Thursday, October 10, 2019

Poor Judgment

The Oklahoma Supreme Court imposed an interim suspension for a criminal conviction

On September 11, 2019, Shelley Lynne Levisay entered the plea of no contest to a felony charge of Harboring a Fugitive From Justice in violation of 21 O.S. 2011 §440, which occurred from December 29, 2017 through January 24, 2018. Levisay was convicted of felony Harboring a Fugitive and sentenced to a two year suspended sentence, 100 hours of community service and a fine of $5,000.

Next step

Rule 7.2 of the RGDP provides that a certified copy of a plea of guilty, an order deferring judgment and sentence, or information and judgment and sentence of conviction "shall constitute the charge and be conclusive evidence of the commission of the crime upon which the judgment and sentence is based and shall suffice as the basis for discipline in accordance with these rules." Pursuant to Rule 7.4 of the RGDP, Shelley Lynne Levisay has until November 19, 2019, to show cause in writing why a final order of discipline should not be imposed, to request a hearing, or to file a brief and any evidence tending to mitigate the severity of discipline. The OBA has until December 4, 2019, to respond.

Oklahoma's News 4 reported

An attorney who prosecutors say harbored her fugitive boyfriend entered a blind plea in front of a Cleveland County judge Wednesday.

34-year-old Shelley Levisay sat in court as investigators testified for hours about their search for her former boyfriend and client, Adrian "David" Gerdon.

Gerdon was wanted at the time in a string of violent crimes.

Prosecutors say she helped hide him in a travel trailer in Cleveland County showing surveillance video from January 2018 of Levisay bringing him food and money.

A tip led authorities to the trailer last year where they found Gerdon and a number of firearms.

Gerdon is known to law enforcement as extremely violent, according to testimony Wednesday.

Prosecutors pointed to one text message where Levisay asked Gerdon if he was okay when she heard about an officer-involved shooting in the area.

Investigators also obtained jail phone calls between Gerdon and Levisay.

In one, Levisay said, "I went to college for seven years. I'm a good attorney."

Prosecutors say she used her law license to hide a violent criminal and put law enforcement, along with a woman he assaulted during his hideout, in harm's way.

Levisay took the stand saying she had poor judgment and that she was abused by Gerdon.

But she also testified that she just broke up with Gerdon six weeks ago and mirrors her relationship with him in a book she wrote last year.

​Her attorney asked the judge to give her a deferred sentence to keep her from becoming a convicted felon, but ultimately Judge Thad Balkman said Levisay took an oath when she became an attorney to uphold the law, and he handed down a conviction.

Levisay was also sentenced to 100 hours of community service.

She has 10 days to withdraw her plea.

The bar association has its own disciplinary procedure.

Because this is a felony conviction, Levisay's license is in jeopardy.

In an unrelated matter, the court imposed a two-year suspension for a manslaughter conviction

On July 31, 2018, the Oklahoma Bar Association (Bar Association), filed Notice of Judgment and Sentence regarding the respondent, Emma Barlie Arnett, notifying the Court of her criminal conviction of manslaughter. Subsequently, on September 10, 2018, we issued an Order of Immediate Suspension. The Professional Responsibility Tribunal (PRT) held a disciplinary proceeding on April 22, 2019, to consider a recommendation of final discipline and gather mitigating evidence.

Tulsaworld reported

A local attorney was sentenced to four years in prison Monday after pleading guilty to first-degree manslaughter in a 2017 drunken driving auto-pedestrian crash.

Emma Barlie Arnett, a 43-year-old attorney who worked for the Department of Human Services, did not have a plea recommendation from the state when she pleaded guilty to killing 26-year-old Christopher Brown while driving under the influence near 51st Street and Delaware Avenue early Aug. 27.

Court records indicate that she had a 0.142 blood alcohol concentration at the time blood was drawn for testing and that although she declined to take a breath test, she failed a field sobriety test.

District Judge Doug Drummond ruled at the conclusion of a sentencing hearing Monday that Arnett should spend four years in prison with another eight years suspended, as well as pay a $1,000 fine. She will have a judicial review July 1, which could result in a modification of her sentence.

In deciding the sentence, Drummond said he took into account that Brown could have been hit by anyone because he was walking in a lane of traffic on 51st Street, but he said Arnett — given her level of intoxication — should not have been driving at all.

“I’m very sorry that all of this has happened,” Arnett, speaking through tears, told the court. She thanked her family and friends for their support, as well as thanked members of Brown’s family, who she said gave her a “great gift of grace and compassion” through their victim impact statements.

Brown’s brother, Lawrence, said Arnett’s choices “fundamentally changed our family,” and he expressed frustration that she, despite being a longtime attorney, broke the law. However, he and his father said they wanted to see Arnett grow from the experience and told her they would be at peace with whatever the court believed was appropriate.

Assistant District Attorney Kevin Gray, in his request for prison time, said the situation was “doubly tragic” because Arnett by all counts led a productive life and had significant support from her loved ones before she caused Brown’s death. Gray said Brown’s life, despite any struggles he may have had, had value and that Arnett should face legal consequences for her actions.

Arnett’s attorney, Ben Fu, said his client will live with what took place for the rest of her life, and he said the facts of the case did not merit a lengthy period of incarceration.

(Mike Frisch)

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