Court rejects state candidate’s bid to reinstate law license
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — A Virginia lawyer and state Senate candidate who was disbarred for having a sexual relationship with his 17-year-old receptionist lost a bid Thursday to regain his law license.
Joe Morrissey’s license to practice law was revoked in 2018 after a three-judge panel of Circuit Court judges found that he committed three violations of professional rules of conduct.
The Supreme Court of Virginia upheld that ruling Thursday.
Morrissey was convicted of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. He later married his receptionist and they now have three children.
Morrissey’s lawyers argued that the judges made errors and gave him an overly harsh punishment. The Supreme Court disagreed.
In a strongly worded decision, the court said that rather than take responsibility for his actions, Morrissey has attempted to shift the blame to others.
“This voluminous history establishes Morrissey’s chronic unwillingness to practice law in conformity with the rules that govern our profession,” the court wrote in its unanimous decision. “The sanction of revocation is fully justified.”
Morrissey declined to comment on the ruling. His attorneys, Frank Friedman and state Sen. William Stanley, called the court’s ruling “extremely disappointing” and said they will seek the reinstatement of Morrissey’s law license “at the earliest opportunity” so he can “fight for his clients as he always has before.”
During his disciplinary hearing, Morrissey testified that he was not aware of his receptionist’s real age and said that she indicated she was a 22-year-old college student on her job application. But other evidence introduced during the hearing indicated that Morrissey knew she was underage, the court wrote in its ruling.
Morrissey is a former state prosecutor and state delegate. Last month, he won the Democratic primary for a Richmond-area state Senate seat. He faces a challenge in November’s election from a man who once worked for him as a legislative aide who is running as an independent.