Wednesday, October 2, 2013
An attorney who was involved in a bribe in a DUI case was suspended for two years and a day by the Oklahoma Supreme Court.
The court described the circumstances:
The Respondent was a partner, along with Josh T. Welch, in the law firm Ogle & Welch, located in Oklahoma City. The Respondent's nephew, Robert Samuel Kerr, IV, joined the firm as a legal intern and then as an associate after being admitted to the Oklahoma Bar Association in 2006. In 2007, Ogle & Welch represented a client charged with the misdemeanor crime of driving under the influence of alcohol. Kerr was to represent the client before the Department of Public Safety (DPS). The firm actively took part in a series of transactions that led to an Edmond police officer receiving money as a bribe so that he would not appear at the DPS hearing. The firm made contact with a former Edmond police officer, Chris Caplinger, to assist in the bribe offer...
As to sanction:
Ogle's conduct occurred during the course of his practice of law and within the attorney-client relationship. That conduct places into question his professional honesty and his dedication to the administration of justice. Such conduct, admitted by Ogle in his testimony and briefs, has brought disrepute upon the legal profession and reflects adversely on his fitness as a lawyer. Ogle did not instigate the bribe, but he chose not to stop it or report it, and he facilitated it. He chose to say nothing when evidence of the investigation came to light. He lied to the District Attorney and others during the investigation. We consider the harm caused to the public perception of the judicial system as a whole to be more significant than the mitigating factors introduced. We agree with the recommendation of the PRT that suspension from the practice of law for a period of two years and one day is appropriate discipline in this matter.
The nephew received the same sanction. There the court noted:
Several mitigating factors must be taken into consideration when deciding on the correct discipline in this case. Respondent was twenty-eight years old when the bribery incident occurred and had been an attorney less than a year. The respondent's uncle, David Ogle, was his principal employer and undoubtedly exercised more influence over him than would normally be found in an employer-employee relationship, given the added component of familial relationships. Respondent did not initiate the illegal scheme and acted under the direction of his supervisors, Josh Welch and David Ogle. No evidence indicates Respondent benefitted personally from the bribery conspiracy. The Respondent has cooperated with the Bar Association and with other authorities investigating the matter and has agreed to assist in future prosecutions. No other grievances have been filed against the Respondent and he has complied with the terms and conditions of his deferred sentence.