On March 8, the Supreme Court suspended the license of state Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson for nonpayment of dues. I’ve sent him a note asking whether he’s cleared the matter up. Hutchinson has been practicing law periodically, including for clients he subsequently helped, coincidentally, with legislation. Not that advocating a former client’s interest in the Senate is practicing law (though some might find it unseemly). Hutchinson, with a rambunctious former girlfriend who improperly received some of his campaign cash and a losing legal battle over debts owed a campaign consultant, has had a series of personal problems. More fodder for Rep. Ann Clemmer, who has said she’ll run against Hutchinson for Senate next year.
I wonder: Could Hutchinson take referral work from Texarkana plaintiffs’ lawyer John Goodson during a suspension? I don’t mean to count as legal work being Goodson’s highly valuable advocate for a tort reform proposal that sabotaged the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce’s march to a tough tort reform proposal.
On the subject of lawyer dues: Reader Radical Centrist noted on the open line last night that former President Bill Clinton also turned up on the list of Arkansas lawyers suspended March 8 for non-payment of bar dues. The Arkansas Supreme Court record doesn’t indicate if he’s cleared up the matter and I’ve sent a query about it. It’s not very important. He hasn’t been practicing law, being busy with a few other things. He served a five-year suspension that ended in 2006 over testimony he gave in the Whitewater investigations when he became eligible for reinstatement.
UPDATE: Dues are payable between Jan. 1 and March 1 each year. Each attorney gets a letter in December as a reminder. If they are not paid, a computer program automatically suspends a license. Judges in the state got the list yesterday of those suspended, which explains the news coming out yesterday. There were about 700 on the list. Renewal requires only payment of dues and a late fee. A spokesman in the Supreme Court clerk’s office said Sen. Hutchinson paid his fee this morning and the website will be updated this evening to show he’s in good standing. The annual dues are $200 and the late fee is $100.
As for Bill Clinton: He never applied for reinstatement of his law license after his five-year suspension and hasn’t paid dues since 2000. But his name automatically turns up on the list each year regardless. The list of 700 typically includes the names of many lawyers no longer practicing or dead.
A lawyer who practices after a suspension takes effect is practicing without a license. That can potentially have consequences for a client. For example, an attorney might file a pleading in a criminal or civil case that could be held invalid because it wasn’t filed by a licensed lawyer. A refiling could come after a statute of limitation had tolled.