In days past Boston was known for mayors who served from inside jail. Here is a story in a similar vein. The leader in this judicial campaign may be kept off the bench for a legal malpractice/disciplinary problem.
“A deal struck with a southwest Alabama circuit judge candidate in a disciplinary action concerning his handling of a will does not penalize the candidate harshly enough, the state’s highest court ruled Friday.
The Alabama Supreme Court’s decision could cost Stuart DuBose his would-be judgeship — all because he wrote a will for a man he never met.
The rejected deal would have allowed DuBose — the unopposed Democratic candidate for the circuit court that covers Choctaw, Clarke and Washington counties — to serve a suspension between the Nov. 7 general election and the date he would be sworn in.
Now, he’ll again have to face the Alabama State Bar disciplinary commission. If he’s found guilty of the complaints and given a suspension of his law license that overlaps either of those two dates, he will not be qualified to serve as judge, according to the Alabama Constitution.
The dispute stems from a 2003 estate case in which DuBose was the attorney.
In that case, Cheryl Weaver visited DuBose and asked him to draw up a will for Joseph J. Sullivan. Weaver, Sullivan’s caretaker, informed DuBose the man was dying and wanted to leave his entire estate to her.
He drafted the will, but never met with the dying man. He also drafted a certificate of competency for Weaver to have signed by the man’s doctor.
According to court documents, Weaver soured on DuBose shortly after Sullivan died. After DuBose clarified in a letter that his cut of the estate was a fee of 40 percent, or about $1.2 million, she fired him as her attorney and tried to drop him as the estate’s lawyer.
Weaver then sued him, accusing him of acting inappropriately, including legal malpractice, misrepresentation, negligently administering the estate and capitalizing on the death by designating himself both the attorney for the estate and Weaver without ever informing her of a potential conflict of interest. That case was tossed out.
When the dispute over the estate was settled, a judge ruled the $1.2 million in fees was “reasonable and necessary” and allowed DuBose to remain the executor of the will.” Full Artile