Hollister Attorney Who Had Sex with Clients Faces Disbarment

Media Contact: Diane Curtis       415-538-2028    diane.curtis@calbar.ca.gov

San Francisco, June 17, 2010 —  Following arguments from the State Bar prosecutor’s office that a stayed suspension was too lenient for Hollister lawyer Patrick Earl Marshall – who had sexual relations with two incarcerated clients when he was a contract public defender – a State Bar Court judge has recommended disbarment.

Marshall, 63, will be placed on involuntary inactive enrollment effective June 18 pending approval by the California Supreme Court of the disbarment recommendation.

In  May 2004, Marshall was charged by the Chief Trial Counsel’s Office  with engaging in sexual misconduct with two female clients who were incarcerated in San Benito County at the time.  Over the objections of the Chief Trial Counsel’s Office, Marshall was admitted to the State Bar’s Alternative Discipline Program, which allows for substance abuse or mental health treatment before a case is decided. Marshall entered into an agreement to assist in his recovery process from depression disorder, sexual disorder, narcissistic personality disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder.

When he completed the program in 2007, the State Bar Court Hearing Department imposed a one-year stayed suspension and two years’ probation for his misconduct. The Chief Trial Counsel’s office appealed the decision to the Supreme Court, which, in 2009, ordered the State Bar Court to conduct further hearings.

“Despite respondent’s successful completion of the ADP and LAP [Lawyer Assistance Program] and years of therapy,” State Bar Court Judge Lucy Armendariz wrote in her disbarment decision, Marshall, who argued that the sex was consensual, “has not fully grasped the egregiousness of his offenses and the extreme harm he had caused the administration of justice and integrity of the legal profession.” Armendariz noted that Marshall went so far as to argue that a mitigating factor should be that his misconduct accounted for no more than “an hour’s total duration.”

“Violation of one’s professional and ethical duties is not measured by the length of time,” Armendariz wrote. “Having improper sexual relations with a client breaches the basic notions of trust and integrity and endangers public confidence in the legal profession, irrespective of its duration . . . His persistent claims that the sexual relations were consensual and that [one woman] never told him to stop are indeed troubling and adversely reflect on his fitness to practice law.” The judge referred to an Iowa Supreme Court decisions which stated that “‘the professional relationship renders it impossible for the vulnerable layperson to be considered ‘consenting.’”

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Founded in 1927 by the legislature, The State Bar of California is an administrative arm of the California Supreme Court, serving the public and seeking to improve the justice system for more than 80 years. All lawyers practicing law in California must be members of the State Bar. By June 2010, membership reached 227,000.