A unanimous state Supreme Court on Tuesday took away Oklahoma City attorney Mike Gassaway's law license for bringing "disrepute and extreme embarrassment to his profession.” The Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled Gassaway had violated the rules of professional conduct at least six times since he was reinstated as an attorney in 2002. Its 30-page order described Gassaway as dishonest, deceitful, immoral and unprofessional. "The gravity of the offenses committed by (Gassaway), and clearly proven by the (Oklahoma Bar Association), mandates our highest discipline,” Chief Justice James Winchester wrote. The court ruled Gassaway's name should be stricken from the state's roll of lawyers. The 57-year-old Edmond resident also must pay $10,000 in court costs. Gassaway could not be reached for comment Tuesday by The Oklahoman. His attorney said he was saddened but not surprised by the ruling. "It's been a long haul for Mike,” said attorney Billy Bock, who noted disciplinary proceedings against Gassaway began in March 2004. Bock said the bar association, which oversees the attorneys in the state, stacked more than a dozen allegations of professional misconduct against Gassaway, who denied each one. The Supreme Court ruled there was sufficient evidence to support six of those allegations, ranging from misleading an Oklahoma County judge to trading legal fees for sexual favors. Gassaway was acquitted by an Oklahoma County jury in April 2007 of a misdemeanor solicitation charge after his attorney argued his actions were immoral but not illegal. Each of the violations would be sufficient to command disbarment, Winchester wrote; "all six taken together merely serve to reinforce the decision.” Gassaway was defiant in December after a disciplinary panel that met over seven days in September and October recommended his disbarment. He also seemed resigned to losing his license. Gassaway said he had been working to line up other attorneys for his clients. "I'm not leaving anybody in a lurch,” Gassaway said in a Dec. 28 news conference at his downtown office. Bock said Gassaway — who worked as a law clerk and ran a golf shop after he surrendered his license in 1995 — has some options, although he declined to detail them. "You can rest assured Mike'll land on his feet,” he said.
NewsOK.com has disabled the comments for this article.
AT A GLANCE
Past problemsSome of attorney Mike Gassaway's past problems are outlined in the Oklahoma Supreme Court's ruling: •1987: Gassaway was disciplined twice for misconduct. He received a public censure after being convicted of failing to file income tax returns and was sentenced to six months in federal prison. He later received a one-year suspension from practicing law for neglect, conflict of interest and providing a false statement in a verified affidavit. •December 1988: Gassaway's suspension was extended an additional two months for neglecting clients' matters. •July 1995: Gassaway surrendered his law license after being convicted in federal court in Oklahoma City of making a false statement on a tax return. He was sentenced to one year in prison, which included extra time after a judge ruled that he perjured himself during his trial testimony. His license was reinstated in 2002.
Court's findings on GassawayThe Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled attorney Mike Gassaway repeatedly disregarded the rules of his profession: •Lied to an Oklahoma County judge about an order she signed in July 2002 forgiving $40,000 in restitution owed by a client •Forged another attorney's signature on a 2004 letter •Botched a 2002 divorce case •Agreed to trade legal fees for sexual favors from a client's girlfriend in March 2006 •Forged a prosecutor's signature in February 2006
More coverage•Online: Original discipline proceeding On NewsOK •Inside: Past woes Page 10A