The wheels of justice do grind slowly--and especially, it seems, when it comes to disciplining lawyers.
His first disciplinary hearing was three years ago.
The state Supreme Court has finally suspended Alfoster Garrett Jr. from practicing law--five years after he stepped down as head of the Seattle NAACP amid a scandal.
The suspension, reported today by the Seattle Times, was sought by the Washington State Bar Association after a hearing officer determined that Garrett had co-mingled client and personal funds, inappropriately revealed the name of a juvenile client, and misled other clients into believing the NAACP was taking their cases when in fact Garrett himself, as a private attorney, was intending to represent them.
Sound familiar? It should.This is the same case that the bar held a hearing about three years ago. It was a spectacularly weird hearing with multiple conspiracy theories on display, including Garrett's contention that a disaffected NAACP member had tried to have him murdered. The hearing officer had little patience with the proceedings and ultimately recommended that Garrett be disbarred. But the bar's own disciplinary board rejected that recommendation, instead criticizing the hearing officer himself for a "persistent pattern of sarcasm and hostility."
The bar didn't determine a new recommendation until this year. Why so long? According to bar spokesperson Judy Berrett, "it does sometimes take some time to schedule" a new hearing, and even longer to draw up findings after that.
While Garrett waited for a decision, he stayed active. Earlier this year, he represented DeShawn "Cash Money" Clark, a West Seattle pimp who became the first person to be convicted under a Washington state human trafficking law. Garrett quickly filed an appeal, saying he wanted to fast-track the higher court's review.
But someone else will have to handle that case now. Garrett has been suspended from practicing law for 2 1/2 years.