Lawyers for Joe Morrissey, a former state delegate and now a candidate for state senate, on Friday asked the Virginia Supreme Court to reverse a three-judge panel's decision revoking his law license last year.
The panel of Circuit Court judges took the action following a five-day hearing in March 2018 on professional misconduct allegations filed by the Virginia State Bar. Morrissey's lawyers contend the judges made errors, among them failing to make findings of fact supporting their rulings.
The judges found that Morrissey committed three violations of professional rule of conduct, among them a rule that bars the commission of a criminal or deliberately wrongful act that reflects adversely on a lawyer’s honesty, trustworthiness or fitness to practice law.
That violation stemmed from his relationship with his wife. In 2014, Morrissey entered an Alford plea and was convicted of a misdemeanor charge of contributing to the delinquency of a minor involving relations with his then-17-year-old office receptionist, Myrna Morrissey, who is now his wife and the mother of three of their children.
Morrissey said he believed Myrna was 18, and Myrna's mother testified her daughter confessed to her that she had lied to Morrissey and the law firm about her age.
The three-judge panel also ruled that Morrissey violated two rules of conduct in connection with another attorney in his office who represented a man on Morrissey’s behalf before she was completely qualified to do so.
In a 47-page brief filed with the Virginia Supreme Court earlier this year, Morrissey's lawyers are asking the judgment revoking his license be reversed and to dismiss the misconduct charges because of errors made by the panel.
Frank K. Friedman, one of Morrissey's lawyers, primarily complained to the justices Friday that the panel of judges did not make any findings of fact as required.
Matthew R. McGuire, principal deputy solicitor general for Virginia, countered that the judges were not required to make findings of fact and, in any case, they essentially did so.
Even if the justices believed the three-judge panel failed in that regard, McGuire argued that the case should simply be referred back to the panel to make the findings — and not for a new trial.
Morrissey is a former Richmond commonwealth’s attorney, state delegate and Richmond mayoral candidate. His license was revoked in 2003, and the Virginia Supreme Court reinstated his license in 2012.
Much of the misconduct alleged by the Virginia State Bar in Morrissey's most recent revocation occurred in 2013, the year after the justices reinstated his license, McGuire pointed out Friday.
It is not know when the court will act on Morrissey's challenge to the revocation.