V I R G I N I A :
BEFORE THE THREE-JUDGE COURT PRESIDING
IN THE CIRCUIT COURT FOR FAUQUIER COUNTY
VIRGINIA STATE BAR,
In Chancery No. CH01-109
JOHN CARTER MORGAN, JR.,
ON THE 1st day of August, 2001, this matter came before the Three-Judge Court empaneled on July 3, 2001, by designation of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Virginia, pursuant to ß54.1-3935 of the 1950 Code of Virginia, as amended, consisting of the Honorable Joseph E. Spruill, Jr., and the Honorable Frank A. Hoss, Jr., retired Judges of the Fifteenth and Thirty-First Judicial Circuits, respectively, and by the Honorable Paul F. Sheridan, Judge of the Seventeenth Judicial Circuit and Chief Judge of the Three-Judge Court.
Seth M. Guggenheim, Assistant Bar Counsel, appeared on behalf of the Virginia State Bar, and Stephen R. Pickard, Esquire, appeared on behalf of Respondent, John Carter Morgan, Jr., who was also present during the proceedings.
WHEREUPON, a hearing was conducted upon the Rule to Show Cause issued against the Respondent, John Carter Morgan, Jr., which Rule directed him to appear and to show cause why his license to practice law in the Commonwealth of Virginia should not be further suspended or revoked.
FOLLOWING the presentation of all evidence, both by way of stipulation of counsel and testimonial and documentary evidence presented in open court, and argument on behalf of the Virginia State Bar and the Respondent by their respective counsel, the Three-Judge Court deliberated, and made the following findings of fact:
1. The Respondent, John Carter Morgan, Jr., is an active member of the Virginia State Bar, who is not in good standing.
2. On December 4, 2000, in the Circuit Court of Fauquier County, Virginia, the Respondent, John Carter Morgan, Jr., entered pleas of guilty to, and was convicted of, two felonies: attempted possession of cocaine (offense date: January 6, 2000), in violation of ß18.2-250; 257 of the 1950 Code of Virginia, as amended, and possession of cocaine (offense date: December 15, 1999), in violation of ß18.2-250 of the said Code.
3. That the Respondent's commission of the felony offense of attempted possession of cocaine involved the Respondent's attempt to purchase cocaine from his court-appointed client, whom the Respondent was then defending on unrelated criminal charges.
UPON CONSIDERATION WHEREOF, the Three-Judge Court found by clear and convincing evidence that Respondent has committed violations of the following provisions of the Virginia Code of Professional Responsibility and Rules of Professional Conduct:
DR 1-102. Misconduct.
(A) A lawyer shall not:
(3) Commit a crime or other deliberately wrongful act that reflects adversely on the lawyer's fitness to practice law.
RULE 1.2 Scope of Representation
(c) A lawyer shall not counsel a client to engage, or assist a client, in conduct that the lawyer knows is criminal or fraudulent, but a lawyer may discuss the legal consequences of any proposed course of conduct with a client and may counsel or assist a client to make a good faith effort to determine the validity, scope, meaning, or application of the law.
RULE 8.4 Misconduct
It is professional misconduct for a lawyer to:
(b) commit a criminal or deliberately wrongful act that reflects adversely on the lawyer's honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer[.]
AFTER DUE CONSIDERATION of the evidence and the nature of the ethical misconduct committed by the Respondent, the Three-Judge Court reached the unanimous decision that Respondent's license to practice law in the Commonwealth of Virginia should be suspended for a period of three (3) years, effective January 8, 2001. In electing to suspend, versus revoke, the Respondent's license to practice law in the Commonwealth of Virginia, the Three-Judge Court balanced against his ethical misconduct the Respondent's record of public service, church participation, family situation, and his substantial efforts to rehabilitate himself from the use of illegal drugs, and the consequences thereof.
THE THREE-JUDGE COURT was of the further unanimous opinion that the said suspension of Respondent's license to practice law should be conditioned upon the fulfillment of certain terms. Upon hearing the ruling of the Three-Judge Court, delivered from the bench, Counsel for the parties thereupon stipulated in open court to the inclusion of such terms in the Order to be rendered in this case so as to remove any jurisdictional impediment to the Three-Judge Court's imposition of such terms by reason of the provisions of Part Six, ßIV, 13(E), of the Rules of the Supreme Court of Virginia. In consideration of the Virginia State Bar's willingness to enter into such stipulation, the Respondent, by counsel, waived his right to appeal that portion of the ruling of the Three-Judge Court suspending his license to practice law in the Commonwealth of Virginia. It is, accordingly,
ORDERED that the license of Respondent, John Carter Morgan, Jr., to practice law in the Commonwealth of Virginia be, and the same hereby is, SUSPENDED for a period of three (3) years, effective January 8, 2001; and it is further
ORDERED that said suspension be, and it hereby is, conditioned upon:
1. Respondent's observance, during the remaining period of suspension of his license to practice law, of those requirements imposed upon him as conditions of his probation and suspended criminal sentences for the aforementioned two (2) felony convictions; and
2. Respondent's continued persistent demonstration, during the remaining period of suspension of his license to practice law, of an effort at self-help, through regular attendance at Alcoholics Anonymous and/or continuous and uninterrupted participation in such other program(s) or regimen(s) appropriate to his rehabilitation; and it is further
ORDERED that in the event Respondent fails to comply with the aforesaid terms upon which the suspension of his license to practice law are conditioned, then, and in such event, this Three-Judge Court shall, as an alternative disposition to such license suspension, revoke the Respondent's license to practice law in the Commonwealth of Virginia; and it is further
ORDERED that upon request of Bar Counsel, made during the remaining period of Respondent's license suspension through Respondent's undersigned counsel, Respondent shall execute such releases and authorizations as may be required from time to time for the Virginia State Bar to determine and/or verify the status of Respondent's compliance with the terms and conditions imposed by this Three-Judge Court; and it is further
ORDERED that pursuant to Part Six, ßIV, 13(K)(10) of the Rules of the Supreme Court of Virginia, the Clerk of the Disciplinary System shall assess costs against the Respondent.
It is further ORDERED that four (4) copies of this Order be certified by the Clerk of the Circuit Court of Fauquier County, Virginia, and be thereafter mailed by said Clerk to the Clerk of the Disciplinary System of the Virginia State Bar at 707 East Main Street, Suite 1500, Richmond, Virginia 23219-2800, for further service upon the Respondent and Bar Counsel consistent with the rules and procedures governing the Virginia State Bar Disciplinary System.
ENTERED this day of , 2001.
FOR THE THREE-JUDGE COURT:
PAUL F. SHERIDAN
Chief Judge of Three-Judge Court
WE ASK FOR THIS:
SETH M. GUGGENHEIM
VSB No. 16636
Assistant Bar Counsel
Virginia State Bar
100 N. Pitt Street, Suite 310
Alexandria, Virginia 22314
Phone: (703) 518-8045
Fax: (703) 518-8052
STEPHEN R. PICKARD, ESQUIRE
VSB No. 16374
Counsel for Respondent
115 Oronoco Street
P. O. Box 1685
Alexandria, Virginia 22313-1685