Monday, May 9, 2005

Lawyers May Be Next Targets for Giving Loans to Judge

Former Kansas City Municipal Court Judge Deborah Neal entered a guilty plea last Tuesday in which she admitted to soliciting $28,000 of loans from lawyers who appeared before her and a bonding company, and stated that she gave favorable treatment to the lawyers in some cases.  Neal solicited the money because of an admitted gambling addiction.  Now comes the fall-out for the lawyers, who will certainly be looking at disciplinary proceedings and possibly criminal investigations for lending a judge money while they had matters pending before her.  In fact, an Assistant U.S. Attorney in Kansas City is quoted in a Kansas City Star article (here) stating that the loans may open up the attorneys to criminal charges.  A range of federal corruption statutes can be used, most likely Section 666 and the right of honest services theory for mail/wire fraud (assuming there were telephone calls or mailings).  As long as we're on the topic of legal ethics, is it proper for a federal prosecutor to comment publicly about possible criminal charges? The Legal Ethics Forum blog (here) highlighted the lawyers' potential exposure. (ph) 

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/whitecollarcrime_blog/2005/05/lawyers_may_be_.html

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