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Hollister attorney who had sex with clients faces disbarment

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 [#64359], 63, was placed on involuntary inactive enrollment 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 bar prosecutors, Marshall was admitted to the Alternative Discipline Program for attorneys with substance abuse or mental health problems. 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 imposed a one-year stayed suspension and two years of probation for his misconduct. The Chief Trial Counsel’s office appealed the decision to the Supreme Court, which, in 2009, ordered the bar court to conduct further hearings.

“Despite (Marshall’s) successful completion of the ADP and LAP (Lawyer Assistance Program) and years of therapy,” 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 decision which stated that “‘the professional relationship renders it impossible for the vulnerable layperson to be considered ‘consenting.’”

Marshall represented an indigent woman who was incarcerated in the San Benito County jail and was facing life imprisonment. The woman was a drug addict, abandoned by her family, and, according to Armendariz, “was afraid to refuse (Marshall’s) sexual advances.” The client said, “I believed that (Marshall) had my life in his hands. I believed that he had the power whether I ever got a date to go home or stayed forever. He was my only hope.”

Marshall visited the woman on several occasions and had sexual relations with her at least three times.

He represented another woman and during a visit at the same jail, he hugged her and “patted her buttocks without her consent.”

Professional Rule of Conduct 3-120, which governs sexual relations between attorneys and their clients, is intended to prohibit sexual exploitation by a lawyer in the course of a professional relationship. Armendariz found that Marshall violated the rule twice and he committed acts of moral turpitude against both clients.

In mitigation, he practiced law for 20 years without any discipline prior to the misconduct.