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Pennsylvania Attorney Robert Mitchell Accused of Forwarding Partner’s Emails to Himself
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Summary: A Pennsylvania attorney allegedly canceled his former partner’s email account and had emails forwarded to his email account instead of forwarding them to the partner.

A Pennsylvania lawyer is accused of rerouting the emails of a former partner to himself. The lawsuit filed in New Jersey federal court alleges that Robert A. Mitchell of Doylestown violated federal and state electronic privacy laws.

  
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Mitchell is accused of violating the Electronic Communications Privacy Act as well as wiretap laws in New Jersey and Pennsylvania when he used his position in the law firm to take control of a former partner’s email account.

The plaintiffs, current and former presidents of the Philadelphia Gun Club are seeking damages to cover legal bills owed to Mitchell for his former law firm’s handling of their litigation cases. The law allows civil lawsuits by those whose electronic communications are intercepted, setting damages at $100 per day of each violation or $10,000, whichever is greater.

The lawsuit alleges that Mitchell diverted emails from the gun club to himself between February 2015 and June 2015. Former partner Sean Corr was handling the gun club’s cases and was directed by the gun club to take their cases with him when he left the law firm to form his own practice. He left Corr Mitchell in November 2014. Corr created a new email account with instructions for the New Jersey-based technology consultants tasked with shutting down Corr Mitchell to forward any of his emails to his new account. The complaint suggests that Mitchell “used his position as the managing partner” of the firm to reauthorize Corr’s instructions, instead directing the technology consultants to completely shut down his old account.

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During this time, Mitchell kept a second email account using Corr’s old email address. Any emails sent to that email address were routed to Mitchell’s personal server created with GoDaddy. He never forwarded any of the emails to Corr and never told him about the setup Mitchell had created.

The way Mitchell set up the account by using Corr’s old email address made it so none of the emails were bounced back as undeliverable to the senders. By June 2015, Corr started to think something was not right and reached out to Mitchell to find out what was going on. The suit says Mitchell’s response “began the process of revealing” what had happened.



Mitchell told the ABA Journal that he was “surprised by the filing” and that “the facts were misrepresented.” He explained that their firm has been dissolved, pending before a Pennsylvania state court. In that case, the judge found ruled that Mitchell never read the emails so no breach of ethics had transpired. Mitchell testified in December 2015 that he was unsure when he canceled Corr’s original account and he did not realize that canceling the account made the emails automatically forward to a previous account that had been dormant. He claims to have no knowledge of the dormant account and never viewed the emails intended for Corr.

Corr was working on a case for the gun club against an animal rights group that the club claimed was stalking and harassing their members. The animal rights group, Showing Animals Respect and Kindness denied the allegations so the judge dropped the case. The gun club communicated with Corr primarily by email. Even though Corr had shared his new email with the gun club, a few of the emails sent by the club were sent to his old email address.

What motive do you think Mitchell could have if he wasn’t reading the emails? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below.

To learn more other cases involving animal rights issues, read these articles:

Photo: publicdomainpictures.net



 

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