JUNEAU — The Alaska Supreme Court has suspended the law license of former U.S. Attorney Wevley Shea, finding “clear and convincing evidence” that he violated professional rules of conduct.
The high court on Wednesday adopted the recommendations of a disciplinary board, which called for Shea’s Alaska license to be suspended for 25 months. The board also said Shea must demonstrate that he is “mentally fit” to return to practicing law before applying for reinstatement of his license.
An Alaska bar committee last year found Shea had a conflict of interest in representing the sister of a former client, David Kyzer, in a family dispute. The panel also found that Shea had made “false statements of fact” against Kyzer or his attorneys in court filings. And it said he acted unprofessionally in court pleadings by using language or displaying conduct the committee described as demeaning, intemperate, frivolous and outrageous.
Shea on Wednesday told The Associated Press that he has the “highest respect” for the Supreme Court but alleged that bar attorneys had hidden evidence and provided a misleading picture.
Bar counsel Steve Van Goor said that if the court believed that type of conduct had occurred, it would have been reflected in the opinion. It wasn’t. Van Goor said that in his 28 years as bar counsel, he’s never seen the Supreme Court issue an order in a disciplinary case so soon after oral arguments as it did in this case. He said his read on that is the court felt it needed to take action as soon as possible.
Oral arguments were held Tuesday. Supreme Court Justice Morgan Christen did not participate in the case.
Shea is a former U.S. Attorney for Alaska who served in the early 1990s. Later, when Sarah Palin was governor, he helped draft ethics reform recommendations for her administration.
Shea told the AP he intended to practice law again. His suspension begins June 17.
Kyzer’s attorney, John Thorsness, said he’s known Shea for 30 years and once considered him a friend. He said none of this had to happen but that Shea “persisted” in attacks against Kyzer, leading to the grievance process that culminated in the supreme court order.
Thorsness said he got no satisfaction from the result but felt it was justified.