It looks like years of representing whackadoodles takes a serious toll on a lawyer. They can go from top of their game, written up in the society pages, to out on their ear just like that. Case in point: we thought Jessica Hahn blowing up at Barbara Walters on The View this week was kooky! But just get a load of her attorney! While Hahn was going bananas on TV, Dominic Barbara was facing charges from the New York State Court system.
This week he learned he was suspended from practicing law for 18 months for issues that stem back to the 1980s. He was the guy who represented Hahn during her Jim Bakker sex scandal days, then he tried to keep meathead Joey Buttafuoco out of jail after he'd slept with underage "Long Island Lolita" Amy Fisher. Two years ago he was repping Richard Batista, the Long Island surgeon who wanted his soon-to-be ex-wife to pay him back for the kidney he'd given her to save her life.
With clients like these, you don't have to do much to look like a choirboy in comparison. Really, even a coke habit or a porn problem would look tame next to "I slept with a teenager who then shot my wife" or "I gave my wife my kidney, then I asked for it back." But if anyone could make a case that spending time with the dregs of society will drag you down too, it's Barbara.
The official suspension from the Appellate Division comes from 20 sanctions between 1988 and 2009, including nine letters of caution. Barbara was accused of billing errors and improper staff supervision, then found guilty of professional misconduct.
But the outside of court stuff tells the real story. This dude seems to have taken his clients on not just for their fees but as role models. He's a trainwreck! Here's just a taste:
1. In May of last year, police say he violated an order of protection to walk into a bagel shop where his ex-wife, Leslie, was eating. He then demanded the cops arrest his wife for "stalking" him! I'm no lawyer, but generally your stalker doesn't sit at a bagel shop with her gal pals. She's the one in the bushes with her black ski mask.
2. If that wasn't sufficient evidence that Barbara's got a little trouble in the ladies' department, he once had charges levied against Leslie for throwing a plate of spaghetti at his head. This after he'd married, divorced, re-married, and then re-divorced her (get all that?). Charges were dropped, incidentally.
3. But the pasta to the head did a little something dangerous to his noodle. Just a few months after the plate to the pate incident, Barbara let it be known he was dating Stacy Geller, ex-wife of Sheldon Geller, and he'd put her to work for his firm. What's the big deal? Barbara represented Sheldon in their divorce. First he hangs 'em out to dry, then he brings 'em into the fold.
4. And now for the coup de grace. Barbara's claim to fame besides his high profile clients is his "voice talent" appearances on the Howard Stern Show, where the shockjock refers to him as "the bloated attorney" and makes fun of his "garbled diction."
It's a good thing Dominic Barbara retired this week. I don't think the justice system could take an attorney sinking much lower.
So who is the bigger trainwreck: the attorney or the clients?
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