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Thursday, March 22, 2012

NEWS FROM THE "BAR" - 13 YEARS PRACTICING ON SUSPENDED LICENSE

David Walocha graduated from law school and passed the Nebraska bar in 1994.  However, two years later, he let his bar membership lapse by not paying his dues.  Two years later, he was back to practicing law.  There was only one problem though - he still hadn't paid his dues and was still suspended. 

Walocha, while working as a bartender would pick up cases from his customers as well as refer customers to other lawyers.  From 1998 to 2011, Walocha represented at least 60 people, tried felony cases and appeared before as many as 15 judges, none of whom thought anything was amiss or suspicious.  Even Walocha's wife, a real estate attorney, was apparently unaware of his practicing on a lapsed bar membership.

What finally got Walocha caught was having a client sentenced to jail.  When prison officials asked Walocha's now sentenced client, P. Vanderpool, to give his lawyer's name and phone number in order to prevent these calls from being monitored (due to lawyer-client privilege), they told Vanderpool that Walocha's name did not appear on the list of active attorneys.  Vanderpool then contacted his mother about the situation and she contacted the Nebraska State Bar Association to see what the problem was. 

On March 9, 2012, the Nebraska State Supreme Court disbarred Walocha, calling his behavior over the past 13 years "egregious and unacceptable.".  The court denied his plea for a reduced sanction, stating "[e]very pleading, every court appearance, every meeting with a client constituted a separate act of dishonesty." 

On a side note, Vanderpool is now appealing his conviction, claiming ineffective assistance of counsel.

To read the Nebraska Supreme Court statement, click here.

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