January 31, 2009
An Offer To Refuse
The Missouri Supreme Court indefinitely suspended an attorney for a minimum of six months for misconduct committed during his representation of a defendant on felony forgery charges. The lawyer advised the prosecutor that his client was the godchild of Terry Bradshaw and offered a signed baseball of the former Super Bowl MVP in exchange for reduced charges against the client. The prosecutor disbelieved the story. The lawyer obtained a ball and sports cards from the client that Bradshaw purportedly had signed and told the prosecutor he that had it. The prosecutor was "shocked" and refused to accept the ball. The FBI later determined that the signature was forged (who would accept as genuine an "autographed" ball from a defendant accused of multiple forgeries) ?
Conversations between the lawyer and client about the offer were taped. He told the client that the charges could be "taken care of" in exchange for the signed ball. The lawyer falsely denied the offer until confronted with the incriminating tape. The lawyer was able to get a deferred prosecution agreement and was not convicted of any offense.
The court here refused to impose the sanction retroactive to the deferred prosecution, which had included a provision that he voluntarily cease practice for a year. The charges against the client were reduced, apparently not in exchange for sports memorabilia.
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