Saturday, February 25, 2023

Crazy Lawyer Story

I ran across an article from a few years ago about Oregon attorney (ex-attorney now) Megan Perry (Moeller) which highlights just how difficult it is to bring lawyers who commit crimes to justice. 

The story itself is crazy enough to serve as the basis for a Coen brothers movie. However, the most interesting part to me is the discussion about what to do when you catch a lawyer committing a crime. 

What do you do if someone steals money from you? Or if someone forges papers that harm you? What if someone kidnaps your child? The answer to all three questions, of course, is that you call the police.

Now, what if the person who does those things is an attorney?

Well, the answer is still to call the police. Theft, forgery, and child trafficking are crimes no matter who commits them.

Strangely though, there is tremendous public confusion about where to report criminal conduct committed by a lawyer. Instead of contacting law enforcement, victimized clients tend to call their state bar and report criminal conduct not as a violation of criminal statutes, but as a breach of bar rules.

That’s basically like contacting the DMV after a drunk driver plows into you, expecting them to investigate the accident and prosecute the drunk for violating the law. Obviously, the DMV doesn’t do that. The DMV is authorized under state statute only to regulate the licenses it issues, and is clearly not a special branch of law enforcement tasked with bringing drunk drivers to justice. Similarly, the state bar is authorized only to suspend or revoke a bad attorney’s privilege of practicing law. It is not a special police agency that investigates and prosecutes crimes committed by bad attorneys.

Law enforcement seems nearly as perplexed by this as the public is, often deferring to the bar’s handling of professional complaints against an attorney before deciding whether or not to ‘get involved’ in allegations of criminal conduct — or, conversely, failing to ‘get involved’ under the misconception that sanctions imposed by the bar can somehow resolve criminal acts by attorneys.

The last paragraph is important. When I caught Nelly Wince red-handed committing crimes, my first step was to file a complaint against her with he Lawyers Professional Responsibility Board. They white-washed it. I subsequently contacted John Choi, the County Attorney, who openly committed the crime of obstruction of justice in order to protect Wince. I also contacted both the FBI and the local police but neither bothered to look into the matter. No doubt because lawyers committing fraud is so common no one actually thinks it is a big deal.  Or they think, as the article indicates, the matter should be handled by the state bar. Either way, such actions (and inactions) reward criminals and harm innocent people. 

No comments:

Post a Comment