The Oklahoma Supreme Court has disbarred an Oklahoma City attorney who had been repeatedly arrested in alcohol related incidents. Court records and news reports detail several incidents involving alcohol, firearms, vehicle accidents, unruly conduct and arrests that preceded the court’s action to remove Lewis B. Moon from the practice of law.
Moon was sanctioned on Sept. 18 for three alcohol related incidents, resulting in a suspension of two years and a day. The court deferred the suspension, allowing Moon to continue practicing law as long as he complied with court instructions to address his problems with alcohol. The opinion was scarcely a day hold when the court learned that Moon was facing additional alcohol related legal problems
The day after the sanctions were handed down, the Oklahoma Bar Association notified the Supreme Court that Moon had been charged with another incident in May, which he had not reported to the court while his disciplinary proceedings were underway. “The charges are strikingly similar to those addressed in Moon I, i.e. impersonating a police officer, discharging a firearm, and disturbing the peace while intoxicated,” the court wrote in it’s January opinion.
The Bar Association requested Moon’s suspension. While that motion was moving toward a hearing before a professional responsibility trial panel, the court learned of yet another alcohol related incident in which Moon was later charged with attempted extortion, threatening a violent act and assault and battery. That incident involved Moon’s alleged effort to influence another attorney at a bar, allegedly battering the attorney and threatening to harm a member of the other attorney’s family.
According to the Supreme Court opinion, allegations in that case involved a dispute over the other attorney’s fee for representing the son of a man who was at the bar with Moon. When Moon joined the dispute, he allegedly threatened to kill the other attorney and a member of his family.
When the trial panel convened in late October, Moon’s counsel stipulated that he had consumed alcohol on two occasions — once in May and again in October. Moon’s filings had previously denied that he consumed alcohol in May. His counsel also agreed to the Bar Association’s motion for an interim suspension, and after the hearing stipulated immediate interim suspension of two years and a day, according to the Supreme Court document.
Moon’s counsel argued that Moon could not fully participate in the disciplinary proceedings without potentially compromising his defense strategy in pending criminal matters. He put on no defense during that disciplinary proceeding.
In an answer to briefs filed following the disciplinary hearing, Moon argued that the disciplinary proceeding forced him to choose between defending his law license or mounting an effective defense in his criminal cases. He argued that an attorney cannot be disbarred for exercising Fifth Amendment rights.
The court in its January opinion said its ruling had not disbarred Moon for exercising his right not to incriminate himself. “Our disciplinary rules contemplate that grievances may be prosecuted despite pending criminal or civil litigation,” the court opined.
The court noted it had previously extended leniency toward Moon, who had otherwise performed well for his clients in his capacity as an attorney. “Clear and convincing evidence” indicated Moon had continued using alcohol shortly after he testified at his first disciplinary hearing, and it was “clear” that Moon had falsely represented himself as a law enforcement officer, the court concluded. Leniency in the first disciplinary hearing failed to convince Moon of his obligations to the profession, to which he had become an embarrassment, the court wrote.
“..(T)he attorney’s actions have been dishonest, deceitful, and misleading resulting in embarrassment to the legal profession and this Court and an undermining of public confidence in the Bar Association and its members warranting disbarment and the payment of $2,415.79 in costs.” the court decided.
Read the complete Supreme Court opinion at: http://www.oscn.net/applications/oscn/DeliverDocument.asp?CiteID=468617