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Legal Ethics

Inept Law Grad Pretended to Practice Even After Being Suspended, His Lawyer Says

Posted Dec 2, 2010 4:33 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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Elliot Vogt was smart enough to graduate from law school and pass two bar exams. But he didn't have what it takes to practice law.

So, although he could foresee a disastrous end, he pretended to to go to work every day. And he told clients he could help them, even after his license had been suspended in Alabama and Georgia, to buy a little more time with his wife and toddler daughter, defense attorney Neal Callahan tells the Daily Report. The article is reprinted in New York Lawyer (reg. req.).

Vogt also allegedly faked court documents and forged signatures, including those of several judges, in an effort to persuade clients that their cases were making progress. In fact, some individuals who thought they were divorced hadn't even filed, the article says.

It all came crashing down when another local lawyer in the Columbus, Ga., area discovered that Vogt, 33, had allegedly been impersonating him. Told by a "client" he'd never met or agreed to represent that Vogt was claiming to be his law partner and apparently assigning him cases, Brian Ramey asked the woman for Vogt's phone number and placed a call, the legal publication recounts:

Stunned to be greeted by a voice mail message purportedly from "Brian Ramey," he left a message: "This is the real Brian Ramey, Mr. Vogt, and I am calling the police," explains a complaint the real Ramey filed Nov. 1 with Georgia bar authorities.

Vogt was soon jailed for contempt, without bond, by a Chattahoochee Judicial Circuit Judge Bobby Peters, who even put out a press release in the hope of alerting other alleged victims. Thus far, the tally stands at about 25, the Daily Report says.

"This is one of the saddest cases I've been involved in," says Callahan. "These people went to him to seek legal help and didn't get it. But his life is ruined, too. He's still paying off his student loans, he has no livelihood. This is not a case of greed; it's just a guy trying to avoid dealing with it. He knew this day was coming."

Vogt reportedly has admitted at least some of his alleged misconduct, is sorry and knows he will have to make restitution, according to the Daily Report, Peters and Vogt's lawyer.

Earlier coverage:

ABAJournal.com: "Suspended Lawyer Who Allegedly Kept Practicing and Forged Court Docs Is Jailed for Contempt"

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