Denver, Colorado (PRWEB) September 04, 2014
Advocacy group A Just Cause filed a complaint with the California Bar Association against Attorney Mark Geragos citing that the attorney had violated Rule 3-500, “Communication”, and Rule 3-110, “Failing to Act Competently” (http://www.calbar.ca.gov/) after receiving $100,000 in fees.
According to the complaint filed with the State Bar of California Office of the Chief Trial Counsel (California Bar Association Complaint Ref #14-25162), A Just Cause cites actions by Geragos during his representation of the organization in a civil lawsuit against the federal government as well as criminal representation of the IRP6. (Case numbers 1:13-cv-02260-RBJ and D. Ct. No. 1:09-CR-00266-CMA)
According to the complaint filed by the all-volunteer advocacy group, Geragos received a total of $100,000 in retainers to represent the group and the IRP6. (Filed with The State Bar of California, http://www.calbar.ca.gov/Attorneys/LawyerRegulation.aspx)
“This was a painful experience because A Just Cause is an organization made up of volunteers who have come together to fight wrongful convictions," says Sam Thurman, A Just Cause. “We first approached Mr. Geragos over a year ago regarding the IRP6 case and the situation where the defendants were forced to take the witness stand. After reviewing the facts of the case, Geragos agreed to take the case and his firm came on board around the September timeframe 2013 after we remitted a $50,000 retainer," adds Thurman. “No one has $50,000 just lying around, so family and friends of the IRP6 had to literally scrape the money together to make this happen," adds Thurman.
The IRP6 case concerns an African-American company (IRP Solutions Corporation) in Colorado that developed the Case Investigative Life Cycle (CILC) criminal investigations software for federal, state, and local law enforcement. The IRP6 (Kendrick Barnes, Gary L Walker, Demetrius K. Harper, Clinton A Stewart, David A Zirpolo and David A Banks) were convicted in 2011 after being accused of mail and wire fraud. The defense argues that key elements of the court transcript, which were critical to the appeal, are missing and/or never delivered to the defendants by Judge Christine Arguello or Court Reporter Darlene Martinez (D. Ct. No. 1:09-CR-00266-CMA).
“Of course everyone was ecstatic that Mark Geragos had agreed to join the legal team, and everyone knew that it was going to be a tremendous sacrifice to pull the retainer together but we made it happen," says Thurman. “After we engaged Mr. Geragos for the civil case, we asked if he could recommend someone for the IRP6 criminal side to file an emergency motion for Bond Pending Appeal," claims Thurman. “Mr. Geragos stated that he wanted to take the criminal case as well, and after discussion with his partners he stated that it would cost the families an additional $50,000," says Thurman. “The first $50,000 was a stretch, but family and friends came together once again to make it happen. Folks were pulling cash off of credit cards, getting loans, making whatever sacrifice they could to help the families of the IRP6," says Thurman. “To see a community support the IRP6 like this was awesome, but what would come afterwards was heartbreaking," adds Thurman.
“In my opinion, a strange thing started to happen as the cases progressed. It seemed that Mr. Geragos became less engaged and was not communicating with us as much," adds Thurman. “At first Geragos seemed very sincere even to the point of speaking about the case on Sirius XM Radio," says Thurman.
“I was fascinated by the issue," said Mark Geragos (“Inside The Issues, Sirius XM, Channel 110, 12/7/13). “At first I was somewhat aghast and didn’t really believe (the story) the way it had been portrayed to me, but we dug into and drilled down in it…and the transcript has mysteriously disappeared," added Geragos. “Thirty-one years and this is the first time that I have ever encountered a federal court transcript disappearing," Geragos expounded. “These are not crack dealers out on the corner," proclaimed Geragos. “These are guys who were out there trying to develop a program to help law enforcement, and by all accounts some world renown experts said it was a very good program and a helpful program, and something that just was not out on the market, and we are going to criminalize these guys and criminalize their corporation and their actions?," pondered Geragos. “And we’re going to warehouse them for years and years and years in federal prison and we don’t even have a transcript to back up what I consider to be a vital constitutional issue?” asserted Geragos. “So it’s almost like law enforcement cannibalized themselves in this case and you have to wonder what was the motivation. Who was driving this?," questioned Geragos.
“The position that Mr. Geragos took at the beginning and what transpired later are quite different," says Thurman. "Court records show that the civil case regarding the missing transcript did not end well," says Thurman. Our case was dismissed (1:13-cv-02260-RBJ) and we attribute that to the lack of communication and timeliness to act on the part of Mr. Geragos," adds Thurman. “In our opinion, not only did Mr. Geragos’ communication start to fall off, but court records will show that it took him two and half months to respond to a request made by Judge Jackson to confirm whether or not a document was on file at the court clerk’s office (1:13-cv-02260-RBJ). We feel that the act of not responding to the Judge in a timely manner was disrespectful to Judge Jackson and hurtful to our case," exclaims Thurman. “That’s partly why we filed under Rule 3-500 (Communication) and 3-110 (Failing to Act Competently). “In the situation of the request by Judge Jackson, Attorney Gwendolyn Solomon obtained the information within a day or so, and turned it over to Mr. Geragos, but nothing happened for over two months," adds Thurman.
Court records show that Attorney Gwendolyn Solomon has been the lead Appellant Attorney for the IRP6. Records show that Solomon has worked pro bono for over two years. “We are fortunate to have Ms. Solomon working on behalf of the IRP6," says Thurman. She has tirelessly worked this case, doing a tremendous amount of leg work, and research, but she has sought no monies for her services. She truly believes in the IRP6’s innocence and is doing whatever she can to help these men and their families. Her efforts are greatly appreciated," adds Thurman.
According to the State Bar of California Rules of Professional Conduct, Rule 3-500 Communication, “A member shall keep a client reasonably informed about significant developments relating to the employment or representation, including promptly complying with reasonable requests for information and copies of significant documents when necessary to keep the client so informed.” (http://rules.calbar.ca.gov/Rules/RulesofProfessionalConduct/CurrentRules/Rule3500.aspx)
According to the State Bar of California Rules of Professional Conduct, Rule 3-110 Failing to Act Competently, sub (A), “A member shall not intentionally, recklessly, or repeatedly fail to perform legal services with competence.” (http://rules.calbar.ca.gov/Rules/RulesofProfessionalConduct/CurrentRules/Rule3110.aspx)
“In addition to what happened during the civil case, A Just Cause feels that we have good grounds for a complaint against Mr. Geragos regarding his actions in his representation of the IRP6 for filing a Bond Pending Appeal," says Thurman. “The charges we have filed with the California state bar (California Bar Association Complaint Ref #14-25162) refer to Mr. Geragos' of lack of communication and timeliness in handling critical case related matters," says Thurman. “The basis for the complaint filed with the bar against Mr. Geragos addresses repeated delays or rescheduled conference calls, as well as the timely filing of a bond motion. As an example, Mr. Gerogos didn’t speak to the appellants (IRP6) until after several months had passed following being retained," claims Thurman. “Early in our engagement Mr. Geragos said that he wanted to have one point of contact, which was me, but then his contact with me got less and less. The complaint shows that on occasion several days would pass without return email or phone call from Mr. Geragos. He said that ‘he wasn't going to hold anyone’s hand.' As part of the complaint, A Just Cause will show information regarding a teleconference where Mr. Geragos swore at me and used language that I considered very offensive. As the President of A Just Cause, and as a client, I was shocked," claims Thurman. “A Just Cause retained Geragos in September 2013 and he didn’t speak with the IRP6 until May 12, 2014 via conference call," says Thurman. “According to the IRP6, they were truly excited to have the opportunity to speak with Mr. Geragos, but they conveyed that they were surprised by the reception they received," adds Thurman.
“I have never encountered more unprofessional behavior from an attorney than what I experienced in my dealings with Mark Geragos," says David Banks, IRP6. “Mark Geragos’ lack of transparency, failure to communicate and failure to file our motion in a timely fashion created a very frustrating situation for me and the other gentlemen who have been sitting in prison for over two years. This situation put me, my family and my friends through unnecessary pain and suffering," concludes Banks. “When he said that if we didn’t do it his way we were going to serve our full sentences, I found that to be the most unsupportive thing that any attorney could say to his clients," Banks added.
“To be in the middle of this situation where an attorney is paid $100,000 for services, but there were no results, leaves you feeling empty," says Thurman. “We feel that we owe it to the families of the IRP6 to file this complaint with the California Bar, because as one looks into all of the points of the complaint, it will reveal that there are valid questions regarding compliance with the Rules of Professional Conduct," concludes Thurman. “The mother of one of the IRP6 saw Mark Geragos on television and encouraged the team to reach out to him. Now that same mother finds it hard to believe that the man she saw of television is the same man who A Just Cause is now filing a complaint against," concludes Thurman.
In response to the filing of the complaint against Geragos, Gary Walker (IRP6) stated, “We knew about Geragos being fired as Michael Jackson’s attorney years ago when Michael Jackson said in news reports that ‘It is imperative that I have the full attention of those who are representing me. My life is at stake.’" (Michael Jackson, New York Times, April 27, 2004 - http://www.nytimes.com/2004/04/27/us/jackson-says-full-attention-of-legal-team-was-lacking.html) “We know we don’t rate up there with his celebrity clients, but we never dreamed that we would have this type of experience," added Walker.
“We released Mr. Geragos as the attorney after his actions left us no alternative. Ms. Solomon has solely filled the role to represent the IRP6," added Thurman.
Court records for the IRP6 case are included in D.C. No. 1:09-CR-00266-CMA, Appellate Case 11-1492.
For more information about the story of the IRP6 or for copies of the legal filings go to http://www.freetheirp6.org.
Related press releases: http://www.a-justcause.com/#!press-release/c21pq
Petition for release of IRP6 sidebar conference of transcript of Fifth Amendment violation: http://www.change.org/petitions/attorney-general-eric-holder-investigate-federal-case-of-irp6-200-pages-of-court-transcript-missing