Attorney found in violation for Krystal meeting
by Jon Gillooly
August 19, 2012 12:16 AM | 3932 views | 3 3 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
MARIETTA — Cobb Superior Court Judge Adele Grubbs ruled that the attorney for Waleed “Lee” Jaraysi violated the rules of the State Bar of Georgia by secretly meeting with Councilman Philip Goldstein at a local Krystal restaurant last fall.

On Oct. 26, the Marietta City Council met with Jaraysi’s attorney, Richard Capriola, to discuss the possible resolution of a years-long lawsuit over an unfinished building. The Jaraysi affair began in 2005 when he started building a wedding hall on South Marietta Parkway near Interstate 75 that was three times larger than the city had authorized.

The City Council rejected the settlement offer at that Oct. 26 meeting and directed city attorney Doug Haynie to negotiate further. Ten minutes after the meeting’s adjournment, however, Jaraysi, Capriola and Goldstein met at a Krystal to discuss the case. Haynie happened to spot the three there when he went through the drive-thru.

“(Georgia Rule of Professional Conduct 4.2a) prohibits an attorney from having any exparte communication with a represented party, its agent or employee,” Grubbs wrote in an Aug. 6 order. “Richard Capriola violated this ethical and professional standard in meeting with Councilman Goldstein to discuss settlement of this case.”

“Contrary to (Capriola’s) position, this was not a councilman meeting with a constituent over constituent issues,” Grubbs writes. “It was a meeting with a councilman of the city which litigation was active by a lawyer for the opposite side of that case to discuss settlement.”

At the time, Councilman Grif Chalfant called Goldstein’s private meeting with a lawyer and client who were suing the city a betrayal, adding that it went beyond a censure or an ethical violation. Goldstein, an attorney himself, insisted he did nothing wrong.

In her order, Grubbs denied the city’s request to remove Capriola from the case, saying that removing him from the case because of the violation of the ethical standard had to be balanced against Jaraysi’s right to freely choose counsel.

“The only thing left in this case is the city’s request for attorney fees,” Haynie said. “We’re required to file that within 45 days from this order, which we will do.”

Paula Frederick, general counsel for the State Bar of Georgia, said the Bar prosecutes violations of Bar Rule 4.2 at the direction of the Investigative Panel of the State Disciplinary Board.

“In order to prove a violation, there must be evidence that a lawyer representing a client in a matter has communicated ‘about the subject of the representation with a person the lawyer knows to be represented by another lawyer in the matter,’” Frederick said.
Comments
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vfp42
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August 20, 2012
Thank goodness that Krystal's was shut down. Who would ever have thought this sort of thing would have happened right here in this neighborhood?
cloclo
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August 19, 2012
It does not seem to me that Goldstein was a party to the lawsuit; the city of Marietta was. Goldstein was not a lay person who could easily be taken advantage of by the other lawyer; Goldstein himself was a lawyer. Unless people "talk" together, there can never be a settlement, and since the attorneys can earn more fees by not settling and prolonging the litigation, it's doubtful they should have the exclusive right to talk settlement. The purpose of the Bar rule is to prevent lawyers from taking advantage of people in a position of inferiority, and that's definitely not the position Goldstein was in, if you know Goldstein.
Fed Up Citizen
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August 19, 2012
So what about councilman "Goldfinger"? As an attorney does he get a pass for the same ethics violation? At some point, surely something can be done about his heavy-handedness with local politics. We want our leaders to be good citizens first, with the best interests of the electorate at heart. Does "anyone" believe Goldstein gives a damn about anyone else but himself?
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