Arizona attorneys reporting threats and violence - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Arizona attorneys reporting threats and violence

Following two high profile shootings involving Arizona attorneys within the past two years, the State Bar of Arizona is polling its members to reveal how many have either been threatened or assaulted during their legal career.

The completed study indicates that 42 percent of those who responded to the survey indicated they had been threatened or assaulted.

Of those attorneys, seven out of ten report the incident happened more than once.

Phoenix attorney Mark Hummels and his client Steve Singer were gunned down in January after a mediation.

The man who pulled the trigger wasn't happy with how his case was going.

"We realized this was something we needed to start paying attention to," says John Phelps, CEO of the State Bar of Arizona.

Some attorneys responding to the survey also included detailed examples of how they had been threatened.

"I have been confronted at my office by a man with a shotgun," read one.

"Shot out my car window when leaving visit of a child," said another.

"Jail calls revealed that the defendants were planning a "beat down," read another.

"I'm not going to say we were surprised, but it was an eye opener for us," says Phelps.

After Hummels death, Phelps not only commissioned the study, but he also began to assemble a panel of experts for a seminar on attorney workplace violence, which will be held next Tuesday.

"I want to learn more about what I could be doing, what I should be doing and how to be more situationally aware," says Phoenix attorney Holly Gieszl.

Gieszl has practiced law for 25 years and fortunately for her, she is not among the 42 percent of threatened and/or assaulted attorneys.

"Maybe I need to ask myself why I feel so safe, if so many other people don't," she said.

The nationwide seminar hosted by the Bar Association already has 375 locations signed up to view it's live webinar. There is no cost to participants.

"Some basic things they can do to protect their workplace, to notice certain indicators," said Phelps.

The seminar will include presentations by:

Sgt. Phil Brailsford, City of Mesa Police Department, who is trained to counteract shooters and apprehend violent offenders.

Douglas C. Northup, Fennemore Craig, PC, a former police officer turned litigator.

Susan Wissink, Fennemore Craig, PC, a lawyer experienced in disaster preparation.

Amy D. Paul, Psy.D., Crisis Preparation and Recovery, Inc., a psychologist who is an expert in situational awareness.

A detailed copy of the survey results is located below.

[Related: Summary of survey results (PDF)]

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