Martha Neil at the ABAJournal reports on the suspension of a former federal prosecutor who procrastinated away his law license by failing to obtain and maintain his continuing legal education credits. If you suspect that issues with alcohol abuse underlie this professional and personal tragedy for David Folmar, you'd not be wrong. This is the Salisbury (North Carolina) Post.com follow up report on Mr. Folmar's 2009 DUI:
The assistant U.S. attorney who continued to try cases after his state bar license had been suspended also was convicted in 2008 of driving while impaired. Court records show that David P. Folmar Jr., who formerly worked for U.S. Attorney Anna Mills Wagoner of Salisbury, pleaded guilty last spring to driving while impaired the night of Dec. 24, 2007, in Kernersville.
He continued serving as an assistant U.S. attorney for the middle district of North Carolina until this March. In May, the Post reported that Wagoner had fired Folmar March 9 after learning he had been prosecuting federal cases in the middle district even though his N.C. bar license had been suspended in 2003.
Wagoner said Folmar's suspended status only came to her attention March 6 when her office received an e-mail from an employee at the N.C. State Bar. She later confirmed that Folmar had not had an active state bar license since Nov. 14, 2003.
His license had been administratively suspended in 2003 for not complying with continuing legal education requirements. Wagoner's office turned the matter over to the U.S. Department of Justice's Office of Professional Responsibility, which reports to the U.S. attorney general.
The office investigates allegations of misconduct involving department attorneys. A spokesperson for OPR confirmed earlier that the office is looking into the Folmar case. The DWI conviction was a separate matter, and Folmar ended up receiving a 30-day suspended sentence and had to pay a $100 fine and $120 in court costs. A Forsyth County District Court judge also sentenced him to 24 hours of community service and ordered Folmar to receive out-patient substance-abuse counseling.
According to reports, police said Folmar had a blood-alcohol content the night of Dec. 24, 2007, of 0.22, almost three times the legal limit of 0.08. He remained on Wagoner's staff of 23 assistant U.S. attorneys despite the DWI conviction and reportedly was disciplined in-house. Wagoner informed Chief U.S. District Court Judge James A. Beaty Jr. on March 13 about Folmar's having tried cases while having a suspended license.
She said she had no reason to believe that Folmar's appearance before the court, though he had misrepresented himself as a licensed attorney, 'had any material effect on any case.' In her letter to Beaty, Wagoner enclosed a list of pending cases before the court to which Folmar had been the assigned prosecutor, and she said other assistant U.S. attorneys would be taking over those cases.
Wagoner's office also compiled a list of closed cases Folmar had handled and furnished that list to the court and defense counsel from each of those cases. The N.C. State Bar says 'suspended' means the member is not currently eligible to practice law in North Carolina."
Federal prosecutors are particularly professional and skilled attorneys. Part of the reason the 2006 Bush Justice Department dismissals of US Attorneys caused such a hue and cry is that for the most part US Attorneys and federal prosecutors are known for competence. For this sort of thing to happen is very unusual. The federal system has always been on the cutting edge of detecting and addressing alcohol and substance abuse issues. I can imagine that Mr. Folmar's problems at this point are tremendously problematic, since as a federal employee his statements about his qualifications and credentials as a lawyer ,if false, were federal offenses.
The other problem alluded to in the Post article: lawyers handling legal matters are presumed to be qualified members of the bar. Mr. Folmar was not, and each of those matters he handled for the US will get another look at some cost to the taxpayers.
There's a College building at a major university in OurTown named after a local lawyer (known for representing a famous Basketball star who now plays for the Miami Heat) who has on occasion not maintained his CLE credits or timely paid his annual registration fee and sustained temporary suspensions, quickly recitified I might add by the lawyer who explained he was "too busy," or guilty of "a secretarial oversight." It happens.