Just in time for a round of political debates and candidate forums -- including one tonight -- an anonymous letter to the Arizona State Bar Association has prompted an investigation of Lawrence Robinson, a candidate in the race for a District 8 seat on the Phoenix City Council.
(Chicanos Por La Causa is hosting a forum from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Salvation Army Kroc Corps Community Center, 1375 East Broadway Road, with Joseph Garcia, director of Morrison Institute Latino Public Policy Center, as moderator.)
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In this complaint, the unnamed writer says that he considers himself an "educated voter" who conducts thorough "research [on] each candidate's background." However, in his 35-page grievance statement, complete with 11 exhibits, this "educated" individual stops his research short of actually resolving the allegations he creates.
It doesn't seem that finding answers was this educated voter's goal. It makes for much better political fodder to tell would-be voters that your opponent is getting "investigated" by state officials.
This complaint largely accuses Robinson of "false legal representation" for listing on his résumé and other places that he served as a "staff attorney" for various organizations, including the Democratic Caucus at the Arizona House of Representatives.
Robinson passed the bar in New York but is not licensed to practice law in Arizona. Though he hasn't practiced law -- or claimed to have been a practicing attorney in this state -- this complaint says Robinson has engaged in public deception and tried to "induce others to believe that [he was] authorized to engage in the practice of law in this state."
And the complaint also alleges that he was practicing law for the Brooklyn Family Defense Project in New York before he successfully passed the bar exam in that state.
To "thoroughly" research the candidates, educated voter should have picked up the phone and called the Democratic Caucus to ask about Robinson's role as a staff attorney.
The complainer would have learned, as we did, that "staff attorney" was Robinson's job title. House Minority Leader Chad Campbell tells New Times that Robinson wasn't practicing law or giving anyone legal advice -- he was serving as a policy analyst.
This anonymous complainer also would have learned that the title wasn't one that Robinson slapped on himself -- it's the title given to attorneys who are on staff.
Also, if this individual who, according to his complaint, is so riddled with "concerns" about these "upsetting" and "reprehensible" allegations, why not place a quick phone call to the Brooklyn organization?
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If he had, he would have learned that the New York Supreme Court had granted approval in 2007 to Legal Services of New York City (the organization under which the Brooklyn Family Defense Project operates) for law students and recent graduates to practice law on a limited basis.
Lauren Shapiro, director of the defense project, confirmed that Robinson practiced under that student practice order. And that's why he was able to legally practice law while he awaited the (successful) results of his bar exam.
But obtaining those answers would have prevented Pastor Warren Stewart, who is running against Robinson for that District 8 seat, and his campaign manager Mario Diaz, from commenting on what they describe as "very serious" allegations.
Diaz told the Arizona Republic that Stewart will "pray" for "Robinson and the Arizona State Bar as the investigation moves forward."