Divorce Lawyer Gets 2-Years for Eavesdropping on Behalf of Client
|Mary Nolan: the lawyer with her lawyer|
Until recent months, Mary Nolan was a veteran family lawyer in the Bay Area. Her career and her reputation lay in ruins on Monday as she stood before a federal judge at a sentencing hearing on eavesdropping and tax evasion [guilty plea] convictions.
Ms. Nolan admitted to exercising the incredibly poor judgment of hiring a private detective to plant a recording device in the vehicle of her client's ex-husband. While she was practicing law within that illegal context, she was cheating the IRS out of nearly half a million dollars in unpaid taxes over the span of the last several years.
A true spectacle for disaster; lawyer-style. While the eavesdropping component of her case garnered some left-coast headlines, the sentencing judge focused more on the tax evasion component of Nolan's sentence stating that, as a lawyer, she was held to the higher standard of knowing the tax code, however complex, and charged with following those laws.
The sensationalising of Nolan's case, on the other hand, was heightened by the plight of the investigator she hired to perform her dirty work on this and other cases. The investigator, doing an 8-year bit himself, was convicted in a series of unrelated cases along with several Bay Area law enforcement officers.
We are not making this up. Here's how the investigator's sting worked: he would hire attractive women to flirt and drink with men at bars that were followed because they were going through a divorce. Once the poor schlub consumed a few cold screamers with the hottie's encouragement, local law enforcement would be tipped-off and wait for the unsuspecting divorce litigant to drive-off. Then, kerblam; a niftily arranged drunk driving conviction to toss into the family court like a grenade.
The private dick followed his targets apparently at the behest of some of the less ethical members of California's family law bar; two of the investigator's marks had spouses that were client's of Nolan's. Just sayin; we here at the Law Blogger invite you to draw your own conclusions.
Here in Michigan, it is generally illegal to record conversations in which you are not a participant. We sometimes have to turn away evidence of serious fault supplied by a divorce client.
Lawyers must always follow the law or the whole system breaks down and becomes a sham. When lawyers don't follow the law, this case illustrates that punishment in the form of incarceration and disgrace await.