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Act 117: I File a Complaint

On September 15, 2003, a few months after all of the issues in the case had finally been settled, I filed an ethics complaint with the Michigan Attorney Grievance Commission against attorney Doug Sprinkle.

The main reason I chose to file a complaint against Doug rather than against his partner Julie Greenberg is that Doug had committed what I felt to be the single most outrageous act during the entire proceedings: He had made statements in the appeals hearing that were blatantly false. As I've documented earlier in this website, I was alarmed at the time because Doug's statements concerned such a critical point that, if the judges had believed him, I might have lost the case. Fortunately for me, the judges did not believe him (as they went out of their way to make clear in their decision), so no damage was done.

But just because Doug's false statements failed to sway the court, I still felt strongly that he should not be allowed to get away with them. I don't mean to be cynical, but if there are no negative repercussions to lawyers making false statements in court, why would any of them bother to tell the truth? In this instance, it was easy to prove that Doug's statements were untrue; in other instances, it might not be so easy to determine whether a lawyer's representations are true or false. And if lawyers are free to tell whatever stories pop into their heads without any concern for the consequences, the legal system will be even more of a mess than it is now.

As you'll see on the following pages, although my complaint concentrated on Doug's false statements to the Court of Appeals, I did raise a few other issues as well. My theory was that including other issues, even if they were relatively minor, would add weight to the complaint by demonstrating that the false statements were not isolated incidents, but rather that they were part of a pattern of unethical behavior. (As Sam Spade says in The Maltese Falcon: "Maybe some of them are unimportant. I won't argue about that. But look at the number of them!") In retrospect, that might have been a tactical mistake, in that my lack of focus might have led the Commission to conclude that I was nothing more than a crank and thus to discount my complaint. (On the other hand, my theory is that they should have taken my complaint seriously even though I am a crank!)

The form on the website of the Attorney Grievance Commission included a couple of inches of space for me to state my complaint – but it stated that I could attach additional pages, if necessary. Which, I thought, it was. So here's the form, followed by more than seven single-spaced pages of additional material.

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Next: Doug Responds to My Complaint

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