Disbarred? It Could Be Worse …

A lawyer in Louisiana was recently the victim of a double disbarment, being permanently disbarred by the Louisiana Supreme Court for continuing to work as an attorney for Verizon after being disbarred in 2002. The full opinion [PDF] outlines the scenario leading up to the permanent disbarment, requiring quite a bit of ongoing dishonesty on the part of former attorney James D. Turnage:

In September 2002, respondent [Turnage] was disbarred pursuant to this court’s order in Turnage I. However, he did not inform WorldCom of his disbarment and continued to work as an attorney…. Despite the fact that he was disbarred…[r]espondent continued to work as in-house counsel for Verizon, thereby falsely representing himself to be an attorney duly licensed and authorized to engage in the practice of law, until he was finally terminated in February 2011.

Eight years and change is a long time to work as a faux-attorney, and although the situation is clearly bad for Mr. Turnage, there is quite a bit of egg on Verizon’s face as well. How could a company continue to employ someone for that long without discerning that he was disbarred? Someone higher up the food chain is likely catching a lot of heat for this. This could cause significant problems for anything signed and submitted as an attorney by Turnage (as was noted by the court).

Of course, this is only applicable in Louisiana. Mr. Turnage could just go get licensed in another state, right? Right? Bueller?

(photo: Shutterstock: 54007744)