When is an attorney’s litigation tactic so outrageous that it’s criminal? One jury said that an attorney made the litigation so costly to the other client that it amounted to civil racketeering. They say the attorney made the custody matter unreasonably long and expensive. They said that it was unfair and even criminal that the attorney took advantage of his position as an attorney in order to make litigation costly. In addition to damages, the jury awarded the victim special damages totaling $243,000.
The attorney, Millard Farmer, represented the victim’s ex-wife in a custody matter. The victim is the opposing party, the ex-spouse and father involved in the case. The jury said that Farmer used his position in order to stir up conflict.
Rather than simply represent his client and work towards a resolution of the case, the attorney tried to keep the litigation going and make it expensive in order to force the other side to give in. Accusers say that Farmer even had a word for it – conflictineering. They say that stirring up conflict was Farmer’s litigation tactic. Farmer said the tactic was fair, and that he was only trying to expose the other side’s immorality.
In addition to trying to keep the litigation going as an offensive strategy, the attorney also allegedly tried to bribe a judge. Court records say he also tried intimidating a court officer. Allegedly, the attorney filed court motions against the court recorder involved in the case. He then promised the court recorder that he’d dismiss the case against her if she got the judge to resign from the case.
Authorities say that he also tried to anger witnesses. He made accusations against them that weren’t founded and threatened to sue them if they didn’t do what he wanted. In at least one case, he made an unfounded complaint against a witnesses’ professional license. He allegedly made false statements against the opposing party and his wife that he knew would likely hurt their professional reputations.
Farmer maintains his innocence. He says that he was just doing his job in order to represent his client. He said the racketeering charge was retaliation because he did his job representing his client. He said he took the case pro bono because it was unfair that the other party had so much money to spend on the case. Officials say they offered to drop the racketeering charge if Farmer agreed to resign his law license, and he refused.