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Many recall last year’s acquittal in a federal courtroom of Georgia lawyer Mark Shelnutt.  He was accused of and stood trial for several charges, including accepting drug money for legal fees.  Now, however, Shelnutt is facing state charges after video surfaced of his dealing drugs to a confidential informant.  Investigators obtained warrants and he was arrested late last week, says lawyer and founder A. Harrison Barnes.

Shelnutt’s fighting back and asking area residents to not judge him until the facts are known.  He insists it’s a set up as people are “rolling over” on him so that they can avoid jail time.  “Shelnutt was acquitted of thirty six charges in 2009”, says Barnes, “if it’s true he’s on video in this latest case, there’s a very good chance he won’t be so lucky again”.  He was arrested at the Columbus Government Center and charged with eight counts of distribution of a controlled substance.

Shelnutt is currently out on bond and says his law firm is continuing on, “business as usual”.  One police officer said, “That’s the problem”.

So what do these multiple arrests mean and is this a new trend?  A. Harrison Barnes says it’s a shame that a few black marks can taint the legal profession in its entirety.  “But the fact is, there are those in any profession that will make others take a deep breath and hope it passes soon”.

In early 2010, a Memphis attorney, J. Richard Rossie was indicted in a Tennessee courtroom after he was charged with stealing more than $100,000 over the years from a few of his clients.  His law partner was convicted two years earlier for those same charges.  This is indicative of yet another attorney in the legal profession who’s not only pushed the proverbial envelope once, but twice.  Rossie wasn’t indicted with his former partner, but he too was investigated during that trial. Currently, Rossie is awaiting trial and is out on bond.

The American Bar Association keeps statistics on attorneys from every state, including disciplinary actions.  The number of those who had sanctions filed against them or who were disbarred have dropped significantly in recent years.  This proves Barnes’ point.  “There will always be those who feel it’s their right to take things that don’t belong to them, whether they’re attorneys, nurses, iron workers or teachers.  It’s more about human nature than it is about any one profession” says the founder.

For now, Shelnutt is out on bond and reiterates to the press that he will continue to represent his clients and will maintain his same schedule.  He continues to tell anyone who will listen that he’s been set up and that those who are lying are trying to keep their children from being taken away or they’re attempting to prevent having to go to jail.  No date has been set, but it looks like he’ll be facing a judge sooner rather than later.

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