Friday, June 18, 2010
Public Defender Who Had Sex With Clients Faces Disbarment
By a MetNews Staff Writer
A State Bar Court judge yesterday recommended disbarment for a Hollister lawyer who had sexual relations with two incarcerated clients when he was a contract public defender.
Judge Lucy Armendariz, following prosecutors’ arguments that a stayed suspension recommended by a previous hearing judge was too lenient, ordered Patrick Earl Marshall, 63, placed on involuntary inactive enrollment effective today pending approval of the disbarment recommendation by the California Supreme Court.
The State Bar Court’s Chief Trial Counsel’s Office in May 2004 charged Marshall with engaging in sexual misconduct with two female clients who were incarcerated in San Benito County at the time.
Over the office’s objections, Marshall was admitted to the State Bar’s Alternative Discipline Program, which allows for substance abuse or mental health treatment before a case is decided. He later entered into an agreement to assist in his recovery process from depression disorder, sexual disorder, narcissistic personality disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder.
A State Bar Court Hearing Department judge recommended a one-year stayed suspension and two years’ probation on Marshall when he completed the program in 2007, but the Chief Trial Counsel’s office appealed the decision to the Supreme Court, which last year ordered the State Bar Court to conduct further hearings.
“Despite respondent’s successful completion of the ADP and [the Lawyer Assistance Program] and years of therapy,” Armendariz wrote, Marshall, who argued that the sex was consensual, “has not fully grasped the egregiousness of his offenses and the extreme harm he had caused the administration of justice and integrity of the legal profession.” She noted that Marshall went so far as to argue that a mitigating factor should be that his misconduct accounted for no more than “an hour’s total duration.”
“Violation of one’s professional and ethical duties is not measured by the length of time,” Armendariz said. “Having improper sexual relations with a client breaches the basic notions of trust and integrity and endangers public confidence in the legal profession, irrespective of its duration…His persistent claims that the sexual relations were consensual and that [one woman] never told him to stop are indeed troubling and adversely reflect on his fitness to practice law.”
The judge referred to an Iowa Supreme Court decision which stated that “‘the professional relationship renders it impossible for the vulnerable layperson to be considered ‘consenting.’ ”
“Because of the high ethical standard demanded of a public defender, [Marshall’s] misconduct, and betrayal of trust and abuse of power in not one but two client matters warrant disbarment,” Armendariz wrote.
Marshall, who was admitted to the State Bar in 1975, and has no prior record of discipline according to the State Bar’s website, could not be reached for comment.
Copyright 2010, Metropolitan News Company