Posted: March 7, 2003
DOVER LOBBYIST REPRIMANDED
By Celia Cohen
Grapevine Political Writer
John J. Thompson, a Legislative Hall lobbyist
for gun rights, was reprimanded by the Delaware Supreme Court for
poor bookkeeping in his Wilmington law practice.
The state's highest court, which oversees the
legal disciplinary system, handed out the public reprimand on Feb.
28 after concluding that Thompson's financial books and records
weren't maintained properly for eight years.
The court noted there wasn't any indication
that Thompson had misused clients' funds.
The punishment ranks on the lower end of
penalties given to Delaware lawyers who violate their profession's
rules of conduct. In ascending order of severity, the available
sanctions are private admonition, public reprimand, suspension and
Thompson is a well-known figure in Dover,
where he advocates for gun owners as the president of the Delaware
State Sportmen's Association, an affiliate of the National Rifle
Association. He can be spotted by his handlebar mustache, which
looks like something out of the frontier West.
Thompson's bookkeeping lapses were found
during a routine audit by an accountant for the Lawyers' Fund for
Client Protection, which periodically reviews attorneys' records,
and reported to the Office of Disciplinary Counsel, which
investigates and prosecutes violations of the legal system's code of
"He knew he wasn't reconciling his books and
records," Disciplinary Counsel Mary S. Much said. "He was somebody
in a very small practice, thinking, I'll get to it, I'll get to it."
Thompson cooperated with the investigation and
was contrite, saying he had no real explanation beyond not being
good at numbers and having a busy practice, according to court
"I'll pay the price, take my medicine,"
Thompson said Friday in a telephone interview.
Thompson is the latest in a growing list of
Delaware lawyers, usually in a solo or small practice, involved in a
crackdown on bookkeeping deficiencies.
The Office of Disciplinary Counsel estimated
last year that record-keeping enforcement accounted for as much of a
quarter of its caseload, and it retained a forensic auditor as an
investigator. A half-dozen or so lawyers were disciplined in 2002
for bookkeeping violations.
"I don't feel singled out," Thompson said.
As a remedial measure, Thompson's practice
will be monitored for three years by Bayard Marin, another
Wilmington lawyer. Some two decades ago, Marin earned himself a
footnote in one of Delaware's most noteworthy congressional races.
In 1982 Marin filed as an unknown Democratic
candidate against U.S. Rep. Thomas B. Evans Jr., a Republican who
became embroiled in a sex scandal. After some feverish maneuvering,
Democratic leaders persuaded the state treasurer, a 35-year-old
politician who appeared to have promise, to run for the Congress,
and Marin stepped aside for Thomas R. Carper.
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