Big Crime Pays Better with State Bar

Maybe Leon Jenkins should’ve robbed a bank.

Removed from the Michigan bench for judicial misconduct and subsequently disbarred in California, the Marina Del Rey man fought his way to the California Supreme Court because he felt the State Bar went easier on convicted felons than attorneys, like him, found guilty of less serious misconduct.

His persistence paid off on Wednesday, when the high court ordered the State Bar Court to let him file a petition seeking reinstatement as a practicing lawyer in California.

A graduate of Detroit’s Wayne State University Law School, Jenkins was removed from the Michigan District Court — equivalent to California’s old municipal courts — in 1991 after the Michigan Supreme Court found he accepted bribes and other favors to influence his rulings.

Ten years later, on Oct. 19, 2001, Jenkins was disbarred by California officials who felt his Michigan actions were serious enough to deny him the right to practice law here.

State Bar rules prevent attorneys who commit felonies from seeking reinstatement for five years from the date of their interim suspension, while for less serious misconduct, the five-year clock doesn’t start until actual disbarment.

In his Supreme Court plea, Jenkins argued that this distinction violated his due process and equal protection rights because he wasn’t credited for the 14 months of interim suspension he endured before being disbarred. Without that credited time, he argued, he would have to wait until Oct. 19 of this year to seek reinstatement. He called that situation “extremely unjust to disbarred attorneys who are not convicts.?

While the Supreme Court didn’t issue a ruling on the merits of Jenkins’ argument, it did order the State Bar Court to credit him 14 months and, thereby, make him eligible to seek reinstatement immediately.

That’s quite a coup. But filing for reinstatement is another thing from winning it.

The State Bar demands applicants pass an ethics examination, prove they’re rehabilitated and morally qualified, and have up-to-date legal skills.

All in all, it’s a high bar to scale.

Mike McKee

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2 Responses to “Big Crime Pays Better with State Bar”

  1. vale Says:

    Great job guys… Thank for you work…

  2. maitane Says:

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