David W. Venable: Liberty lost

December 11, 2012 

Liberty lost

As a lawyer and as a citizen, I am disappointed in the State Bar’s actions as reported Nov. 28 in “State bar sanctions former prosecutor.” Jan Paul, a prosecutor entrusted with great powers by the citizens of this state, abused those powers to knowingly have an innocent woman arrested. In short, Paul robbed this citizen of her liberty.

But for the quick actions of the presiding judge, this citizen could have spent the weekend or longer in jail. Despite these actions, the State Bar declined to actively suspend, or revoke, Paul’s license to practice law.

In contrast, I rightfully expect that if I violate the trust given to a lawyer and take one dollar from my trust account from any client for even one minute for an improper purpose, I will lose my license and likely never get it back.

The decision by the State Bar not to actively suspend Paul’s license, nor to revoke it, appears to indicate that the money of a client is more valuable than the liberty of a citizen. Or, that a prosecutor’s abuse of her power to rob a citizen of her liberty is not as serious a violation as a lawyer robbing a client of her money. On both counts, I disagree.

David W. Venable, Raleigh

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