The state of Missouri’s Chief Disciplinary Counsel, who oversees ethical complaints against lawyers, is urging the state’s Supreme Court to suspend the law licenses of Mark and Patricia McCloskey after the pair pled guilty to a misdemeanors related to their display of firearms outside their home last summer while hundreds of protesters marched through their gated community on their way to demonstrate outside the home of then-Mayor Lyda Krewson.
According to Alan Pratzel, who’s served as chief disciplinary counsel since 2007, the couple’s “indifference to public safety” and “moral turpitude” are so serious that they shouldn’t be allowed to practice law for at least six months, despite the fact that they’ve both received a pardon from Gov. Mike Parson.
Pratzel cited a host of other Missouri cases in which lawyers were disciplined for crimes involving moral turpitude. He recommended that the Supreme Court indefinitely suspend the McCloskeys’ licenses with no leave to reapply for reinstatement for six months.
Missouri Gov. Mike Parson pardoned both McCloskeys on July 30. But in his motion, Pratzel said that while a pardon erases a person’s conviction, “the person’s guilt remains.”
The McCloskeys did not respond to a request for comment.
Both McCloskeys were admitted to the Missouri bar in 1986. The couple practice together as the McCloskey Law Center and focus on personal injury, medical malpractice and defective products cases.
Even after pleading guilty to the misdemeanor charge, Mark McCloskey was unrepentant. As Pratzel noted in his motion, McCloskey publicly declared, “The prosecutor dropped every charge except for alleging that I purposely placed other people in imminent risk of physical injury; right, and I sure as heck did. That’s what the guns were there for and I’d do it again any time the mob approaches me, I’ll do what I can to place them in imminent threat of physical injury because that’s what kept them from destroying my house and my family.”
McCloskey probably didn’t do himself any favors with the state’s Supreme Court with his post-plea remarks, but it remains to be seen whether a majority of justices will agree with Pratzel’s recommendation that he and his wife have their law licenses suspended for six months. And with Mark McCloskey campaigning for the U.S. Senate seat that will be left vacant with the retirement of Sen. Roy Blunt, it’s unclear how much legal work he’s doing at the moment anyway.
It’s also worth noting that McCloskeys aren’t the only ones involved in this case who could be sanctioned by the state Supreme Court. Back in May, Pratzel released the results of an investigation into St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner, and found numerous examples of professional misconduct related to her prosecution of former Gov. Eric Greitens (who’s now, like Mark McCloskey, running for U.S. Senate). Gardner was booted from the case against the McCloskeys as well, after a judge found that the prosecutor had used the high-profile case to raise campaign funds for her re-election last year.
So far Gardner’s been able to avoid any official sanction by the state Supreme Court, which may be good news for the McCloskeys. I have a hard time believing that a majority of the justices on the state’s highest court would suspend the McCloskeys’ law licenses over their guilty plea to misdemeanor charges while letting their one-time prosecutor off the hook for her own misconduct, but if they do, I’m sure Mark McCloskey will use the one-sided sanctions as fodder on the campaign trail.