April 27, 2011
A Second Chance
The Oklahoma Supreme Court has reinstated an attorney who had been suspended for two years and a day for perjury and deceit. The court described the misconduct:
The record reflects that [the attorney] was admitted to the Oklahoma Bar Association in 1990. He moved back to his hometown of Eufaula, Oklahoma, and began practicing law. Shortly afterwards, he became involved in business matters with Joe Johnson, the mayor of Eufaula and a long-time friend. The complaint against [him] that led to his suspension was filed on July 2, 2001, and was based on three matters referred to as The Cargile Matter (11 counts), The Water Companies (3 counts) and MegaStar Entertainment Center (2 counts). [The attorney] was exonerated on numerous charges, including the two counts related to MegaStar. A detailed account of [his] misconduct and the evidence that led to his suspension is set out in this Court's opinion...The serious misconduct for which [he] was disciplined included falsely notarizing an affidavit, inducing his secretary to falsely notarize an affidavit, lying under oath on several occasions and concealing from the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, the city council and the public that Mayor Johnson owned an interest in two water companies. [He] was not charged with or convicted of any crimes.
The court was persuaded that reinstatement is appropriate:
In the present matter, there has been a considerable lapse of time between the misconduct and the application for reinstatement. The petitioner was not charged with or convicted of any crime. The petitioner had not been disciplined previously. The evidence before us reflects petitioner's consciousness of his wrongful conduct and of the shame and disrepute he has brought upon himself, his family and the legal profession. The evidence reflects that his conduct since suspension has been exemplary. The petitioner's testimony reflects his regret and remorsefulness, and his dedication to setting a good example to atone for his past misconduct. The evidence reflects that [he] does not pose a threat to the public nor is there a threat of repeat behavior. The Respondent has shown that reinstatement is important to him by meeting the mandatory continuing legal requirements each year and keeping current on oil and gas law.
The evidence reflects that [he] has proven himself rehabilitated according the rules of this Court and that he is entitled to be reinstated. [He] established by clear and convincing evidence that he has not engaged in the unauthorized practice of law in the State of Oklahoma, that he possesses the competency and learning in the law required for reinstatement to the Oklahoma Bar Association and that he possesses the good moral character that will entitled him to be readmitted. By granting the petition for reinstatement, we are giving [him] a second chance. The petitioner is aware that his law license is dependent upon his maintaining the high standards required of a member of the Bar.
The bar had taken no position on reinstatement. One of the petitioner's character witnesses was former Congressman J.C.Watts. (Mike Frisch)
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