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Across the Nation: Representation for weed, sex with clients

Will work for marijuana: Oops. Louisiana lawyer’s license suspended

NEW ORLEANS — A Louisiana lawyer who worked in exchange for marijuana has been suspended from practice for a year. The state’s Supreme Court rejected a disciplinary board’s recommendation to let attorney James Mecca keep working.

Mecca pleaded guilty in 2014 to a misdemeanor first-offence charge of possessing marijuana in 2013. His six-month jail sentence was suspended and he has served a year of probation, according to an unsigned Supreme Court opinion Friday.

The license suspension is a disciplinary matter, rather than criminal law.

The St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office set up a sting after an informant reported that she’d paid Mecca earlier in marijuana, and he had offered to represent her again for the “same old, same old.”

Drug officers taped a phone conversation in which the informant said she had “a whole backpack full” of “smoke.” She then set up a meeting at which she gave Mecca about a half-pound of marijuana provided by the sheriff’s office, according to the opinion. He was stopped for a traffic violation and arrested on charges of running a stop sign and possessing marijuana with intent to distribute it, the opinion recounted.

The arrest made news on Jan. 14, 2014, and Mecca reported the arrest the next day to the Office of Disciplinary Counsel.

The Louisiana State Bar’s disciplinary board had recommended a “fully deferred” two-year suspension that would have let him keep working while he was on probation.

The court found that too light, ordering a one-year actual suspension.

“Considering that respondent bartered his legal services for illegal drugs, directly implicating the practice of law and causing harm to the legal profession, we will not defer any portion of the suspension,” four of the seven justices said in the written opinion.

Two justices recommended lighter discipline, noting that Mecca cooperated with investigators and went through drug treatment. One said it could have been more severe.


Prominent personal injury lawyer found in car died of cocaine overdose

DALLAS  — An autopsy on a prominent personal injury lawyer found unresponsive in his car showed that he died of an accidental cocaine overdose.

Brian Loncar was found Dec. 4 in the front seat of his vehicle, which was parked in front of his downtown Dallas law office.

The Dallas County medical examiner’s office says the autopsy showed hypertension and hardening of the arteries were secondary factors in the 56-year-old lawyer’s death.

Loncar’s death came two days after the funeral for his 16-year-old daughter, who killed herself on Nov. 26. According to Grace Loncar’s obituary, she had battled depression.

Brian Loncar was well-known in Texas for his television advertisements, in which he branded himself the “strong arm.” His firm has offices across the state.


North Carolina lawyer disbarred after admitting sex with his clients

CHARLOTTE, N.C.  — A Charlotte attorney has been disbarred after acknowledging he slept with several immigration clients.

Documents from the North Carolina State Bar show Christopher Greene surrendered his law license after being confronted with the results of a disciplinary investigation.

The documents were filed earlier this month in Raleigh.

Greene said he has had sex with current and former clients over the past five years and that all of them were immigration clients who were especially vulnerable. He also acknowledged sending sexual and sexually suggestive messages to his clients.

Both actions violate professional standards for attorneys.

Greene joined the state bar in 1998. He cannot ask to have his law license restored for at least five years.

Greene’s attorney, Lane Williamson, said Tuesday he could not comment on the case.


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