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Copyright 2014 by Attorney Carlos Gamino
When lawyers make serious mistakes—essentially, when good lawyers go bad—they can be suspended or disbarred. When a lawyer is disbarred, he or she is banned from practicing law. It’s usually a last resort; in most cases, other disciplinary actions will be taken first.
What Leads to Disbarment?
It’s usually pretty rare for attorneys to completely lose their licenses. Sometimes it’s a little surprising when they don’t, such as the case of Andrea Celestine Long.
In 2003, Long failed to file a client’s appeal in time (she was four days late). While we all make mistakes, Long insisted that a court clerk stamped the wrong date on the paperwork. To add insult to injury, she wrote her client a letter that said, “While I do not know whether you are a religious man, I am a religious woman. I can’t help but believe [the error] had to be the work of God, since it was no fault of yours or mine. That means that there is some purpose that God has for you to remain in prison.”
When lawyers do get disbarred, it’s for serious reasons: just ask Jeffrey Marcalus, a former attorney in Maryland.
The Maryland Court of Appeals didn’t find it funny when he told the judge that he was only joking when he offered to find a client’s ex-girlfriend a “sugar daddy.” It might be believable that he was joking, except he gave the woman $60 to buy racy clothes for a photo shoot. Before that, he’d given a woman a Vicodin pill in exchange for a sex act—he was suspended for two months for that—and prior to that, he was suspended for sending a woman sexually explicit texts and touching her leg in a courthouse.
What do You Think?
Do you think our system is tough enough on lawyers who break the rules? I’d love to hear what you think, so join me on Facebook and share your thoughts.
Lawyers are only human, and we make mistakes just like everyone else does. However, there’s a big difference between bringing the wrong document to the courthouse and crossing the line with clients.
News from Attorney Carlos Gamino
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