Friday, May 24, 2013

Suspension Set Aside For Attorney Who Brought Contraband To Incarcerated Husband

The Oklahoma Supreme Court has ordered that an interim suspension of an attorney who entered a no contest plea to bringing contraband into a penal institution be set aside.

The matter is terminated without further disciplinary proceedings.

Esquire Empire had this report on the criminal case and resulting interim suspension:

The Oklahoma Supreme Court has suspended Tulsa attorney Sandra Lee Tolliver from the practice of law after Tolliver in February was handed an 18 month deferred sentence on a misdemeanor charge of bringing contraband into a jail. Tolliver was originally with a felony on the same allegations, in which she allegedly brought scissors, tweezers and a razor into the David L. Moss Criminal Justice Center.

Tolliver’s husband, Michael S. Tolliver, was charged on the same day with bringing contraband into jail. Charging information alleged he possessed the same items for which Sandra Tolliver was charged – scissors, tweezers and nail clippers. An affidavit of probable cause in Michael Tolliver’s misdemeanor case says a deputy reviewed surveillance video from the Tulsa jail and saw Sandra Tolliver remove large envelopes from a bag she’d carried into the jail visiting area and place them on top of paperwork Michael Tolliver had placed on the table. The deputy wrote that Michael Tolliver gathered the envelopes, placing one inside of others.

The same deputy reported that he listened to a phone conversation between Mr. and Mrs. Tolliver recorded later that night. In the conversation, Michael Tolliver reportedly told Sandra Tolliver he was on lock down because a jail official had found the “stuff” Sandra Tolliver had brought him. The affidavit says a jail officer had thrown the “big ass cookie away.” Sandra Tolliver reportedly replied “Oh no.”

The same deputy reported that he listened to another conversation recorded two days later – on Feb. 19, 2012, in which Michael Tolliver told Sandra Tolliver “I think next time you should just bring you (sic) files in and not your bag, that’s always clever.”

The deputy reported that he reviewed logs of attorneys, clergy and special visitors who signed into the jails and noticed Michael Tolliver had visited in with Sandra Tolliver — his wife and his attorney. In a recorded Feb. 22 interview with a deputy, Michael Tolliver denied having received contraband from his attorney and wife. He reportedly told the deputy he’d obtained the scissors, nail clippers and razor in question from another inmate. The affidavit says Michael Tolliver told the deputy “off the record, I will tell my wife not to bring in any more cookies” then asked the inmate for a bite of the cookie the deputy reportedly took from him, but then said “I’m just kidding.”

The charging document said jail staff also found pills in Michael Tolliver’s possession, which appeared to be vitamin C and omega 3 capsules, and some Godiva brand chocolate. Mr. Tolliver was being held in the jail awaiting pickup by United State’s Marshals. He was convicted in federal court in 2011, at the age of 61 on two counts of arson and to counts of use of fire to commit mail fraud in connection with fires in 2001 and 2003 at Tulsa rental properties. He was facing a 36 year prison sentence.

In the interim suspension of Sandra Tolliver’s law license, the court set a routine schedule in which she may show cause why the interim suspension should be set aside and set a May 9 deadline for any filings showing why a final order of discipline should not be imposed, to request a hearing, file a brief or submit evidence that might mitigate the severity of the discipline the court may impose.

The court rejected the claimed defense of ingorance of the law in connection with the criminal matter. (Mike Frisch)

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