Wednesday, September 25, 2013

When An Attorney Becomes A Client's Customer...

An attorney who purchased cocaine from a client he was defending in a criminal case was disbarred by the Oklahoma Supreme Court.

The attorney had sought lesser discipline based on proferred mitigation that, among other things,  he had cooperated with criminal authorities and had only used cocaine to keep him awake and attentive to his high-caseload practice.

The court did not buy this:

This Court does not agree that all the factors proposed by [the attorney] are mitigating. [His] cooperation in the government's case was compelled by the plea agreement. While [he] contends he did not intend to personally gain from his wrongful acts, the evidence reveals he was accepting the cocaine as a reduction of his fee for services rendered in his representation of his client. For a member of the bar to knowingly participate in a criminal enterprise with a client while representing the client in ongoing criminal matters offsets many of the Respondent's claims of mitigation. The effect of such intentional acts on the legal profession as a whole cannot be overly minimized. His clients in the present matter actively assisted the authorities in the development of the criminal case against the Respondent.

Possession of cocaine is a felony in Oklahoma. (Mike Frisch)

Bar Discipline & Process | Permalink

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