An attorney accused of using racially offensive words and other derogatory terms to describe judges and other lawyers said it is a forgone conclusion that he will be permanently disbarred.
“They’re railroading me,” Ashton O’Dwyer, Jr. told the Louisiana Record recently.
The Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board last month recommended that O’Dwyer be permanently disbarred. Although the disciplinary board will hear oral arguments in the matter in April, O’Dwyer said he may not even file a formal brief.
“I’ve filled file cabinets with briefs and nobody listens to me,” he said.
If the disciplinary board affirms the decision to permanently disbar him, the Louisiana Supreme Court will consider the matter and issue a final ruling. O’Dwyer said he would incur more expenses defending himself at the Supreme Court, and he may not have the logistical and financial resources to do so. The Supreme Court initially disbarred O’Dwyer in 2009 on an interim basis.
“What good is appealing to the Supreme Court going to do?” O’Dwyer asked. “It’s going to get me absolutely nowhere.”
O’Dwyer said his disbarment is retaliation for his efforts to call attention to corruption and conflicts of interests within the state and federal court systems.
“They crushed me like a bug and they’re still coming after me,” he said. “They unleashed a reign of terror on me that has continued to this day."
The disciplinary board asserted that O’Dwyer sent a number of obscene and racially derogatory emails to court officials and lawyers. The board’s recommendation stated that O’Dwyer continued to behave inappropriately after proceedings to censure him began.
O’Dwyer allegedly sent an email in March 2009 that used a “sexual and offensive nickname” to refer to Louisiana Supreme Court Chief Justice Catherine Kimball. O’Dwyer also allegedly sent other emails in April 2009 that referred to the attorney in charge of conducting his disciplinary hearing as a “pimp,” a “puppet,” an “Uncle Tom” and an “OREO.”
O’Dwyer told the Louisiana Record that he used those words because he was frustrated by his inability to get judges and lawyers to acknowledge corruption and conflicts of interest within the court system and the disciplinary process. He also said that his actions are protected by the First Amendment and that he cannot be disciplined for using unprofessional language.
“I can say whatever I want about anybody,” O’Dwyer said.
The disciplinary board asserted that O’Dwyer had violated several professional rules of conduct, including a prohibition on disruptive behavior and filing frivolous motions. The disciplinary board also asserted that O’Dwyer had engaged in the unauthorized practice of law in 2009. O’Dwyer had been temporarily disbarred and allegedly filed a motion under his brother’s name. The disciplinary board recommended that O’Dwyer be permanently disbarred because of his allegedly egregious disrespect for the authority of state and federal courts.
The disciplinary board, however, also acknowledged that O’Dwyer had been a zealous attorney for more than 40 years.
O’Dwyer studied law at Loyola University and was admitted to the bar in 1971. He specialized in maritime law and represented foreign and domestic ship owners, operators and insurance companies. O’Dwyer had been interested in ships since he was a young boy and took a trans-Atlantic voyage. His grandfather also had been a wireless radio operator at sea.
“Some of the most fun I had practicing law was representing clients from England and from Greece,” O’Dwyer said. “I wouldn’t trade that experience for the world.”
After Hurricane Katrina hit, O’Dwyer said he reinvented himself as an advocate for victims of the flood. His battles with federal judges led to him being barred from practicing law in federal courts in 2008, after he allegedly filed a motion that contained inappropriate and unprofessional language.
“I realize I can be very loud and overbearing, but it was all done to advance my clients’ interests,” O’Dwyer said.
In addition to be being disbarred in both state and federal courts, O’Dwyer also has declared bankruptcy. He also said he was arrested and physically abused by Louisiana State Police troopers in 2005. As a result, O’Dwyer said he now has to use a cane in order to walk.
“I’m living in hell,” O’Dwyer said.