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Campbell likely to lose his law license

Campbell likely to lose his law license
As convicted felon, ex-mayor also will be unable to vote

By BILL TORPY
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 03/14/06

Former Atlanta Mayor Bill Campbell’s law license will almost certainly be suspended in his home state of Florida and in Georgia following convictions on federal tax evasion charges.

The politician who considered himself a lifelong civil rights warrior will even lose his right to vote.

Campbell’s Florida law license will be automatically suspended once U.S. District Judge Richard Story sentences him, said Tony Boggs, legal director for the Florida Bar.

Campbell, who was found guilty Friday on three counts of tax evasion, will be sentenced within several months and faces possible imprisonment.

The former mayor can petition to have his Florida license reinstated. If he does, attorneys for the bar will then investigate the matter and determine if the discipline should be a longer suspension or disbarment.

Campbell has worked for Willie Gary in Stewart, Fla., for three years. If suspended, he could still work in a limited capacity with a law firm.

He’d be treated as a nonlawyer,” Boggs said. “He couldn’t have direct client contact. He couldn’t interview clients. He could be in a room with a client but only as an observer with an eligible attorney.”

Gary could not be reached for comment Monday.

Campbell’s attorney, Michael Coleman, said on V-103 radio Monday that his client realizes the tax fraud conviction has “very serious consequences.”

“The mayor is very focused on trying to address that aspect of this matter and to then get in the position where he can again be a very productive member of society,” Coleman said. He also said Campbell “has lot of life left and a lot of good things that he can do.”

Campbell worked with Gary in a $100 million lawsuit in Columbus in the 2003 shooting death of a black insurance analyst by a Muscogee County sheriff’s deputy.

In Georgia, the State Bar would investigate after getting official notification of the conviction from federal prosecutors. Defense attorney Jerry Froelich said he was drafting letters to both the Georgia and Florida state bars informing them of the conviction.

William P. Smith III, the State Bar of Georgia’s general counsel, said he could not discuss Campbell’s case specifically, but “normally, once a lawyer is convicted, he stops practicing voluntarily.”

If Campbell fights disciplinary action, Smith said, the bar would prosecute the matter in a hearing before a special master, who would then make a recommendation to the state Supreme Court.

Roy Sobelson, a Georgia State University Law School professor, has been a special master and has prosecuted license revocations for the State Bar. He said Campbell’s lawyers, if they want to mitigate the felony, could argue that Campbell was a public servant and has had no disciplinary actions against his license in over 28 years of practice.

Being found not guilty on corruption charges helps Campbell somewhat, Sobelson said. The State Bar attorneys, however, could bring up the corruption charges, even though Campbell was acquitted. But Sobelson believes the bar will go for the “slam dunk” against Campbell simply on the tax evasion charges.

Campbell also will lose his right to vote in Florida. The state is one of the most difficult for felons trying to get their voting rights reinstated.

Staff writers S.A. Reid and Ernie Suggs contributed to this article.


Posted by loni on 03/14 at 11:19 AM in Politics

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