The State Bar Association of North Dakota Fall 2015 Gavel Magazine - Page 12

As part of the Survey, respondents were asked to identify the area of law which comprises the majority of their legal practice. Not surprisingly, a significant percentage of respondents who reported threats and violence practice in the areas of criminal defense/prosecution (36.3 percent) and family law (16.8 percent). However, respondents in other areas of practice also reported being the recipients of threats and violence: Judge (11.5 percent); Corporate/Commercial/Real Estate (6.2 percent); and General Litigation (6.2 percent); Wills/Estates (3.5 percent); and Administrative (3.5 percent). Moreover, an additional 15 percent of respondents practicing in other areas of law reported being the recipients of threats and violence. Types of Threats and Violence The Survey asked respondents to identify the types of threats and acts of violence received relating specifically to their responsibilities as a legal practitioner. There were 108 respondents who reported their responses set forth in Table 2 below. Inappropriate and threatening communications were those communicated verbally (in person and by phone), through letters, email, text, Facebook, and even by a newspaper publication. Inappropriate approaches included face-to-face confrontations, attempts to commit violence, and being followed. Only 10 respondents (9.3 percent) who identified themselves as recipients of threats and violence reported being the victim of a physical assault. Similar to the results of the other 12 state surveys, the vast majority of respondents identified inappropriate and threatening communications and approaches. Inappropriate communications were made primarily in person or by phone, and included direct and veiled threats. For example, individuals made threats of: “I’ll get you”; “I’ll kill you”; “I’ll beat the **** out of you”; “I’ll find you and your family”; “I know where you live”; “I’ll have you removed”; “You had better watch your back”; and “How old are your children?” As described, the majority of reported threats were made directly against attorneys. However, multiple threats were directed against attorneys’ families and children. Many respondents described their experiences of learning of threats through other forms of inappropriate communications, including vandalism to vehicles (punctured tires, broken windows, etc.), offices (including shots fired at their office), and their residences. For example, one respondent 12 THE GAVEL Table 2: Types of Threats/ Inappropriate Communications Type Number Inappropriate Communications 97 Inappropriate Approaches 56 Physical Assault 10 Property Damages 18 Other 9 Total 190