Successful Jailhouse Lawyer Investigated for Unauthorized Practice
A “jailhouse lawyer” who persuaded the U.S. Supreme Court to hear a sentencing challenge by a fellow prisoner is being investigated for practicing law without a license.
Michael Ray, a former paralegal who is in prison in connection with a fraudulent real-estate financing scheme, was in the news earlier this month when the high court agreed to review a cocaine sentence based on Ray’s arguments. At issue is whether a previous offense by the defendant, Keith Lavon Burgess, qualified as a prior felony mandating a 20-year mandatory minimum sentence.
Ray’s lawyer, Rauch Wise, confirmed that the South Carolina Attorney General’s office is investigating his client for unauthorized practice, the Associated Press reports.
“I sit there and do all this work, and I never get the Supreme Court to grant” my cert petitions, Wise told AP. “He may be a better lawyer than I am.”
Federal prison regulations say an inmate may assist another with legal research and the preparation of legal documents.