals just how Indiana regulates the bar. I have been denied licensure for life for holding the wrong views and questioning the grand inquisitors as to their duties as to state and federal constitutional due process. True story: https://www.scribd.com/doc/299040839/2016Petitionforcert-to-SCOTUS Shorter, Amici brief serving to frame issue as misuse of govt licensure: https://www.scribd.com/doc/312841269/Thomas-More-Society-Amicus-Brown-v-Ind-Bd-of-Law-Examiners

  4. Here's an idea...how about we MORE heavily regulate the law schools to reduce the surplus of graduates, driving starting salaries up for those new grads, so that we can all pay our insane amount of student loans off in a reasonable amount of time and then be able to afford to do pro bono & low-fee work? I've got friends in other industries, radiology for example, and their schools accept a very limited number of students so there will never be a glut of new grads and everyone's pay stays high. For example, my radiologist friend's school accepted just six new students per year.

  5. I totally agree with John Smith.

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