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Bar Buzz: Convicted lawyer faces sanctions

An Anoka lawyer who pleaded guilty to felony third-degree sexual misconduct last year is now being brought up for discipline by the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility.

John Michael Huberty

John Michael Huberty

John Michael Huberty, 48, who runs his own downtown Anoka law practice, was given 20 days to respond. Notice that the Feb. 23 petition for disciplinary action has been served was admitted at the Supreme Court on March 8.

Huberty is subject to sanctions ranging from a simple reprimand to disbarment. The Supreme Court will ultimately decide what is appropriate.

He pleaded guilty to an amended felony count of third-degree sexual misconduct on Feb. 12, 2020, and was given a stayed prison sentence with five years’ probation. He also was ordered to spend 30 days in the Anoka County jail and complete 30 days’ work release.

If he satisfies terms of his probation, his felony conviction would be converted to a misdemeanor, according to court records.

A May 10, 2019, Anoka County criminal complaint describes what happened.

On April 29, 2019, it says, police were summoned to a home in Anoka, where they found Huberty. He told officers he had gone there to meet a young male he had met on Grindr, the dating app.

Huberty told police that the male he planned to meet had introduced himself as an 18-year-old, though Huberty said he later learned the youth was 17. In fact, the boy was 15, according to the complaint.

When Huberty arrived at the house that day, he was immediately confronted by the boy’s mother and an uncle. They used their cars to block Huberty’s vehicle from exiting and summoned police.

According to the complaint, the mother had learned from her daughter that, a week earlier, on April 23, 2019, a stranger had visited the house. The girl told her mother she saw her brother with the man inside the boy’s bedroom, both stripped to their underwear.

When she confronted her son about that, the boy claimed the visitor was a friend from school, according to the complaint.

Finding the Grindr app on her son’s mobile phone, she inspected it and found an exchange of inappropriate messages. Confronting the youth, he told her the man he had communicated with had been intimate with him, the complaint says.

She then used her son’s phone to lure Huberty to her home. When he arrived, she and her relative confronted the lawyer. The complaint says Huberty defended himself by saying that, because the youth was 16, he could consent to sex. When informed the boy was only 15, he apologized, the complaint says.

Charges were pressed and nine months later, Huberty entered a guilty plea. Terms of his sentence included a domestic abuse no-contact order to protect the juvenile involved.

As of this writing, Huberty had not filed a reply to the Feb. 23 disciplinary petition.

According to his law firm’s website, Huberty was admitted to practice law in Minnesota in 2002. He was admitted to practice in Minnesota’s U.S. District Court two years later.

His firm’s website boasts that, as an attorney, Huberty has helped achieve dismissals and acquittals for several high-profile clients.

Among cases he highlights is a successful defense in a first-degree criminal sexual conduct case, arising from the Minnesota Vikings’ 2003 Arctic Blast weekend on Mille Lacs Lake. Another is the prosecution of a prominent Twin Cities pediatrician, accused of criminal sexual conduct with patients.

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About Kevin Featherly

Kevin Featherly, who joined BridgeTower Media in mid-2016, is a journalist and former freelance writer who has covered politics, law, business, technology and popular culture for publications and websites in the Twin Cities and nationally since the mid-1990s.

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