Going Where Few Have Gone Before

Following the bold and the disbarred

Going Where Few Have Gone Before

♫ I can have it all
Now I'm dancing for my life...

– Music and Lyrics by Giorgio Moroder, Lyrics by Keith Forsey and Irene Cara; performed by Cara.

When it comes to going beyond private practice, a few law graduates have taken things perhaps just a bit further than most.

Take Mark Ciavarella. He was a President Judge of the Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas in Pennsylvania. He pled guilty in 2009 to “federal charges of honest services fraud, wire fraud and tax evasion in connection with receiving $2.6 million in kickbacks from Robert Powell (himself an attorney) and Robert Mericle, the co-owner and builder respectively, of two private, for-profit juvenile facilities of PA Child Care” (per Wikipedia). How did he earn these kickbacks, you ask? By sentencing children to stays in juvenile detention for crimes such as “mocking a principal on Myspace, trespassing in a vacant building, and shoplifting DVDs from Walmart.”

Then there is Minnesota attorney Thomas P. Lowe. Now Thomas isn’t the first lawyer to have sex with his client (and almost certainly not the last). He distinguished himself by taking things one step further and billing his client for his time having sex, characterizing these activities as “drafting memos” and “meetings” (per Business Insider). This earned him a professional misconduct citation, among other things.

Stealing from clients is bad; stealing from orphaned children is in a class all its own. Yet that is what attorney John Milton Merritt did. He plead guilty to 12 counts of using forged court orders to defraud clients. Among those clients were four orphaned girls whose parents were killed in a 2002 car crash and a boy injured in a 2005 car accident. In total, Mr. Merritt stole just under $450,000 from the children and $1.7 million in total (per Huffpost).

However, not many lawyers make such an impact as Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov, better known by his alias, Lenin. He played a leading role in the October Revolution, in which the Bolsheviks overthrew Russia and the Tsars (per Wikipedia).

He served as head of government of Soviet Russia from 1917 to 1924 and of the Soviet Union from 1922 to 1924. Under his administration, Russia and then the wider Soviet Union became a one-party communist state governed by the Russian Communist Party.

Genocide scholar Adam Jones claims that “there is very little in the record of human experience to match the violence unleashed between 1917, when the Bolsheviks took power, and 1953, when Joseph Stalin died and the Soviet Union moved to adopt a more restrained and largely non-murderous domestic policy” (per Wikipedia). Robert Conquest, in his book, estimates the communist leaders of the Soviet Union were responsible for no fewer than 15 million deaths.

On a different scale, take lawyer Brett Hartley of Florida who was disbarred by The Florida Supreme Court. What did he do? He used his lawyer trust account as a business operating account for an adult entertainment business in Jacksonville, Florida called Flash Dancers. He also abandoned his practice, misappropriated client funds, failed to pay back $255,000 from his father in law after two payments, and had a substance abuse problem.

This all goes to show that if you throw the ethics book out the window, you can seemingly have it all, provided you don’t mind — dancing for your life.