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For using his government-paid Westlaw account after leaving his government job, Everett Walton received a reprimand from the Oregon Supreme Court.
That's not too surprising until we realized Walton wasn't practicing in Oregon at the time.
The Westlaw account was purchased for Walton when he worked as a special prosecutor for the Republic of Palau which is associated with the U.S. He left that job to work for a legal aid organization in Hawai'i. But the reprimand was a reciprocal discipline.
Walton is admitted to practice in both Oregon and Hawai'i but currently works in Hawaii, according to The National Law Journal. While what he did was potentially dishonest, it wasn't necessarily harmful or even for his own benefit.
While he was still working for the Republic of Palau Walton got a Westlaw account and signed a contract for three years of access.
When he changed jobs Walton couldn't get Westlaw to cancel his account. So he continued to use it for 14 months, presumably the remainder of the contract. In the end it was probably helpful to his clients although it's unclear why another attorney didn't just inherit the remaining time.
Still the "dishonesty" was a real sticking point for Oregon disciplinary authorities. They recommended a six-month suspension for Walton, which the state supreme court rejected, reports the ABA Journal.
In his favor, the court noted his unblemished 35 year career as an attorney, the fact that what he did wasn't a crime, and that it wasn't even something that benefitted him personally. They also mentioned that Palau was paying for the account anyway.
Walton also received a public reprimand in Hawai'i for his behavior so he can consider himself twice scolded.
It's hard to see how leaving the account unused during that time would have benefitted anyone while Walton's choice at least was a help to people in need of legal services. But he's accepted the decision and moved on.
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