Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Suspended Notwithstanding Sympathy

An attorney who had practiced for approximately 60 years was suspended for 2 1/2 years by the Oklahoma Supreme Court.

The attorney had "provided services to indigent clients and championed unpopular causes" throughout his long career. His sole prior discipline was a three-month suspension for failure to file accountings in an estate matter.

Here, the attorney failed to communicate with clients, made misrepresentations to "clients, court clerk personnel, and th[e] Court," provided incompetent services and failed to respond. While the court had some sympathy for him, nonetheless:

While we are mindful of the respondent's current health issues and of the past important contributions the respondent has made to unpopular causes and clients, to his community, to this nation with his military service, and to the bench and bar, we cannot ignore the clear and convincing evidence of his current unfitness to practice law. [He] has repeatedly failed competently and diligently to represent his clients. He has shown contempt for the Bar and for this Court by his refusal to respond to disciplinary inquiries, by making at least one deceptive filing regarding the state of a record on appeal, and by alleging, without a scintilla of evidence, that the proceedings against him have been tainted by prejudice.

A sad likely end to a long career. (Mike Frisch)

Bar Discipline & Process | Permalink

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Unless the various courts and bar associations take the affirmative and concrete action required to put alternative programs in place to insure that the public is protected and, at the same time, provide dignity for the elder lawyer, sad stories such as this will become the norm. NOBC and APRL issued a joint report on this problem years ago. Apparently the powers that be either don't see a problem, or lack the will to take action.

Posted by: fred ours | Sep 21, 2011 8:15:29 AM

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