What happens when attorneys get in trouble?

10News anchor Robin Wilhoit sat down with UT College of Law Professor, Dwight Aarons, to learn more about consequences attorneys can face when they are convicted of a crime.

Longtime Knoxville attorney Bruce Poston was arrested Tuesday for delivering prescription pills. According to the Knox County Justice Information Management System, Poston still has 64 active cases.

See transcript of the full interview between Robin and Dwight, below.

ROBIN: An attorney is usually on "this" side of the law. When you find yourself on the wrong side of the law, what are the consequences an attorney would face?

DWIGHT: Let me just say first, they are allegations. So until they are proven, he's presumed innocent until proven guilty.

The consequences – they're going to be both personal consequences, and professional consequences. As the attorney, one of the things he should now do is talk to his clients, let them know of his situation –that he, himself, is now facing charges and whether or not they want him to continue to represent them.

Personal, most certainly he has to work those issues out with the people he knows and loves.

ROBIN: What about past cases, could this impact those? Do we expect to see anything as a result of these allegations?

DWIGHT: Yes, it's possible. Every case is going to stand on its own facts. But it seems to me some of his former clients, particularly those who have been convicted, may very well now allege – again, that's just an allegation – that the reason why they were convicted is because he was not able to give the full and best effort because of, perhaps, these underlying issues.

ROBIN: What about future cases?

DWIGHT: His law license could be in jeopardy as well, so he may not have any future clients. One of the things he has to do is work his way through these charges and get those resolved favorably. Then, he could possibly still practice law.

ROBIN: Practicing law is a high-stress, high-intensity way of living. Do we find cases in which this happens, in which attorneys go down the wrong road? How often do we see this case?

DWIGHT: Yes, it does happen. How often? I don't have the statistics, I don't know empirically.

It does happen, that attorneys do get caught up in the problems and the issues in their clients' life, and sometimes bring them – if you would – home. It does happen, unfortunately.

Other lawyers are out there to counsel and to guide, and to sometimes sort of be their brothers' keeper. If they see something a little bit amiss, they may pull them aside and say – "Hey, is everything on the up-and-up? I'm asking rhetorically, I would just like you to think things over a bit in your mind."


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