Mor­ris­sey ap­peal­ing his 2nd law li­cense re­vo­ca­tion

Richmond Times-Dispatch - - LOCAL PERSPECTIVES - BY FRANK GREEN fgreen@times­dis­ (804) 649-6340

Rich­mond lawyer Joe Mor­ris­sey ex­pects the Vir­ginia Supreme Court to act Thurs­day on his re­quest for a stay while he ap­peals the re­vo­ca­tion of his law li­cense ef­fec­tive Fri­day.

His lawyer, Wil­liam M. Stan­ley Jr., said they have filed a no­tice of ap­peal and as­sign­ments of er­ror in Rich­mond Cir­cuit Court, and a stay re­quest with the high court. The Vir­ginia State Bar has un­til 2 p.m. on Thurs­day to re­spond to the Supreme Court.

Stan­ley said he and Mor­ris­sey were grate­ful that the jus­tices are con­sid­er­ing the mat­ter on such short no­tice be­fore the re­vo­ca­tion takes ef­fect Fri­day. The fi­nal order of the three-judge panel did not reach the Supreme Court un­til Mon­day.

The three judges held a week­long hear­ing in March on pro­fes­sional mis­con­duct al­le­ga­tions filed by the Vir­ginia State Bar against Mor­ris­sey, a for­mer state del­e­gate, Rich­mond com­mon­wealth’s at­tor­ney and Rich­mond may­oral can­di­date.

Eigh­teen of 21 charges brought by the bar were dis­missed. Two of those that were not dis­missed were tech­ni­cal in na­ture, Stan­ley said.

But the judges found he com­mit­ted a crim­i­nal or de­lib­er­ately wrong­ful act that re­flects ad­versely on the lawyer’s hon­esty, trust­wor­thi­ness or fit­ness to prac­tice law.

In 2014, Mor­ris­sey en­tered an Al­ford plea and was con­victed of a mis­de­meanor charge of con­tribut­ing to the delin­quency of a mi­nor in­volv­ing sex­ual re­la­tions with his then-17year-old office re­cep­tion­ist, whom he later mar­ried. The bar ar­gued that the mis­con­duct was es­pe­cially egre­gious and un­der­mined public con­fi­dence in the le­gal pro­fes­sion.

In seek­ing a stiff sanc­tion, the bar ar­gued that Mor­ris­sey had a “pat­tern of mis­con­duct” that went back decades.

In its June 8 fi­nal order, the three-judge panel noted that Mor­ris­sey’s prior dis­ci­plinary record in­cluded three dis­missals with terms, a private rep­ri­mand, a public rep­ri­mand, a six-month sus­pen­sion of his li­cense, a three-year sus­pen­sion, and the re­vo­ca­tion of his li­cense in 2003. His li­cense was re­stored by the Vir­ginia Supreme Court in 2012.

The judges also ruled that Mor­ris­sey vi­o­lated two rules of con­duct in con­nec­tion with an­other at­tor­ney in his office who rep­re­sented a man in King and Queen County on Mor­ris­sey’s be­half be­fore she was com­pletely qual­i­fied to do so. She had passed her bar exam but not yet taken the oath of fidelity to Vir­ginia.

The panel cleared him of mis­con­duct charges stem­ming from his rep­re­sen­ta­tion of the planned Vir­ginia Slav­ery Mu­seum in com­plaints filed by for­mer Gov. L. Douglas Wilder, the founder of the now-de­funct mu­seum.

The judges re­voked his li­cense ef­fec­tive June 15.


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