Yesterday we reported on the Thomas Hyland letter in support of his firm’s position in the Wilson Elser Legal Malpractice case. Today, a bar association rejoinder. This second letter is not directed to the arguments that WEMED made, but to the entire concept of arguing the merits of a law suit in the letters to the Editor venue.:
"Letter to the Editor
Letter Is Disservice To Bench and Bar
New York Law Journal
April 11, 2007
I write with reference to the letter published on April 9, 2007, from Thomas W. Highland of Wilson Elser Moskowitz Edelman & Dicker. I am disturbed both by the fact of Mr. Highland’s letter and by its contents. The letter itself takes exception with no statement contained in an April 5 story to which the letter purports to respond. Indeed, that story reports the Wilson Elser firm’s disappointment with the court’s decision. But, Mr. Highland’s letter goes beyond that perfectly natural response. He offers a one sided, condensed version of the arguments he says he looks "forward to presenting . . . to a higher court," together with the citation of cases and rehashing of evidence. His letter seems more appropriate for an appellate brief rather than a letter to the editor.
I believe that such letters, especially from lawyers associated with a case pending in the courts, are inappropriate for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is the potential threat they pose to judicial independence. As a lawyer, Mr. Highland is presumably aware that his criticism of the judge cannot be answered by the judge herself because of ethical constraints upon a judge’s comments about pending cases. In that sense, the letter is patently unfair to the judge because it was composed with knowledge that the judge would not and could not respond in kind. I hope that Wilson Elser’s adversaries refrain from submitting some counter-letter for publication because such partisan sparring in the press detracts from the independence of the bench, the role of appellate courts, and the dignity of the organized bar.
I hope that no members of the judiciary will be deterred from "calling them like they see them" by the potential threat of litigants or their lawyers presenting their one sided views to the media about pending or impending litigation. I urge all members of the bar to refrain from writing or circulating such letters during the course of litigation in which they are so clearly partisans. Such letters as that April 9 letter are a far cry from the scholarly and thoughtful commentary by objective lawyers, for which the Law Journal is esteemed to publish. That sort of commentary is a service to both the bench and the bar. I submit that the April 9 letter is disservice to both.
Edwin David Robertson
The author is president of the New York County Lawyers’ Association. "