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Lawyer gets one-year suspension for misleading judge

VSBA Covington lawyer has his license suspended for a year for helping a client get his driving privileges restored without telling the judge about a hearing scheduled later that day on the client’s felony charge of unlicensed driving.

Marcus N. Perdue III apparently had the benefit of some good timing in his representation of Dayton Taylor in 2011. The Clifton Forge man wanted to get his driver’s license back after being declared an habitual offender, but he was facing a felony charge of driving while revoked.

Perdue filed a restoration petition with the Department of Motor Vehicles and got a hearing before Circuit Judge Malfourd W. Trumbo on the morning of Aug. 2.

A preliminary hearing on the felony charge of driving while revoked was scheduled that afternoon in general district court.

Perdue did not notify the state’s lawyers about the restoration petition, so there were no prosecutors in the courtroom when Trumbo heard the restoration petition in the morning.

Finding Taylor eligible for restoration, Trumbo asked Perdue “if there was anything else he needed to know in the matter,” according to findings of fact by a VSB’s disciplinary subcommittee.

Perdue stated there was nothing else the judge needed to know, according to the VSB charges. Perdue made no mention of the preliminary hearing scheduled later that day.

Things went well for Taylor after that. Trumbo restored his driving privileges. Based in part on the restoration order, Perdue then managed to get Taylor a plea deal for a misdemeanor charge at the afternoon hearing in general district court.

When Commonwealth’s Attorney Edward K. Stein found out about the deal, however, he cried foul. He said his office never had been notified about the restoration petition. He filed a motion to overturn the restoration order.

Alerted to the issues, Trumbo evidentially felt there was no need for a hearing on the matter. Through his secretary, Trumbo directed Stein to come directly to his chambers with an order vacating the restoration of Taylor’s driver’s license. The judge entered the order without endorsement by Perdue.

This time, it was Perdue who cried foul. He accused Stein and Trumbo of acting “with duplicitous intentions,” according to the bar’s charges. The allegation was unfounded and reckless, the bar charged.

Ultimately, Taylor got his license restored by a circuit judge, according to Stein, but not before he served 90 days in jail on the reduced charge of unlicensed driving.

Stein, who filed a bar complaint against Perdue, declined to comment on Perdue’s actions.

A VSB Disciplinary Board panel on Aug. 23 decided Perdue had committed misconduct, including knowingly making a false statement of fact or law to a tribunal. The Board ordered a one-year suspension.

In a separate matter, the board imposed a public reprimand of Perdue for allegedly providing advice in a letter to an unrepresented husband in a divorce case in which Perdue represented the wife. Perdue also was found to have verbally abused a police dispatcher in connection with that divorce case.

The VSB Disciplinary Board dismissed two charges related to Perdue’s Facebook activities. He was alleged to have posted comments on Facebook about his connections with potential jury members in a Bath County criminal case. He also was accused of having “friended” an adversary in a divorce case who was represented by counsel.

Perdue did not immediately respond to a call for comment.

Perdue was suspended for two concurrent 60-day periods in 2009 for two charges of misconduct. The VSB Disciplinary Board found Perdue was dishonest to a personal injury client about missing settlement money, and he allowed a criminal client to remain in jail for nearly a year when the client might have avoided jail time altogether, according to records of the VSB.

Perdue also received public reprimands in 2008 and 2009, according to records of the VSB.

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