A former Richmond commonwealth's attorney and notorious defense lawyer here, Morrissey was stripped of his license to practice law by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit in 2002 for unprofessional conduct.
He left his firm and moved to Sydney where he quickly became a star. He made the front-page news in The Sydney Morning Herald Aug. 25 when reporter Stephen Gibbs discovered Morrissey had failed to disclose matters of his previous employ namely, that he'd been disbarred when he was appointed as the first mentor to help Australia's 100 Crown prosecutors (the equivalent of district attorneys).
The state's senior Crown prosecutor, Mark Tedeschi, appears initially to have been a fan of Morrissey, having written a letter of support for him to the Legal Practitioners Admission Board and appointing him to the mentoring post.
After the article appeared citing Morrissey's obfuscations, Tedeschi's support, along with that of other barristers, was withdrawn. In a follow-up article March 9, Gibbs writes: "But being instantly famous in Sydney legal circles is not the same as being of good fame and character, and soon, Mr. Tedeschi learnt to his horror that back in Richmond, what Morrissey had most was infamy."
"The fact that people of this city continue to be interested in Joe's welfare is a testament to the impact that his career, however tumultuous, had on the lives of so many Richmonders," says James T. Maloney who once worked under the tutelage of Morrissey and took over the firm.
Will Morrissey be allowed to hold court down under? The matter is now before Justice Peter McClellan to decide. According to Gibbs, Morrissey says he's changed, but the bar association there still doesn't want him practicing because of his offenses in Richmond and his failure to report them. S
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