Minneapolis lawyer allegedly bullied opposing attorney

  • Updated: May 10, 2012 - 9:19 PM

Three-member panel seeks suspension of Peter Nickitas, who has been admonished and suspended previously.

The Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility wants the state Supreme Court to suspend a Minneapolis attorney for violating professional conduct rules, including allegedly harassing and bullying another attorney.

The complaint alleges that Peter Nickitas insulted an opposing attorney during an arbitration hearing and later made multiple threatening and insulting comments. While leaving the courtroom, attorney Michelle Hurley said, Nickitas yelled at her, saying he hoped she "sleep[s] with the fishes."

Hurley said she was shocked. As she headed to the courthouse exit, she said Nickitas got in front of her and went nose-to-nose, screaming at her. The complaint said Nickitas had to be pulled away by an associate as a bailiff approached.

Hurley said that Nickitas scared her and that she refused to be alone with him and had another person accompany her to hearings where Nickitas was present.

The three-member panel that filed the disciplinary request also charged Nickitas with having a conflict of interest and not obtaining proper consent to represent a client.

Nickitas couldn't be reached for comment.

Nickitas has been privately admonished three times by the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility. And in 2005, the Supreme Court suspended Nickitas for 90 days for engaging in a consensual sexual relationship with a client, for entering into multiple business transactions with the client without written disclosure of the potential conflicts of interest and not advising the client to obtain independent counsel, and for failing to handle a client matter with adequate diligence and promptness.

Nickitas, who was reinstated to practice on Jan. 1, 2006, is currently representing a group that has filed a suit seeking to legalize gay marriage in Minnesota.

MARY LYNN SMITH

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