N.H. Lawyer Who Sought ‘Out-of-Court’ Settlements Convicted of Extortion

March 24, 2008

A New Hampshire lawyer who says he was just trying to settle a case has been convicted of extortion.

Daniel Hynes of Manchester told a Concord hair salon to pay him $1,000 15 months ago or face a lawsuit because its different prices for men and women were discriminatory. In one court document, he said the unequal prices at Claudia Lambert’s salon caused him mental anguish. That’s even though the salon charged women more than men.

This week, a Manchester District Court jury convicted him of theft by extortion, a misdemeanor.

Hynes, 27, said he plans to appeal.

“The conviction goes against the First Amendment,” he said. “People have a right to petition the courts.”

Asked why he contacted the salon directly, he said he was seeking “as amicable a resolution as possible.”

Assistant Attorney General Elizabeth Baker said Hynes sent letters to at least 19 salons in the state. The one to Claudia’s said haircut prices should be based on the time required or the length of the customer’s hair, not gender.

“I demand payment in the amount of $1,000 in order to avoid litigation,” he wrote.

Lambert’s husband, Ben Nardi, contacted authorities, who arrested Hynes when he came to collect $500.

A jury deliberated for about 90 minutes last Wednesday before convicting Hynes, who was represented by a public defender. He faces up to a year in jail and a $2,000 fine.

He started practicing law in New Hampshire a month before sending the letter to Claudia’s.

The state Supreme Court committee the handles misconduct by lawyers probably will review the case, said Richard Uchida, a former member of the committee.


Information from: Concord Monitor, http://www.cmonitor.com

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