Greenfield wrote about some of the travails of Kansas City lawyer Carlos Romious.
But if we are to view Romious’ behavior as an indication that this is a seriously unstable individual, then what is he doing practicing law in this condition? Rather than being held in contempt, he should be held for a psych evaluation.
While the WSJ categorized this story under “lawyers behaving badly,” I think they’ve missed the boat. This lawyer either suffers from a psychological infirmity or is shockingly incompetent. Psychosis seems the most likely, because the alternative is just too far beyond the pale to accept. And if Romious’ conduct was the result of psychosis, then the solution isn’t contempt but treatment.
Ten days later, a federal judge in St. Louis ordered Romious to undergo an inpatient psychiatric evaluation at FMC Springfield.
Two years on, Romious has been disbarred.
The echo chamber picked up this titillating fact: he was disbarred for charging $3,500 an hour. While that was a fact involved in his disbarment, that’s only a small part of the truth. Here’s the order:
Carlos Romious Disbarment Order
Romious failed to respond to the disbarment proceedings. He didn’t file an answer or appear at hearings. His license had been suspended since October 2008 for administrative reasons.
All of the conduct that resulted in Romious’s disbarment occurred between April and June 2008, before the psych evaluation was even ordered. The last anyone heard from Romious, it appears from the order, was November 17, 2009, when he sent an email asking that a bar discipline hearing set the next day be continued.
I hope Carlos Romious is alive and well, and has found help. And if you are a lawyer battling a drug problem, or an alcohol problem, or a mental health problem or an emotional problem or any other demon that might get in the way of your helping your clients, I hope you will get help while your license can still be salvaged. Your problems are not going to get any lighter if you ignore them. Pick up the phone and call a friend.
And if you’ve already alienated all of your friends and you don’t have anyone left to help you, then please: pick up the phone and call me.
[Update for our visitors from The Motley Fool Boards: I don’t know what “this guy should know better” means, but it’s foolish to think that either courtroom personnel or jail personnel would have noticed (much less cared about) Mr. Romious having a drug or alcohol problem. In the courtroom, it’s not necessarily possible to distinguish a drug user from an everyday asshole; in the jail, people are generally dried out. Whatever Mr. Romious’s problem was should have been detected at Springfield, but we don’t know the result of that evaluation, which, as I note, took place after all of the conduct that resulted in his disbarment. We can only hope that he has found help.]