Dan K. Purdy, an 86-year-old Missouri lawyer, has been indefinitely suspended for groping six of his clients.
The Missouri Supreme Court reached a 4-3 decision on March 21st, imposing the suspension but not disbarment. A disciplinary panel had recommended disbarment, but the majority of the judges decided on an indefinite suspension with no option to apply for reinstatement for 12 months.
Judge Zel M. Fischer, however, argued for disbarment, stating that Purdy’s conduct was “egregious and outrageous.” In Fischer’s dissent, he argued that the time for temporary suspension as a punishment for sexually assaulting or harassing a client had passed. Fischer also argued that Purdy’s old age should not be a factor in determining appropriate discipline.
Video footage from September 2020 confirmed that Purdy made sexual advances toward four female clients in a jail interview room, including kissing and reaching underneath their jumpsuits. In March 2021, Purdy was caught on courtroom video touching a client’s buttocks. A sixth client recorded a video in September 2021 that showed Purdy rubbing her breast while driving.
In his defense, Purdy claimed that his clients were “enticing” him and promised not to repeat similar acts. However, the disciplinary hearing panel found his claims disingenuous as he continued with his pattern of improper conduct after the ethics case was filed against him.
Purdy has a history of violating ethics rules, which resulted in several admonishments, one reprimand for violating ethics rules regarding communication, safeguarding property, diligence, and responsibility towards legal assistants. He also received a stayed suspension for notarizing documents without witnessing his client’s signature.
Despite Purdy’s full disclosure to the disciplinary board and submitting multiple letters attesting to his good character, the majority judge, George W. Draper III, found the suspension consistent with punishment for past sexual misconduct by lawyers.
Purdy had argued that he did not require further discipline, or in the alternative, he should receive an indefinite suspension “with leave to apply for reinstatement after six months.” However, the court rejected his argument.
You can read more about this case here
If Purdy does apply for reinstatement, he will almost certainly have to pass the MPRE (Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination) as a mandatory step towards being able to practice law once again. And whether you need to pass the MPRE as a prerequisite for your first time admittance or you must re-take to get your law license back, we offer a free online MPRE course for your use. Our 16 hour program will prepare you to pass the MPRE with confidence. You can sign up for free here