Wednesday, April 18, 2018

RIP Jacob Hafter

Jacob Hafter passed away yesterday at age 42. [RJ]

86 comments:

  1. This really sucks. I sometimes wonder if I would be happier in another profession. Golden handcuffs are a drag.....

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    1. Don't let them drag you so far down you lose the will to fight to reach the surface again. Signed, been there and never going back.

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  2. I'm sorry for his family's loss. In light of past posts, the link for Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers.

    https://www.nvbar.org/member-services-3895/nlap/lcl/

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    1. This is an INCREDIBLE sore spot for me. HUGE. Around five years ago, I approached the State Bar and indicated that it did not have a program for attorneys in this circumstance and that there was no component within LCL to address the depression which discipline, suspension, criminal prosecution brought on attorneys. The issue came to light with the suicides of David Amesbury and Nancy Quon. I suggested that these are members of our profession who can be disciplined as attorneys but supported as human beings; State Bar was not really interested. I talked with Mitch Cobeaga about it, who was much more receptive to the idea. However it never got off of the ground. I will say to anyone on this blog who goes through this circumstance that I have been there and will offer an ear to listen if you are faced with the depression of losing your profession (even short term). I think it is abysmal that our State Bar as an organization cannot support the human beings who are part of its membership. As to Hafter, we crossed swords. He was a zealous advocate.

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    2. We need more people like you in the profession. Look, I am dealing with a double layer of jerks right now in this profession, but it will all work out. I am at least positive that there are some people in the profession who are decent and do the right thing. I will practice this philosophy when I am practicing law and voting.

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    3. In addition to Nancy Quon and David Amesbury, please remember David Schubert and Lisa Ann Willardson. The NSB simply does not care about attorneys who are suffering.

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    4. I second this sentiment. The State Bar has no empathy, compassion, consideration or concern for attorneys in this circumstance. We would rather chase them off of the cliff than actually do anything to help them.

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    5. All these comments are well thought-out, and I tend to agree with them.

      But keep in mind that none of the attorneys mentioned approached the Bar, prior to their downfall, seeking help and referencing any problems concerning physical or mental health, chemical dependency, etc. And in fact, I don't recall that after they attracted the inquiry of the State Bar, that any of them significantly advanced such a theme for the purpose of mitigation, intervention, etc.(with, I believe, the possible exception of Schubert, whose attorney did appear to advance and argue such related matters to some extent).

      Now, granted, a main reason why, in addition to not seeking help before-hand, or even afterwards to any significant extent, is how incredibly hot and fast-moving these situations were.

      A couple of those four mentioned were already dead before they could, within State Bar proceedings, seek mitigation, or even help within the framework of such proceedings, to address and mitigate these matters.

      But agree that even if one of them had been red-flagging certain issues to the Bar, and asking for help and intervention, a full year or two before their down-fall, I'm not convinced that the Bar would have ben particularly receptive.

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  3. I liked Jacob a lot. He was always good to me and often took on clients with righteous causes who didn't have the ability to pay.

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  4. Absolutely devastating for his wife and children.

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    1. for his children for sure. His wife, not so much. She was divorcing him anyway.

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    2. You're pathetic, 9:20

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  5. Regardless of what your opinion of him may have been on a professional or personal level, it is clear from his Facebook page and elsewhere that he dearly loved his wife and children, and I am sorry for their devastating loss.

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  6. https://www.reviewjournal.com/news/suspended-las-vegas-lawyer-jacob-hafter-dies-at-age-42/
    Love Hafter or hate him. At least have some respect people!

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  7. 11:08 is spot on. Whether people like him or thought he was an asshole is irrelevant. The man clearly had some demons and was depressed to take his own life. Remember that everyone struggles and some people handle it better than others. Some people lash out and others internalize, but either way everyone is struggling in their own way. It is hard to downplay someone's struggle as it is based upon their own perception. There is always someone who has a harder struggle, but it is irrelevant as perception becomes belief and when you perceive you can't handle the struggle any longer we should all step up and try to help that person.

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  8. BDE Jacob. Everyone remember to be kind. Be fair.

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  9. He absolutely loved his wonderful wife and his amazing, brilliant children, and he worked as hard as he did because he wanted to provide them every opportunity and benefit he could. I am heartbroken for them, and you would be too if you knew them. Please spare them any comments that could inflict further pain and grief.

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  10. Suicide is likely not the best thing he could have done to improve life on behalf of his better half and kids.

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    1. Unless he was sitting on a large life insurance policy over two years old. OBC did suspend his license for six months and this is absolutely devastating for a solo practitioner. Puts someone in a hard spot when they can trade his life to guarantee support for his wife and kids for several years..... Too bad the bar doesn't reach out post suspension to see how anyone is doing. It could save lives. But we all know NSB, OBC, and NSC don't really care about anyone but themselves.

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    2. Reach out? They beat the hell out of you on trying to get reentry. People killing themselves is just another day at the office for the SBN.

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    3. Life insurance doesn't typically pay in cases of suicide.

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    4. And you can blame OBC, and the NSC that there is a young widow and children without their father. Enjoy the Bar convention all on our dime.

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    5. Yeah, because they should never enforce attorney ethics standards, because someone might get depressed and hurt themselves. Let's just not have any laws. They make me sad.

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    6. 11:02, I think you know that is not what 8:14 AM is getting at. Although, to be fair, I think 8:14 unfairly assumes a lot we don't know (and likely won't ever know) as to what did and didn't affect Hafters decision to end his own life.

      This is a hard profession. It is brutal on the mind, soul and relationships. 8:14 is right insofar as what is on paper a temporary suspension is in some cases a defacto termination of a career. And for some offenses, that is disproportionate. That's a fair criticism and discussion - is the NSC and OBC doling out proportionate punishments that are just.

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    7. 11:02 is OBC. Get your pitch in there now while you can, you and the Board of Govs and the Nevada Supreme Court.

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    8. Usually people who work in career posts, such as attorney ethics depts., FBI etc., are not motivated by anything personal. They enforce the rules and laws based upon facts.
      Just my two cents.
      (And, no, I have no affiliation or association with either)

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    9. You cannot be serious 1:22. First, OBC is really not a "career" post. I cannot think of anyone during my 25+ years in the state who spent their entire career at OBC. People come there from other places with other biases and marching orders (including Stan) and people going other places. Productivity is measured not by how many cases you got right but how many people you took down.

      And not motivated by anything personal is both untrue and bad thing. First, the failure and refusal to recognize that different facts merit different treatment is frightening. Every case is personal, for the victims, for the target, for the investigators and prosecutors. Every case is unique. Every case is different.

      Secondarily, when you say that it is nothing personal, you clearly have not handled or monitored discipline cases in the past 5 years or had any white collar criminal dealings with either FBI, Treasury or USAO. It has become incredibly arbitrary and capricious in this state to the point that no one knows what the standards for discipline are any longer on the Bar side and on the criminal side the facts and law do not matter so long as the head ends up on the wall. It is incredibly personal, with incentives of keeping your job tied to getting cases closed and not worrying about getting cases right. When I was young defense attorney, we had a client plead guilty to try to protect his family; even though the facts were really favorable, you cannot play Russian Roulette with the Feds. All of the agents, and the agents' supervisors and other people from the office, were all there for the otherwise sealed guilty plea. I asked my mentor many years ago why they would waste a day coming to watch an otherwise sealed plea. I was informed that agents always come to "pose with the shark", to take pleasure in taking down someone regardless of right when armed with might. Sure if you ask agents and AUSAs they will personally tell you that it is not personal.

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    10. OK. Sure. What you said.

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    11. "no one knows what the standards for discipline are any longer on the Bar side"

      You mean no one knows what they can get away with any longer. Everyone knows the standards. You can't say OBC is being arbitrary because it can't catch/prosecute every case. Suspension (much less disbarment) doesn't happen in Nevada absent serious malfeasance, with aggravators.

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    12. Nope, 3:03 PM. You attempt to conflate consistency with aggressive enforcement. They are not the same. We all read the OBC reports in Nevada Lawyer every month. There certainly is aggression, but there absolutely isn't consistency.

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    13. 3:03-- you are absolutely incorrect and 3:12 nails it. Go back and track the discipline decisions for the last 7 years. What you will find is consistent inconsistency. For example, here are five cases which have come down in the last two years. Without looking up the cases, tell me what the discipline imposed for each of these cases was:

      1. Lawyer lied to a Judge, lied to Metro who was investigating the attorney as the owner of a business committing fraud on the Court and then lied to the State Bar during its investigation. Attorney was not criminally prosecuted but was found to have committed fraud on the Court, on law enforcement and on the State Bar. Attorney violated RPC 3.3, RPC 8.1(a), and RPC 8.4(c). Attorney had five prior disciplinary offenses, four aggravating factors and no mitigating factors.

      2. Lawyer misled a non-governmental trade organization in a letter (not under oath) that was investigating Lawyer's clients for membership and claimed to not have information relative to the clients. Two years later, Clients were criminally prosecuted. Five years after that, Attorney was criminally prosecuted for lying to the trade organization. Attorney was sentenced to 366 days. Attorney violated RPC 8.4(b). Attorney had 2 aggravating factors and 9 mitigating factors.

      3. Lawyer signed a short sale document under oath and affirmed that the short sale was an "arms' length transaction." As a result of the short sale, Lawyer was given a deficiency waiver. Attorney was criminally prosecuted and given probation. Attorney violated RPC 8.4(b) and RPC 8.4(c). There were 2 aggravating factors and six mitigating factors.

      4. Lawyer was tried and convicted of five felony counts of structuring financial transactions, tax evasion and making a false return. Attorney was sentenced to 33 months in prison. Attorney violated one count of RPC 8.4(b). Attorney had 3 aggravating factors and 4 mitigating factors.

      5. Lawyer was disciplined in 2007 and 2015 for taking client monies from Trust Account. Attorney admitted that Attorney violated RPC 1.4, RPC 1.15, RPC 3.4(c), RPC 5.5, RPC 8.1(b)and RPC 8.4 and violated duties owed to his clients (two violations of safekeeping property and one violation each of communication and diligence) and the profession (failing to respond to disciplinary authority's lawful requests for information, unauthorized practice of law while administratively suspended, failing to respond to new counsel, and failing to comply with court orders and rules)and acted with intent in misappropriating for personal and business use client retainers and failing to resolve the outstanding judgment as ordered by his 2015 Discipline, and with knowledge in failing to communicate with clients and act with diligence in responding to requests for information. There were 5 aggravators and 4 mitigators. Attorney was not criminally prosecuted for taking money out of the trust account for his own use.

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    14. 3:12, you just restated 3:03's point.

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    15. To:4:17. I'm too lazy and busy, and not sufficiently motivated, to research the results of all five of those cases, and I think I speak for many in this regard. I thought you would post the resultant discipline in each case. Please do s. Since you are asking us to guess on the discipline, and have not posted the ultimate sanctions handed down, it is difficult, and premature for someone to offer an opinion on your view that the discipline(at least as to the examples you cite) is wildly inconsistent.

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    16. 8:41-- This is 4:17. My point is that every member of the State Bar should be able to look at a set of facts (including the number of aggravators and mitigators) and be able determine what discipline/suspension accompanies it for consistency and predictability. There should be no "guessing". The fact that an attorney has to "guess" what the Wheel of Discipline is going to levy tells you that there is problem with the system.

      I did not ask (and in fact expressly stated that you should not have to if discipline is consistent) look up the decisions because it should be easily ascertainable. The Supreme Court states time and again that discipline is not to be punishment. But I will answer your inquiry.

      1. 12 months suspension
      2. 53 months suspension
      3. 18 months suspension
      4. 36 months suspension
      5. 12 months suspension concurrent with the suspension that attorney was already serving.

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    17. Is there evidence that this tragic event was a result of any ethics proceedings? It seems irresponsible to link it to ethics proceedings in this way. And attorneys are all about responsibility, as everyone knows.

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    18. The only evidence is that I knew Jacob prior to the discipline proceedings. He was strong and indicated no cracks in the armor. After the State Bar brought discipline proceedings, you seemed more resolute than ever to fight to discrimination and injustice that he felt was occurring. He was certain that the Supreme Court was going to see the clear injustice. Like many attorneys, he believed if he fought hard enough, eventually the "justice" system would come to its senses. He was severely deflated by the Supreme Court's decision, which he believed indicated that the Court had never actually read the record. He talked about leaving the practice of law and going into other industries where he could enjoy life and not have to deal with the baloney that our court system had become in his estimation.

      Were the discipline proceedings the sole cause of this event? I cannot say and will never know. Were the discipline proceedings seemingly the one event that seemed to overwhelm him and break him? From my perspective as someone who knew him before and after the discipline: Yes.

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    19. It appears that there were additional unrelated disciplinary proceeding in another state where he was looking at suspension or disbarment, and that he was dealing with some difficult personal litigation. There may have been additional unknown problems. It seems irresponsible to try and pin this on a single ethics proceeding, which discipline was shortly coming to an end. Either way, it is simply tragic.

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    20. Irresponsible by people who knew him? Did you know him? Did you talk to him? The New Jersey proceedings were not a concern on his mind because he was not actively practicing in NJ and believed that reciprocal discipline was the likely result. The personal litigation was likewise not a financial drain or something weighing heavy on him.

      What is irresponsible is you speculating "[t]here may have been additional unknown problems" when it sounds like you have no personal knowledge at all. Before you accuse people who actually knew him of being irresponsible, give us your personal knowledge upon which you level such accusations.

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    21. 11:03 you seem to know all of the circumstances surrounding this tragedy. It appears that you believe that the sole reason for this sad event was the Nevada ethics discipline. But that was coming to an end next month, and he would have resumed practicing. Why this happened now is truly sad.

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    22. 4:17, I fail to see any wild inconsistency. All those attorneys did indisputably sanctionable things and all got suspended. The suspensions were all 12-18 months except the longer ones where the attorneys had first been sent to jail for felonies. And in the 18-month one, there was a criminal prosecution but only probation. I think these are all reasonably consistent.

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    23. @ 9:59 - law dog respectfully asked that the comments remain respectful. It appears that is occurring. However, now you post a comment that seeks to blame others - those involved in the Nevada disciplinary proceeding - for his decision to end his life. Those involved in that process - and there were many - are likely struggling with this tragic loss as well and are likely already grieving in their own way. But, a man can not dig a hole in life and then blame others when he falls in that hole. If the Nevada disciplinary process tipped him over the edge, blame should not be cast on those who were required to prosecute the issues in that proceeding, the witnesses involved, or the decision makers involved. He made his decisions in life, up to the end. It is horrid for his family. Most attorneys who are suspended do not take their own life. Jacob was found to have engaged in serious conduct, yet the state bar likely saw the good things in him that you mentioned, he was zealous for example - and they gave him a time out but he could have returned to practice. It is human nature to want to blame, but those who commit suicide are deeply troubled and this situation should remind us all that if we suspect one of our friends, colleagues or neighbors needs help do something to help. The practice of law is stressful, especially for litigators like Jacob and solo-practitioners like him as well. Let's help each other out and not let this happen again to one of our own.

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    24. 12:38-- Here is the problem with your analysis-- standards for discipline say that we punish the conduct and not whether it resulted in criminal prosecution. The stsndards for discipline are wildly different (or at least supposed to be wildly different). To say well a 12 month suspension for lying to Metro, the State Bar and the Court and a 53 month suspension for lying to a non-governmental trade organization are both fair because they both are suspensions is frankly ridiculous.

      @2:09-- No one (least of all me) is blaming the discipline process for causing the suicide. Discipline is a necessary part of the regulation of the profession. If Hafter's case, it was fair to go through the discipline process. There is a difference between identifying causation and casting blame. What I DO blame the State Bar and our profession for is the lack of any support network for those people who we suspend, meaning put in the penalty box. What I DO blame the State Bar and our profession for is the lack of any support network for those people who we suspend, meaning put in the penalty box. We presumably want to bring these attorneys back, rehabilitated and ready to practice. We do nothing in that regard. The blame is not on the discipline side here but it is on the profession side.

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    25. The profession of law requires a very high ethical and moral character. Lying under oath does not exactly meet that requirement.

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    26. No question. But is the sanction for lying under oath 12 months or 5 years? What if the lie was not under oath? We all deal with clients everyday who make mistakes: some intentionally, some willfully, some negligently. We expect to be able to know what the probably sanction is for conduct. We want consistency and predictability.

      To say that it is fair and consistent that:
      ---->Attorney A lies under oath to Metro, the Bar and to the Court for selfish reason, is on her 5th disciplinary case and did no mitigation deserves 12 months while
      ----> Attorney B lies but not under oath to protect clients for her first disciplinary case, who has 9 mitigating factors and who was told by the State Bar that if she cooperates the sanction would be 18-24 months deserves 53 months

      is wildly disparate and destroys any sense that there is reasonableness or predictability to discipline. No one is arguing that the State Bar is not right to prosecute and discipline both of these cases. That is the red herring is that a number of posters put forth the red herring that the issue is whether there should be discipline or not. The issue is that discipline is wildly disparate in how it is meted out.

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    27. Also wildly disparate: life.
      Law and mathematics...and never the twain shall meet.

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    28. Lawyers #2 and #4 violated 8.4(b), committing a criminal act that reflects adversely on honesty or trustworthiness. The others only violated 8.4(c), non-criminal conduct involving dishonesty. I would expect a harsher penalty for the first kind of violation. No weird disparity here.

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    29. Anyone who is seriously concerned about disparities could petition the NSC to adopt some kind of penalty guidelines with a point system like the feds and some states use for criminal sentencing.

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    30. We have such a stringent test on ethical and moral character in our profession.

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  11. 42, so so young. So tragic. Praying for his family. So awful.

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  12. Jacob Hafter was a very nice man. I called him a couple of years ago because I had a client with potential civil rights violation claims. He answered the phone and gave me step by step recommendations regarding how he had handled similar cases involving prisons refusing to provide inmates Kosher food. So sad to lose a member of this community.

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  13. I never practiced with or against Jacob, so all of my info is second-hand. Either from this blog or from the newspaper. Having said that, those sources painted a picture of a very dedicated and hardworking lawyer who really cared about his clients. We need more lawyers like that.

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  14. Out of respect for Hafter’s family and friends, we’re not going to sling mud at him here. If you don’t have anything nice to say about Hafter, just don’t say anything at all.

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  15. I respected him for the way he stood up to the NSB that has a long history of selectively picking at solos for minor grievances while turning away from larger firm's outright violations. God Bless his family.

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    1. Cherry brought this up during the audit debate.... Suspend a solo practitioner when you audit his firm but the BigLaw guys skate.

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    2. Yes, please tell me again why Robert Vannah and the Eglet Group avoided being indicted for the medical mafia fiasco?

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    3. Would that involve the DOJ or US Attorney"s office.

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  16. Thanks law.dawg. The right call.

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  17. Wow! So even though the comments are safe for work, but express a view different than law dawg's (and others') they will not be tolerated here? I came to expect more from this blog where one could come for a lively debate of differing views, even on touchy subjects. Guess I was wrong ...

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    1. Interestingly, for those that knew him, you would have to agree that Hafter would have hated law dawg's censorship.

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    2. this is a tough call, I get why comments were made and they had valid points, but at the same time, there is a time and a place. And today was not the time.

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    3. 2:59 is exactly right. This is not about NSFW. This is about a man losing his life, a wife losing a husband and children losing a father. You want to debate his legal acumen, skills, tactics or whatever, wait a week or a month. Today is not the day for ad hominem attacks.

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    4. I learned a long time ago on here that I will never do anything that all of you agree with. So, I'm left to do the only thing I can do - what I personally think is right.

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    5. That's because some of us can be real assholes at times. You do you, law.dawg, and I'll keep checking the blog for the latest legal news and scuttlebutt.

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    6. Thanks for the continued support NMA.

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  18. https://www.scribd.com/document/376756047/DRB-Decision-on-Hafter

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    1. Go piss on someone else's grave.

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    2. Me thinks me knows who keeps posting the nego posts. Horrible.

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    3. Who is it so we can treat their grieving family with the same amount of deference and their grave with the same amount of urine?

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    4. Who did he really tick off?

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  19. I need a drink. When is the next Wolfson campaign parte? I wanna rub elbows with Harry Reid.

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  20. https://www.gofundme.com/family-of-4-lost-their-father

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  21. I had a long case with Hafter. I thought he was a smart attorney, and while I disliked his client's position I thought he was a zealous advocate for his client. Particularly difficult on a day like today - the thing I remember best about that case is how he always talked about his kids. Clearly a good dad. God bless them and his wife.

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  22. Jacob's final case: http://www.americanmafia.com/Inside_Vegas/9-18-17_Inside_Vegas.html

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    1. Jacob Hafter had other cases pending:
      Hafter v Pal, trial scheduled for May 29 2018
      U.S. Bank National Association v. Hafter et al (2:18-cv-00558)
      It is incredibly sad for his family that Jacob Hafter passed away.
      If it truly was suicide, it even more sad and heartbreaking.

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  23. Apparently, his wife filed for divorce on Monday.

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    1. And what is the probative value of that statement? Can you elaborate? Are you inferring that his wife filing for divorce caused him to commit suicide?

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    2. I would infer that between having no clients, being evicted from his office, the New Jersey bar suspending him for 6 months just a few weeks ago, some personal law suits against him, and then his wife dumping him was probably the last straw.

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    3. When something like this happens, there are typically far more things going on in the person's life and mind than we will ever know.

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    4. the court records show that he filed for divorce, not his wife. At least, he's listed as plaintiff. I think that the people who write there were many things going on and that we, as lawyers, need to judge less and help more are right.

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    5. there are two. She filed first. He counter filed.

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    6. does that matter legally or otherwise?

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  24. This is just awful. I did not know Jacob personally. We were friends on Facebook and I read some of the moronic & possibly biased media accounts of his professional and quasi personal trials and tribulations. He seemed like a decent guy and from reading this board it sounds like he was a zealous advocate and an intelligent attorney. I wished I had known he was suffering so much. I would have attempted some type of intervention or help.

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  25. It’s really not that hard to understand actually.

    Jay was living a lie; he tricked himself into believing he was a truth warrior fighting for justice, but in reality he was a great negative force burning though society, destroying everything he came into contact with.

    He could live with himself while the rewards kept piling up, but the loss of his bar license, litigation from former clients, and a divorce filing finally exposed Jay to himself, and he couldn’t face reality.

    It is a heavy load to carry, deceiving oneself. Don’t discount the toll that Jay’s charade of championing prisoner’s demanding kosher food or other degenerate causes had on the man himself.

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    1. Who hurt you, 9:32? Was it the person who urinated in your kosher Corn Flakes?

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  26. Which degenerate causes did he champion?

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  27. Hey everyone! Thanks for your comments. We're going to go ahead and lock this one down. If you want to continue discussions, please feel free to comment in the most current positing.

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