No custody, visitation or family law opinions were released by the Georgia appellate courts in November 2019. However, the Georgia Supreme Court released one disciplinary action against a family law attorney. By all means, this is a must read for all attorneys, as a reminder of everything not to do!
In the Matter of Millard C. Farmer, Jr., Case No. S19Y1156, Georgia Supreme Court, November 4, 2019.
This is not the first time we’ve seen Millard Farmer in family law opinions. But, this will be the last! After over 50 years of practicing law with no State Bar disciplinary history, Mr. Farmer has now made up for lost time with a cornucopia of offenses, as he led his client through a campaign of frivolous, unethical and unprofessional litigation strategies and tactics.
The history of the now-disbarred attorney’s representation of a mother in a bitter custody battle, and the long list of offenses perpetrated by him, are beyond comprehension. To shock the senses of the readers of this review, below is a list of some of the offenses that ultimately led to his disbarment. I believe it goes without saying…. these are the things that we, as professionals, should never do!
- Advised the client to violate a court order by refusing to participate in a custody evaluation;
- Advised the client to encourage the children to resist their father by, for example, running away from his home, and manufacturing evidence of abuse and neglect;
- Discussed substantive issues directly with the children;
- Willfully refused to appear at a contempt hearing;
- Personally attacked the trial judge, court staff and anyone else taking positions contrary to his client. This included filing pleadings with accusations that the judge was biased and corrupt. It also included filing a lawsuit and a professional grievance against the court reporter;
- Threatened witnesses. Mr. Farmer, in fact, followed through with one of his threats against a former client hired as an expert. When the former client did not testify as Mr. Farmer demanded, Mr. Farmer filed briefs revealing client confidences obtained during his representation of the former client;
- Advised client that he would not dismiss or mediate the custody case unless and until she paid $500,000 in attorney fees owed to him;
- Threatened the opposing party to make the case “expensive and painful” unless he paid significantly more than his client’s damages;
- Continued to litigate the case against the court reporter even after the client instructed him to stop. Indeed, Farmer filed at least one brief that the client did not authorize;
- Conflictineering. This was Mr. Farmer’s term for litigation tactics meant to disrupt the judicial process. Mr. Farmer’s “conflictineering included numerous motions to recuse, and over 500 frivolous motions and baseless appeals. The goal was to get the Court and/or the opposing to simply capitulate;
Because of his many antics, Mr. Farmer was penalized several times. Notably, he was held in contempt at least one time by the trial court. The appellate courts also imposed frivolous appeal sanctions against him twice. And, in the Northern District of Georgia Mr. Farmer was found liable in a RICO action for racketeering, extortion, bribery and other things related to the custody case. Although we will never again see Mr. Farmer litigating as an attorney in a Georgia courtroom, he, and his foregoing behaviors will be forever memorialized in several Georgia appellate decisions:
- Murphy v. Murphy, 322 Ga. App. 829 (2013)
- Murphy v. Murphy, 295 Ga. 376 (2014)
- Murphy v. Murphy, 328 Ga. App. 767 (2014)
- Murphy v. Murphy, 330 Ga. App. 169 (2014)
- Murphy v. Freeman, 337 Ga. App. 221 (2016)
- Murphy v. Farmer, 176 F.Supp.3d 1325 (N.D. Ga. 2016)
Really! All I can say is WOW!