“Mr. Newland and Seyfarth Shaw put forth three declarations from self-described experts opining in support of the argument that Mr. Newland acted reasonably and ethically”
Some might say, considering the fact he works for Seyfarth, he did act ethically. The fact that he got caught is the problem.
The Civilian Board of Contract Appeals has reprimanded Seyfarth Shaw LLP attorney James R. Newland Jr. after he confiscated documents from the office of U.S. General Services Administration counsel. Seyfarth represents a contractor trying to obtain a mere $136.1 million in overages for a federal building renovation project.
Newland was caught on camera entering a courtroom without permission, taking a set of drawings serving as evidence and walking out the door. His refusal to promptly return the evidence, as well as his indignation and odd statements used to try and justify his actions all necessitate sanctions, Judge Jeri K. Somers found in a decision on behalf of the majority of the full 15-member board.
In 2016, the Chicago office of Seyfarth Shaw was reported to have engaged in something similar:
Let’s not forget that Seyfarth’s Brian Ashe got caught being dishonest about a voice mail:
For Mr. Newland, not much in the way of punishment for picking up and walking off with government property:
In turning to the sanction that is appropriate here, we find that Mr. Newland’s action in removing materials from his opposing counsel’s hearing room table – without that counsel’s knowledge or consent – constitutes misconduct under our rules, in violation of Mr. Newland’s duties to the Board, to the public, to the legal system, and to the legal profession. Further, we find that Mr. Newland’s actions were intentional, and we find his current protestations that his original intent was only to be helpful by transporting documents to the Prettyman Courthouse to be beyond belief. Although he asserts that it “never occurred to [him] that GSA might object” to his removal of the drawings because “[m]oving [them] to the Prettyman Courthouse was necessary to ensure that the witness could continue referring to them in his ongoing testimony,” Seyfarth Shaw LLP’s and James R. Newland, Jr.’s Submission dated February 24, 2017, at 2, the record before us makes quite clear that, rather than coordinating this purported plan with GSA, Mr. Newland simply helped himself to the documents that he wanted.
ORDER REGARDING SANCTIONS: April 20, 2017 United States Civilian Board of Conract Appeals.