What are We Getting Disbarred for Now?

/ 19.Feb, 2013

Another installment of our occasional series on recent Pennsylvania attorney discipline.  On Valentine’s Day, the Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania accepted the disbarment by consent of Bennett Elliott Langman.  Mr. Langman, who was admitted to the bar on June 1, 2007, was employed by the law firm of Mayfield, Turner, O’Mara, Donnelly & McBride, and performed work in defense of several elevator companies.  Mr. Langman was accused of “settling” a number of matters without permission from his clients, and then making false statements to the court about the clients’ ability to pay the settlements.  Mr. Langman also made false statements to clients about work that had been done on their cases, and billed for work that had not been done.

The temporary suspension of David J. Murphy, Esquire has been turned into a disbarment.  Mr. Murphy, 57, a former magistrate judge, was found guilty of 64 counts of forgery, after forging signatures on nominating petitions in connection with his re-election for Delaware County Magisterial District Judge.  The forgeries apparently came to light after Mr. Murphy’s paramour, Debra West, threatened to reveal the signatures were forgeries unless he gave her money.  The findings of the Disciplinary Board, as well as the statements of the judge at Mr. Murphy’s sentencing, make it clear that this is a situation where a single bad decision was sufficient to destroy legal career.

On January 23, 2013, the Disciplinary Board accepted the disbarment by consent of Mike Choi, Esquire.  Mr. Choi was found guilty on August 26, 2011, of participating in a conspiracy to illegally obtain green cards for immigrant clients.  Mr. Choi, 58, was a former chairman of the Pennsylvania Governor’s Advisory Commission on Asian-American Affairs.  Mr. Choi’s defense in his criminal trial was that his ex-wife, and former office manager, who was not an attorney, was in charge of immigration matters that the law firm.  We have previously written about the prevalence of immigration fraud and its ramifications both civil and criminal.

Arlin Ray Thrush, Esquire, has been disbarred for misappropriating funds from the estates of two decedents, neglecting the administration of another estate, and failing to communicate with the executor of an estate.  As we have previously noted, misappropriation of funds is one of the most common causes of attorney discipline, and mishandling of estates is a frequent cause for discipline.

-Josh J.T. Byrne, Esquire