The Oatmeal and Carreon: Violating the First Rule
The first rule is that when you find yourself in a hole, you should stop digging.
Readers will recall Charles Carreon attempted to extort $20,000 from Matthew Inman, the author of The Oatmeal, over extremely dubious claims of violations of the law. Inman responded with a a charitable fundraiser, trying to raise that $20,000 to be split between the National Wildlife Federation and the American Cancer Society. And Inman said unkind, if perhaps accurate, things about Mr. Carreon and his client, FunnyJunk, LLC.
So far, Inman has raised $191,275. That’s right. Approaching ten times the goal.
As WC predicted, it’s dangerous waving all that green around a contingency fee lawyer. Mr. Carreon has now filed a lawsuit against Inman. Not content with that, Mr. Carreon has also sued IndieGoGo, the host of the fund raising campaign. And the National Wildlife Federation. And the American Cancer Society. To borrow Mr. Inman’s phrase, this is some serious douchebaggery.
Mr. Carreon found himself in a hole after Inman’s inspired response. But instead of climbing out of the hole, Mr. Carreon has insisted on continuing to dig. Based upon WC’s review of the complaint, Mr. Carreon has moved into serious civil sanction territory. It won’t be a first offense, either. Mr. Carreon’s escutcheon is seriously blemished. This is from the Oregon Bar Association web site:
CHARLES H. CARREON
Effective Oct. 24, 2005, the disciplinary board approved a stipulation for discipline suspending Ashland lawyer, Charles H. Carreon, from the practice of law for 60 days. Carreon admitted violations of DR 3-101(B) (unlawful practice of law) and DR 9-101(A) (failing to deposit or maintain client funds in trust).
From Fall 2001 to Spring 2002, Carreon was employed by SEG as house counsel for its U.S. legal matters and business operations in British Columbia, when Carreon was not admitted or licensed to practice law in any province in Canada. Carreon did not apply for or obtain a permit to act as house counsel for SEG, in violation of British Columbia rules.
As counsel for SEG, Carreon held in his trust account settlement proceeds for the benefit of SEG, received in connection with a litigation matter. Without consulting with SEG or obtaining its express consent, Carreon utilized $1,400 of the settlement proceeds to pay a portion of a money judgment that had been entered against Carreon and his wife for a residential lease they signed in connection with his employment in Canada, believing that SEG would ultimately be responsible for his lease obligation.
In the stipulation, Carreon admitted that acting as house counsel in Canada was in violation of regulations of the profession in that jurisdiction, and that by utilizing the client settlement funds, he failed to properly maintain client funds in his lawyer trust account.
Carreon’s sanction was aggravated by a selfish motive, multiple offenses and his substantial experience in the practice of law. Carreon was admitted in Oregon in 1993 and in California in 1987. However, in mitigation, the stipulation recited that Carreon had no prior discipline and that he displayed a cooperative attitude toward the disciplinary proceedings.
Carreon was let off very, very lightly. WC knows of other lawyers who have suffered felony convictions for raiding the client trust account. California sanctioned Mr. Carreon for the same conduct, although it imposed some additional probation. This is the piece of work that is suing Inman. And IndieGoGo. And, unbelievably, the NWF and ACS.
It’s too much to hope that Mr. Carreon will stop digging the hole deeper. But, since he represents himself, perhaps he can reflect on the adage that a person representing themselves has a fool for a client. Or, as PopeHat puts it, “pro se” means ”I am attorney but am representing only myself” and “I will continue to wreak havoc until forcibly medicated.”
Perhaps Mr. Carreon should take his medication. Or, better still, consult with a competent, objective attorney.