Hello everyone and welcome to this Ethics Alert, which will discuss a recent disbarment of a lawyer who continued to practice law for 17 years while suspended for failing to pay the annual registration fee. The case is Office of Disciplinary Counsel v. Jason Michael Purcell, No. 2651 Disciplinary Docket 3, No. DB 2018 and the October 31, 2019 Pennsylvania Supreme Court Order disbarring the lawyer with the detailed Report and Recommendations of the Pennsylvania Disciplinary Board dated September 4, 2019 is here: https://www.pacourts.us/assets/opinions/DisciplinaryBoard/out/142DB2018-Purcell.pdf
According to the Disciplinary Board Report, the lawyer was suspended on December 1, 2002, for failing to pay his annual attorney registration fee; however, he continued to claim that he was a practicing attorney through social media. He claimed on LinkedIn that he had “15-plus years of diverse legal experience” and that he was licensed to practice in California, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania and the District of Columbia.
The lawyer also falsely claimed that he held several jobs in the legal field, including working as in-house counsel and an associate broker for a private boutique real estate firm in New York from 2012 to 2017. The Report also found that the lawyer had appeared as counsel in a drunken driving case and custody matter in 2005, worked as counsel of record in a drug case, and helped prepare a petition to recanvass voting machines in 2006.
The lawyer also represented an individual in an abuse protection matter in 2018 and told the judge in that matter that he had been reinstated; however, he never provided any documents showing that he had been reinstated.
According to the Report: “During his lengthy period of administrative suspension, respondent engaged in serious professional misconduct by continuing to hold himself out to the public as an active member of the Pennsylvania Bar and representing clients in at least five legal matters in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.”
The lawyer was also convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol twice and he was charged with a third DUI in 2006; however, he failed to appear in the case.
The lawyer failed to respond to the disciplinary charges and did not appear at the disciplinary hearing. The Supreme Court adopted the findings in the Board report and disbarred the lawyer.
Bottom line: It is very surprising, to say the least, that this lawyer was able to practice for 17 years while under suspension for failing to pay his annual attorney registration fee. It is somewhat more surprising that the lawyer did not address and pay the registration fee and request reinstatement. Finally, it is surprising that the lawyer failed to participate in the disciplinary proceedings; however, this may be at least partially explained by the fact that he was convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol twice and was charged with a third DUI in 2006, but failed to appear.
Be careful out there.
Disclaimer: this e-mail is not an advertisement, does not contain any legal advice, and does not create an attorney/client relationship and the comments herein should not be relied upon by anyone who reads it.
Joseph A. Corsmeier, Esquire
Law Office of Joseph A. Corsmeier, P.A.
2999 Alt. 19, Suite A
Palm Harbor, Florida
Office (727) 799-1688
Fax (727) 799-1670
Please note: My office has moved and the new office address is 2999 Alt. 19, Palm Harbor, FL 34683. All other contact information remains the same.