Jeff Jeffrey of Legal Times has the scoop: Garrett L. Lee, a former legal adviser in the mayor’s office, was disbarred last week by the D.C. Court of Appeals. Lee held several jobs in District government dating back to 2006, starting as a lawyer on then-Ward 4 Councilmember Adrian M. Fenty‘s committee staff and rising to interim deputy general counsel, a job he filled after general counsel Peter Nickles was named acting attorney general and deputy general counsel Chip Richardson rose to take his old spot.
The whole story is fascinating, and you should all read it, but you all can’t read it without a Legal Times subscription. LL, however, will digest the article (strictly adhering to fair-use doctrine, of course).
The disbarment itself is rooted in a divorce case that Lee handled starting in 1999, Jeffrey reports. Lee represented Xavier Jordan against wife Marina Zoob. Writes Jeffrey,
But Lee was making some major mistakes—all the while telling Jordan that all was well, according to court documents. He didn’t respond to a motion for contempt for failure to pay child support. He didn’t respond to a notice that Zoob was seeking to garnish Jordan’s investment account. The pattern continued in two other real estate disputes Lee was handling for Jordan—including missed filings and failing to respond to discovery requests.
The kicker is that when a appeals judge finally ruled against Jordan, a copy of the opinion that Lee provided to his client had a key line removed: that Lee had never filed a brief stating Jordan’s case.
Jordan filed a malpractice claim against Lee in September 2005; Lee stalled responding to the claim, and Jordan filed for summary judgment in 2007, Lee did not reply and judgment was entered against him for $1 million. Lee appealed, but it was dismissed in December.
Here’s the thing: Lee’s career in government service started after the malpractice suit was filed against him. According to Jeffrey’s article, Fenty knew and didn’t care:
“I asked Lee how he got the job as special counsel,” [Jordan lawyer Janet DeCosta] told Legal Times last week. “He said he got it through Mr. Fenty. He knew him personally. I asked Lee if he had told his employer, Mr. Fenty, about the lawsuit, and he said he had,” DeCosta added.
What’s Lee up to now?
Lee said last week that since his resignation, he’s been working at Color Me Mine, a paint-your-own-pottery studio in Adams Morgan that Lee said is owned by his sister.