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When Jesus Morales showed up to court in Redwood City, California, last week, he was probably considering the possibility of a long time in jail. He probably didn't expect that his defense attorney would end up next to him, however. And that's exactly what happened.
Defense attorney Deron Kartoon was arrested and tossed in San Mateo County Jail when he appeared at court to represent Morales. Why? First, Kartoon had let his law license expire, a fairly big deal. But he was also wanted for methamphetamine and identity theft charges.
What Lawyer Hasn't Faced a Few Meth Charges?
Kartoon's charges were actually more serious than his client's, who was facing charges for stealing 24 people's financial information and using it to buy iPads. When state prosecutors sought to contact Kartoon, they looked up his information on the state bar's website. That revealed that Kartoon's license had expired, making him ineligible to practice. A bit more poking and the meth and identity theft charges popped up. All was set for a dramatic courtroom arrest.
For his part, Kartoon claims innocence and expects to be exonerated. He was at court to remove himself from representation, he claims. As for whether he's competent, he assured the San Francisco Chronicle with the following self-praise:
No, absolutely I think I'm competent, and when I get my head screwed on, I don't think there's another attorney that can outwork me. There's going to be smarter lawyers out there, but no one's going to work harder than I will.
Put that on your business cards.
Practicing law without a license, identity theft, possession of meth -- these are all pretty significant charges. (And there's more!) If convicted, Kartoon can expect to face discipline from the state bar. Along with selling your contact information to rental car agencies and insurance companies, the California Bar Association is also in the business of maintaining minimum standards of professional ethics. Those who violate them, by, for example, engaging in "crimes of moral turpitude" can be disbarred.
But, disbarment is no sure thing for Kartoon. First, he might be innocent. Second, if his actions were caused by drug use, treatment and recovery might help mitigate any punishment. And California can be forgiving. Even disbarred lawyers can apply for reinstatement after five years, if they show that they have been rehabilitated.
After that, they can go on to be disbarred again.
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.