A Houston lawyer has been ordered to pay $1,800 to a Southeast Asian law group after he called a defendant a "Paki POS" and requested his deportation.
First reported by Texas Lawyer, "Gary Riebschlager agreed to pay the voluntary donation to the South Asian Bar Association of Houston in lieu of sanctions at the suggestion of 125th State District Court Judge Kyle Carter."
The attorney's racist emails apparently grew out of his frustration over delays in a case where Riebschlager's client, a company that sells cell phones, sued a customer for allegedly blowing off a $81,000 invoice.
Despite the fact that both parties in the case are Pakistani, Riebschlager apparently felt that the defendant was a little too Pakistani for his tastes. In a January 19 email to the defendant's lawyer, Joseph Colvin, Riebschlager veered into All-Caps-Racist-Land, writing, "I'm sure all involved herein LOVE Trump...here's your chance to DEPORT the POS Your Hero has been talking about. POS Paki." He also wrote "Deport this POS" in a separate email. (Note: For the uninitiated, the acronym refers to doodie).
To Riebschlager's credit, he emailed the following day to say "apologize for my unprofessional rant of yesterday. I had a terrible day, and I am quite frustrated with your client."
This wasn't good enough for Colvin and his co-counsel, Ajay Ketkar, who filed a motion for sanctions. The motion called the racist emails an affront to jurisprudence, and stated that "the reprehensibility of Mr. Riebschlager's actions is underscored by the fact that racial insults are intentional acts."
In what might also be considered an affront to jurisprudence, the lawyers asked the judge to make Riebschlager write a ten-page book report on "The Namesake," by Jhumpa Lahiri, along with other racially sensitive homework. (We heard the defendants' lawyers originally wanted the judge to make Riebschlager write an apology on the blackboard 100 times.)
Riebschlager seems to have made things worse by filing a somewhat bananas response denying the emails' racism, once again employing all-caps, to say, "This unfounded allegation has NO legitimacy or place in halls of contested advocacy."
But you know what DOES have a place in those halls? Stuff like this: "The thin skin of the current millenial lawyer would never stand the test of time of such renowned trial lawyers as Joe [Jamail], Ronnie Krist, Racehorse Haynes" and others. Riebschlager — who also apparently has never once represented a douchebag — also explained that he does not tolerate the "lying, cheating, difficulty of people with hot checks to good people, and those that defend these types of clients."
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
Riebschlager also wrote that he "represents people from all over the world — of all races; creeds; and national origins," and that to call him racist "is beyond imagination."
In a non-racist emailed statement on the matter, lawyer Ashish Mahendru, who serves on the South Asian Bar of Houston's advisory board, said:
"One doesn't need to be a minority to appreciate the detrimental impact of racist, expletive-laden communications about lawyers and parties. In the hallowed halls of justice, blistering hatred and animus should be checked at the courthouse steps. Invoking the president's name to threaten deportation-laced with racist epithets about a party to a lawsuit is not acceptable or appropriate at any level. The judge appropriately struck the right balance in finding the emails were racist and ordering that $1,800 be paid to the South Asian Bar Association."
Most of us, while not racist, have sent regrettable emails in the heat of the moment. Perhaps this could serve as a cautionary tale. Or, even better, a CAUTIONARY tale.