Nevada Lawyer With Gambling Addiction Who Stole $400,000 From Clients is Given a Five Year Suspension

250px-set_of_poker_chips_in_caseA frequent commentator on local television in Las Vegas, Douglas Crawford, 53, admits to stealing roughly $400,000 from his client, charging for work never performed, and violating court orders. Despite 65 violations of the Rule of Professional Conduct, the Nevada Supreme Court declared him to be addicted to both gambling and drug and rejected calls for disbarment. Instead, it suspended him for five years.

The decision rejects a unanimous recommendation of the State Bar of Nevada to disbar Crawford. The panel wrote a scathing report:

“If this were to happen even one more time to an innocent client whose life savings were lost due to an act of Mr. Crawford, it would be a black stain upon the State Bar and the attorneys who abide, on a daily basis, to the professional ethics of that organization which could never be erased, The risk is too great and, therefore, after much soul searching and discussion, it is the final decision of this panel that Mr. Crawford be disbarred as an attorney and refused the opportunity to ever practice law in this jurisdiction again.”

The court, however, showed considerable mercy and relief upon the “mental disabilities of depression and gambling addiction” as well as character witnesses and his expressed remorse. He would have to pass the bar exam again to resume practice.

This is in direct contradiction of the fact found by by the panel:

“He has testified he is a changed man and the Panel certainly hopes he is. However, his direct testimony was that it was the pressures of the practice of law which caused him to succumb, the first time, into these terrible and despicable depths. The Panel finds nothing upon which they can rest a guarantee that if Mr. Crawford were allowed to practice law again the same practice would not cause him to suffer the same degree of stress and react in the same manner to that stress.”

It is the reliance on the gambling addiction which is interesting. Courts have previously recognized gambling as an addiction, but it remains rare to see it used as the basis for leniency in a bar proceeding of this kind. Of course, continuing to practice in Las Vegas as a recovering gambling addict will be a bit more difficult than other cities.

For the full story, click here and here.

8 thoughts on “Nevada Lawyer With Gambling Addiction Who Stole $400,000 From Clients is Given a Five Year Suspension”

  1. As one of this attorney’s clients, I have and will continue to attest to his kind heart, generous nature, and the wellspring of “good” at his core. I found him to be nothing but professional, and he went far beyond anything he needed to do to be of help to me. I am relieved he was not disbarred, as I believe disbarring such a fine lawyer — who I truly believe is now on track — is a waste of his education and minimizes his chances of paying restitution in a timely manner.

  2. Unfortunately and believe it or not. Lawyers are people too. One point to consider before anymore negative points are stated. Addition(s) from whatever source are predominate in the legal profession. As a side note Depression is very common as well. Depression is something that escapes a label in the legal field because they are, the Lawyers, are always thinking about something or some just kinda act weird and it is blamed on stress. More often than not they suffer from some sort of depression and its hidden in an addiction of sort.

    Minnesota has an Organization called LCL. (Lawyers caring for Lawyers. I know it is mutually exclusive and collectively exhausted. or for lack of a better word Oxymoron.)

    People do not understand the stress that a Trial Attorney goes through. Especially if they practice criminal law or family law. Lives are at stake in either. especially if they are “solo” practitioners’.

    I am not making excuses. I am talking about myself.

  3. Yeah, but with his condition, he’s still going to crap out living in Vegas. It’s just a matter of time.

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