Things You Probably Could Guess Would Make You Lose Your License (Late 2012 Edition)

/ 07.Dec, 2012
Beating your client with a baseball bat: West Virginia attorney, Joshua Robinson, lost his law license after beating his client David Gump with a baseball bat.  The beating began on Mr. Robinson’s front porch, and Mr. Robinson chased Mr. Gump down the street and continued to beat him after Mr. Gump fell down.  Mr. Robinson requested a suspension rather than disbarment based on an argument that Mr. Gump was a drug addict who showed up at his house to demand money for drugs.  The decision of the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals was based, at least in part, on the fact that Mr. Robinson had previously been found guilty of throwing a propane tank through the windshield of his wife’s car.  The court also noted other aggravating factors including: lack of remorse; lack of full disclosure; conversion of settlement funds belonging to his grandfather; and a pattern of not following court orders.  Mr. Robinson will not be eligible for reinstatement until he has completed an examination by a psychiatrist and completed extensive anger management. Counseling clients to break and enter other people’s homes: California attorney, Michael T. Pines, not only lost his license, but has been sentenced to three years of probation after pleading guilty to stalking, trespassing, attempted extortion and other charges.  Mr. Pines also faced charges of practicing law with a suspended license.  Mr. Pines advised clients to break into their former homes which had been lost in foreclosure.  Mr. Pines took it upon himself to stalk and harass the current occupants of those homes. Altering DWI records for clients: North Carolina attorney, James Crouch, has pled guilty to backdating conviction records in a number of DWI cases in an attempt to get his clients lesser sentences.  Mr. Crouch’s been sentenced to 12 to 34 months in prison, and was disbarred on consent. As we have often encouraged, a little bit of thinking before acting goes a long way in our profession.  Best practices generally include not beating your clients, committing criminal acts, and/or falsifying records.  All of these acts can lead to professional liability actions, loss of license, and/or prison.

-Josh J.T. Byrne, Esquire