A Massachusetts lawyer whose response to a state bar misconduct investigation was, “SILENCE. (BOOM SHAKALAKA),” was rightfully suspended for failing to cooperate with the probe, the state’s high court said.
The Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts on May 12 also affirmed a finding of contempt against Ilya Liviz for not complying with that suspension order.
Liviz made “no meaningful attempt to challenge on appeal” the contempt order and focused instead on his claims concerning the order’s validity, the court noted on Tuesday.
After he was administratively suspended in April 2019, the Lowell, Massachusetts, lawyer was prohibited from performing legal work. But a judge concluded that he “rendered legal services” during this time, which is why he was found to have been in contempt, the high court said.
Liviz argued that he did respond to the bar counsel’s investigation, the high court noted.
“The respondent alleged that he ‘DID COMPLY, and DID PROVIDE AN ANSWER, and my answer was provided in a form of SILENCE. (BOOM SHAKALAKA),’” the court said, adding, “He also stated that, to the extent an answer was required, he “formally den[ied], and demand[ed] a Jury Trial.”
Silence isn’t a response categorically protected by the privilege against compelled self-incrimination under the U.S. Constitution’s Fifth Amendment, the state’s top court said.
Because Liviz didn’t meaningfully challenge the contempt order, the court said it considered the facts alleged in bar counsel’s complaint for contempt established for purposes of appeal.
“We need go no further,” the court said, affirming the suspension and contempt order.
The case is In the Matter of Liviz, 2020 BL 176539, Mass., No. SJC-12732, 5/12/20..