Lawyer fined, faces possible discipline after finger gesture
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The Michigan Court of Appeals has fined an attorney $3,000 for raising his middle finger while an opposing lawyer was speaking during a virtual hearing.
James Heos also has been referred to the Attorney Grievance Commission for possible further discipline following the May 11 incident, the Detroit Free Press reported.
Heos, 74, of East Lansing, said Friday that he made the gesture at his malfunctioning computer screen and had no idea that the three judges or anyone else could see him.
“It’s a very embarrassing situation,” Heos said. “I’ve been a lawyer 46 years” and “I’ve never been accused of inappropriate, unruly, or rude conduct in the courtroom.”
Heos said he has already paid the fine.
When questioned during the hearing, Heos claimed he was “pointing” at his computer screen. The hearing was being held virtually due to COVID-19 precautions.
“Mr. Heos exhibited shameful disrespect to the court and to opposing counsel in his offensive gesture and his dishonest replies to the court’s inquiries,” Judge Thomas Cameron said in a May 20 order.
Cameron was presiding over the hearing in a malpractice case. Heos was one of the lawyers representing the plaintiff.
Heos said Friday that he should have been more forthright, adding that he was not just pointing at his computer screen but also giving it the middle finger. Heos said he was frustrated because the computer was malfunctioning.
“I would imagine it appeared to them that I was flipping off the court and my opponent, which I would never do,” he said.