After 20 Years of Unauthorized Practice, Prosecutor Gets Bar Probation
For 20 years, Gemma Graham didn’t comply with Minnesota’s continuing legal education requirements, yet continued to work as a county prosecutor even though her law license was on restricted status.
Now, under a plea agreement, she has admitted that her conduct violated professional conduct rules, and the state supreme court says in a written opinion (PDF) that it has accepted a joint recommendation by Graham and the director of the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility that she be given two years of unsupervised probation and a public reprimand.
Graham went on an unpaid leave of absence from her job as an assistant Hennepin County attorney in May, “but eventually returned to work, although it wasn’t clear when,” reports the Minneapolis Star Tribune (reg. req.).
Hennepin County Public Defender Lenny Castro said his office unsuccessfully challenged a murder conviction, apparently based on the status of Graham’s law license, once the issue became public. “She was sending people to prison without a law license, without authorization from the Supreme Court to practice law. These people take an oath,” he said of the county’s 170 or so attorneys.
Graham and and Deputy County Attorney Pat Diamond declined to discuss her discipline case, but Diamond said in May that Graham’s restricted law license didn’t jeopardize convictions and was, at most, a “technical defect.”