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VSB order recommends no reinstatement for Morrissey

The Virginia State Bar Disciplinary Board has issued its formal order recommending denial of Del. Joe Morrissey’s petition for reinstatement of his law license.

The order restates at considerably greater length – 63 pages to be exact – the findings Board Chairman William E. Glover announced back in May at the end of a two-day hearing on Morrissey’s petition.

It acknowledges testimony that “Morrissey is generous, hard working [and] well liked among those whose lives he has touched” and is “a talented lecturer and advocate.”

But the order says, “During the years prior to his revocation, Morrissey’s actions directly and repeatedly injured the image of the Bar and the legal process in the eyes of the public. He engaged in fist fights, castigated and disobeyed judges and used the resolution of cases to bolster his political objectives. He spoke to the press in direct violation of a court order. He attempted to avoid the sanctions imposed upon him for contempt.”

The report emphasizes Morrissey’s failure to fully disclose his disbarment by a federal court in addition to the VSB revocation when he sought to win a license to practice law in Australia. “Morrissey’s actions in Australia and in the United States in the last 10 years give the Board no reason to believe that Morrissey intends or is even capable of demeaning himself in a manner so as to foster confidence in the in the administration of justice.”

Morrissey’s license was suspended for three years in 1999 and revoked in April 2003 because he did not notify clients of the suspension. After his license was suspended, he taught at law schools in Ireland and Australia before returning to this country and winning election to the House of Delegates in 2007. He serves as the House minority whip.

The Disciplinary Board’s order goes to the Supreme Court of Virginia, which has the final say on reinstatement requests.

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