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VA Supreme Court Says Joe Morrissey Still Can't Practice Law

Joe Morrissey
Joe Morrissey was first disbarred in 2003. His license was reinstated by the Virginia Supreme Court in 2012 and revoked again in 2018.

The Supreme Court of Virginia has denied Joe Morrissey’s appeal to get his law license back. Morrissey’s attorneys asked the court to reverse a three-judge panel’s decision last year to disbar the controversial politician.

The court ruled on Thursday that Morrissey’s extensive disciplinary record justifies his disbarment.

“Three points stand out with respect to an appropriate sanction,” the ruling said. “First, rather than take responsibility, Morrissey tries to shift the blame for his actions to others.”

The ruling said Morrissey blamed former employees and even his current wife throughout the case.

“Second, these infractions occurred barely one year after Morrissey regained his law license. Third, and most significantly, we must weigh into the balance the long and notorious book of Morrissey’s disciplinary history - to which one more chapter has now been added.”

The ruling said this voluminous history establishes Morrissey’s chronic unwillingness to follow the rules that govern the law profession.

Morrissey lost his license in 2018 after the state bar accused him of violating professional rules of conduct. The violations stem from two incidents. One was Morrissey’s alleged sexual relationship with his 17-year-old receptionist in 2013. Morrissey was convicted in that case of contributing to the delinquency of a minor; the woman is now his wife.

The second incident involves a former attorney who worked for Morrissey who represented a client on Morrissey’s behalf before she was fully qualified to do so.

Attorneys for Morrissey said in a press release that they were “extremely disappointed" with the ruling and would continue to fight for his reinstatement. Morrissey can petition the Virginia State Bar to get his license back.

“Eighteen of the original twenty-one charges brought by the Virginia State Bar against Mr. Morrissey were found to be without merit at trial, and were summarily rejected by the three-Judge Panel,” Morrissey’s attorneys said. “The remaining three charges we felt were technical offenses, unsupported by the evidence and warranted reversal.”

Morrissey, a former city prosecutor, and state delegate defeated incumbent Senator Rosalyn Dance in the Democratic primary last month.


Whittney Evans is VPM News’ features editor.
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