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SCOTUS Denies Attorney Request for Fourth Circuit 'Exorcism'

By Robyn Hagan Cain on August 29, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

It seems that Thomas Liotti was pretty peeved after the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals admonished him in December for five different charges of attorney misconduct.

Some attorneys might have picked up a pint of ice cream, curled up in pajamas, and watched some reality TV to cope with appellate admonishment.

Liotti, on the other hand, filed a petition of certiorari, asking the Supreme Court to benchslap the Fourth Circuit for benchslapping him.

The Supreme Court denied the petition in June, reports New York Law Journal. (Brief thanks, NYLJ!)

The Fourth Circuit asserted that Liotti made factual misrepresentations while representing Jonathan Giannone. (Giannone was accused of identity theft.) Liotti didn't argue with the judges or insult the court's integrity in his response affidavit. He acknowledged that he had made mistakes, apologized, and offered assurances that the mistakes were unintentional.

While the Fourth Circuit panel noted that the attorney misconduct was "isolated event, and ... inconsistent with his otherwise fine career," the judges nonetheless concluded that discipline was proper.

Liotti opted to fight back with perhaps the single greatest petition for certiorari ever, accusing the "checkered" Fourth Circuit of targeting him for being a Yankee with an ethnic surname. Among his choice words about the Richmond-based appellate court, Liotti wrote:

  • Much like a former road sign on I95 which told visitors to North Carolina 'Welcome to Klan Country' or the Rebel flag which still flies in front of South Carolina's capitol, the ruling is a clear warning to New York defense lawyers, especially those with ethnic names, to stay out of that jurisdiction.
  • [The admonition] makes for bad law which cannot be sanitized even by [the Supreme Court] unless completely repudiated by it. Even that may never be enough to chase away the evil spirits that still exist in what remains of the Antebellum South where reconstruction has occurred except in the minds of its jurists and prosecutors. To cancel that, a full judicial exorcism may be required.
  • The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals has become a toy court with make believe jurists who have come to life in this case much like the Wizard of Oz was revealed for all of his pomp, circumstance and cowardliness.

We suspect that Liotti has no plans to appear before the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in the future.

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