Ethics

suspended words

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The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has disbarred a lawyer who was suspended 17 years ago but allegedly continued to practice law.

Its disciplinary board found Oct. 31 that Northumberland County lawyer Jason Michael Purcell deceived the public and had a “contemptuous attitude towards his professional responsibilities,” the Patriot-News reports.

Purcell was suspended Dec. 1, 2002, for failing to pay his annual attorney registration fee, but he continued to claim that he was a practicing attorney through social media, the board said. On LinkedIn, he touted “having 15-plus years of diverse legal experience” and said he was licensed to practice in California, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania and the District of Columbia.

Purcell falsely claimed that he held several jobs in the legal field, including working as in-house counsel and an associate broker for a private boutique real estate firm in New York from 2012 to 2017, the board said.

The board also said Purcell appeared as counsel in a drunken driving case and custody matter in 2005, worked as counsel of record in a drug case and helped prepare a petition to recanvass voting machines in 2006, and represented an individual in a protection from abuse matter in 2018.

In the 2018 matter, the board said Purcell told the judge that he had been reinstated but failed to produce the letter proving his reinstatement.

“During his lengthy period of administrative suspension, respondent engaged in serious professional misconduct by continuing to hold himself out to the public as an active member of the Pennsylvania Bar and representing clients in at least five legal matters in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania,” the board wrote in its opinion.

The board noted that Purcell has failed to respond to these charges and did not appear at his disciplinary hearing.

The board also contended that Purcell has a criminal history, in which he has been convicted twice of driving under the influence of alcohol. In 2006, he was charged with his third DUI but failed to appear in court.

The Patriot-News reports that Purcell pleaded guilty in May and was sentenced to 10 days to 18 months in prison.