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Norfolk lawyer under fire after ‘snitch’ tirade

A Norfolk lawyer ordered to anger management for an outburst in the Norfolk courthouse now faces discipline by the Virginia State Bar for that and other matters.

The VSB has brought ethics charges against Herman C. Smith III over his acknowledged “rant” where he loudly labeled an armed robbery defendant as a “snitch” after learning the defendant would testify against his client.

Smith was charged with felony obstruction of justice for his tirade but he was allowed to plead guilty to misdemeanor contempt of court in July. He agreed to a 90-day suspended sentence, a $500 fine, 75 hours of community service and anger management counseling.

On March 26, two separate VSB disciplinary subcommittees certified misconduct charges against Smith. Based on the “snitch” harangue, Smith faces discipline for “a criminal or deliberately wrongful act that reflects adversely on the lawyer’s honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer.”

Another set of charges against Smith arises from representation of three criminal defendants seeking appeals with the Court of Appeals of Virginia. The VSB subcommittee said Smith failed to keep his clients advised of the status of their cases and – in two cases – vouched for client consent to motions without the clients’ knowledge.

Smith’s discipline case is among matters waiting to be scheduled for a hearing before a VSB Disciplinary Board panel.

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