Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Legal Love Triangle Leads to Disorderly Conduct Conviction

In an example of how not to conduct your personal affairs in the office, I blogged about the former Roanoke, Virginia bankruptcy firm whose two partners and their paralegal became embroiled in a very messy and very public spat which resulted in criminal charges filed against attorney Ann Marie Miller.

Today The Roanoke Times reports that Miller was convicted of disorderly conduct arising out of her encounters with her former partner Jeffrey Kessler, who married the paralegal, Jennifer Kelley. Miller escaped any additional jail time with a suspended sentence, but is facing the loss of her law license because of her alleged failure to complete bankruptcy work she had been paid for.

Miller's criminal case was heard in Roanoke County General District Court by substitute Judge Frank Greenwalt and prosecuted by Botetourt County Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney John Alexander, both of whom were brought in because Miller is a member of the local bar association.

Greenwalt extended for two years a protective order that bars Miller from having contact with Kessler and his wife Jennifer Kelley. Kessler and Kelley watched the hearing from the courtroom's spectator benches, and Greenwalt said his advice to both them and to Miller was to let go of their antagonism.

"I don't know any of you and I don't know anything about this except what's in the charges ... Whatever is going on, it's best that it stops and life goes on for all of you," Greenwalt said.

Judge Greenwalt's relationship advice is sound. I hope the parties heed it.

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