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Telling the Truth Costs A Lawyer Her License

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Headlined to H3 8/2/11

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Cross Posted at Legal Schnauzer

A state bar association has suspended the license of a lawyer for making truthful statements in court filings.

That sounds like a headline from The Onion. But as we reported in a  previous post, it is true. And now we have a document from the Alabama State Bar to prove it.

Angela Turner Drees (photo above) is fighting to get her law license reinstated, but for now it is suspended for one year. In what "misconduct" did Drees engage? She told the truth about the actions of another lawyer, and in the legal profession, that apparently can get you in trouble.

When it issues such decisions, does the Alabama State Bar expect the public to take them seriously? Better yet, how did the state bar become so dysfunctional that it would issue such a decision in the first place?

We suspect it's driven by many perverse "rules," both written and unwritten, that seem to permeate the legal profession. Consider just a few oddities that are present in the Angela Turner Drees case:

* Was the ruling against Angela Drees issued by a judge, someone with special knowledge and experience in such matters? Nope. It was issued by a regular lawyer, a guy who apparently is appointed to such duties because he's been around a long time.

* Was Angela Drees punished largely because she is a sole practitioner? The answer appears to be yes. The opposing lawyer in question, the one who really did make false statements in an official proceeding and admitted to it, belongs to a major downtown Birmingham firm. Has he been punished? Nope.

* Why did the opposing lawyer in the Drees case confess to having made false statements in a court proceeding? The answer, apparently, is this: A lawyer faces an automatic loss of his license if he is found to have lied to the bar; a lawyer who lies to a judge in open court can usually get away with it, especially if he belongs to a large firm or has political connections. In the perverse world of the "legal profession," lying to the bar is a very risky thing to do. Under such circumstances, even the worst legal scoundrels are likely to tell the truth. In this case, the truth revealed that Angela Turner Drees had been making factual statements all along. And yet, she's the one who had her license suspended.

Again, do bar associations expect the public to take them seriously?

This all grew out of Turner v. Turner, the kind of classic judicial con job that seems to regularly emanate from Alabama's domestic-relations courts. Here is how we described the basics in a previous post:

Turner v. Turner involves Kile Turner, the Turner in the title of [the Birmingham firm Norman Wood Kendrick and Turner], and Angela Turner Drees, who is also a lawyer and used to practice at the Birmingham firm Haskell Slaughter. The Turners were married and had triplets together before getting a divorce.

They initially had a shared-custody agreement, but that changed when Kile Turner stated under oath that Dr. Hajo Drees, Angela Turner Drees' current husband, had been convicted on two felony counts of domestic violence--one involving his ex wife and one involving his son. Richard Vincent, Kile Turner's attorney, seconded those statements in court proceedings, and that apparently played a key role in Turner receiving custody of the triplets, who are now 10 years old and have not seen their mother in two-plus years.

Are the charges that Kile Turner and his lawyer made against Hajo Drees true? Three public documents indicate they are not--and that Turner and Vincent now have acknowledged, in a proceeding before the Alabama State Bar, that they are not true.

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I live in Birmingham, Alabama, and work in higher education. I became interested in justice-related issues after experiencing gross judicial corruption in Alabama state courts. This corruption has a strong political component. The corrupt judges are (more...)
 
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the point. However I believe such a thing can only... by Archie on Tuesday, Aug 2, 2011 at 8:27:39 PM
based on what I've personally seen. Other lawyers ... by Daniel Geery on Wednesday, Aug 3, 2011 at 10:46:22 AM