“In law, what plea so tainted and corrupt but, being seasoned with a gracious voice, obscures the show of evil?”

Shakespeare, Merchant of Venice, act 3, scene 2.

The following concurring opinion by California appellate Justice Arabian is from the case of Day v. Rosenthal, 170 Cal.App.3d 1125 (Cal. Ct. App. 1985).  The case was by 1950s actress Doris Day against her husband’s trusted attorney, Jerome B. Rosenthal.  Rosenthal was found to have placed greed before professional duty in his management of the actress’s finances.

I concur in the judgment and in the well reasoned analysis of the opinion. I write separately to additionally address that aspect of the case which deals with the conduct of counsel.

All references herein deal exclusively with attorney at law Jerome B. Rosenthal.

Honorable men and women are plentiful in the profession of the law who fully fathom that membership within its ranks entails privileges, conditions and burdens.

Yet, the recorded history of this matter discloses a course of conduct pursued by a votary of greed, who was insatiate in his avaricious appetite, lamentable in his judgment, and who engaged in a constant and deliberate usurpation of his noble office.

“In a profession, where unbounded trust is necessarily reposed, there is nothing surprising that fools should neglect it in their idleness, and tricksters abuse it in their knavery, but it is the more to the honour of those, and I will vouch for many, who unite integrity with skill and attention, and walk honourably upright where there are so many pitfalls and stumbling blocks for those of a different character.”

Sir Walter Scott, The Antiquary, chapter 43.

Guiding this protracted litany of litigation through many years, counsel has arraigned his profession, subjecting it to an abuse of the most pernicious kind.

He protests that his name and reputation have been besmirched by the judgment below and urges that we allow him to rise phoenix-like from the embers of his proven path of craft, trick and falsehood.

A legendary bird represented by the ancient Egyptians as living five or six centuries in the Arabian desert, being consumed in fire by its own act, and rising in youthful freshness from its own ashes. (Webster’s Third New Internat. Dict., p. 1699.)

“In law, what plea so tainted and corrupt but, being seasoned with a gracious voice, obscures the show of evil?” Here none so obscures.

Shakespeare, Merchant of Venice, act 3, scene 2.

The answer to his plea and protest is as follows: “Craft is the vice, not the spirit of the profession. Trick is professional prostitution. Falsehood is professional apostasy. The strength of a lawyer is in thorough knowledge of legal truth, in thorough devotion to legal right. Truth and integrity can  do more in the profession than the subtlest and wiliest devices. The power of integrity is the rule; the power of fraud is the exception.”

Judge Edward G. Ryan, Address, University of Wisconsin Law School, 1880.

A petition for a rehearing was denied September 6, 1985, and appellants’ petition for review by the Supreme Court was denied October 16, 1985.