My mom is an in-house attorney for a university and my friend and I (we are both in high school) forwarded a chain email between her and some other people (I think other lawyers or employees) I'm which they were mocking a plaintiff's appearance and their counsel. I didn't mean to do harm when I sent this to the plaintiff's lawyer in San Diego. We just thought it would be funny. I'm afraid come Monday morning I'm going to be in major trouble. Please help
I don't think you will have trouble with the law. I don't think your mom will have trouble with the Bar. You will have trouble with mom. Guaranteed.
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I would be more afraid of your mother at this point than the law. How did you gain access to the email chain? You could be charged/sued if accessed someone's private account without authorization.
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This was not harmless fun, your mother could face consequences with the State Bar because of your prank. Depending on what was said in the email, it is possible that the Plaintiff's attorney will forward the email to the State Bar for investigation. The State Bar will hold her accountable for allowing you to gain access to her email and the potentially confidential information that it contains. It's hard for me to understand why you thought it would be funny to send this email to the opposing attorney showing your mom and other people making fun of them. Even if she doesn't get in trouble with the Bar, this will likely effect her relationship with the other attorney and diminish her abilty to resolve the case. I suggest you tell your mother what you did so that she can try to minimize the potential harm to her case and career.
I agree with Attorneys Salvador and Williams. You would not be criminally liable, but you could potentially be civilly liable, and if the plaintiff's attorney is not interested in being sympathetic to your mother, s/he could, at the very least, ask the California State Bar to open an ethics investigation into your mother's professional conduct. Whether formal discipline would be rendered against your mother is an unknown, but it still means she would be investigated by the agency with the power to revoke her license, or publicly censure her, depending on the circumstances. This is a bad joke with serious consequences.
Your ability to access your mother's email certainly raises questions about whether she "maintains inviolate" her client's confidences and preserves her client's secrets "at every peril to herself."
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