Lawyers Should Not Plant Drugs on People They Believe May Have Slighted Their Children

/ 10.Feb, 2016
Last week a California jury awarded $5.7 million dollars to a former PTA president due to the attempt by a husband and wife (both attorneys) to frame her for possession of drugs.  Kelli Peters was working as a volunteer at Plaza Vista School in Irvine, when attorney Jill Easter came to pick up her son.  Ms. Easter asked where her son was, and Ms. Peters responded he was “a little slow.”   Ms. Easter (who is now known as Eva Everheart) perceived this as an insult.  Ms. Easter and her ex-husband Kent Easter, then embarked on a year long campaign to get Ms. Peters fired from her volunteer position.  The campaign against Ms. Peters included handing out fliers, filing a police report, seeking a restraining order, and a civil suit.  The actions by the Easters against Ms. Peters culminated on February 15, 2011, when the Easters planted a bag filled with a marijuana bowl (according to some sources marijuana as well), Vicodin and Percocet behind the drivers seat of Ms. Peters’ car.  The next day, Mr. Easter called the police, told them he was a neighbor of Ms. Peters and that he saw her driving irregularly (Mr. Easter claims he did not know his wife planted the drugs). Ms. Easter pleaded guilty to planting the drugs, served 60 days in jail, and was disbarred.  Mr. Easter was found guilty of false imprisonment and served 86 days in prison and his license to practice law was suspended.  The civil verdict included $2.1 million in compensatory damages, $2.1 in punitive damages against Ms. Easter, and $1.5 in punitive damages against Mr. Easter.  The ethical violations involved in the conduct of these two attorneys are staggering.  Suffice it to say that Mr. Easter should count himself very lucky not to have been disbarred as well.  Under the Pennsylvania Rule of Professional Conduct 8.4 (and ABA Model Rules) it is professional misconduct for an attorney to: “(b)  commit a criminal act that reflects adversely on the lawyer’s honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer in other respects; (c)  engage in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation; (d)  engage in conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice.” –Josh J.T. Byrne, Esquire