Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Alaska Supreme Court Suspends Law License Of Former Alaska U.S. Attorney Wev Shea And Questions His Mental Stability; Shades Of Richard Postma

Ed Note: Originally posted May 18th, 2011 on the backup blog; transferred over.

After initially reading the full story on the Anchorage Daily News, my first thought was Richard Postma all over again. On May 18th, 2011, the Alaska Supreme Court suspended the law license of former U.S. Attorney Wevley Shea, finding clear and convincing evidence that he violated professional rules of conduct. KTVA Channel 11 news video embedded below:



The court's official three-page announcement indicates that the case was heard before four of the five justices; Justice Morgan Christen did not participate. A more detailed written opinion is expected to be posted later on the Alaska Supreme Court website.

The court's decision mirrors the recommendations of a disciplinary board, which called for Shea's license to be suspended for 25 months. The board also said Shea must demonstrate that he is mentally fit to return to practicing law before applying for reinstatement of his license. The board's findings reflected the recommendations by an Alaska bar committee, first published on June 17th, 2010; at the time, Shea disputed the allegations and findings, and expressed his intent to appeal.

The allegations and findings included conflict of interest, false statements of fact, and use of language or displaying conduct the committee described as "demeaning, intemperate, frivolous and outrageous". His mental stability is questioned because he did not "appreciate that his actions were inappropriate". The conflict of interest allegation was related to the fact that Shea represented Deborah Ivy, the sister of former client David Kyzer, in a family dispute. In reaction, Shea merely said he intends to practice law again; his suspension begins June 17th.

There's a certain amount of political "Newspeak" embedded in this report, as reflected by the following statements:

-- Statement: "...acted unprofessionally in court pleadings by using language or displaying conduct the committee described as demeaning, intemperate, frivolous and outrageous".

----- Translation: Wev Shea argued passionately and eloquently on behalf of his client instead of throwing her under the bus.

-- Statement: "Respondent still does not appreciate that his actions were inappropriate."

----- Translation: Wev Shea had the audacity to dispute the experts' findings. When you dispute the findings of so-called experts in modern-day Soviet America, it is considered a sign of mental illness. The Soviet Union used to confine dissidents in mental hospitals during the closing days of its regime.

There are many similarities between this case and the case of former Judge Richard Postma, who many believe was railroaded off the bench by the Alaska Judicial Council in 2010 with the help of gullible voters. Like Wev Shea, Judge Postma also was accused of intemperate language and had his mental stability questioned; he was accused of behaving abusively towards court clerks. The fact is that Postma actually questioned a court calendaring system that, in his opinion, promoted judge-shopping and forum-shopping by attorneys; Postma viewed this practice as detrimental to the Alaska judicial system. And he ultimately paid the price, not only by being recommended for rejection at the ballot box by the Alaska Judicial Council, but by having that recommendation upheld by voters in November 2010. Postma initially intended to sue over the outcome, but on December 16th, 2010 decided to drop any litigation efforts. Unfortunately, Richard Postma has since taken down his website where he stated his case, and retains only a Facebook shell.

According to Alaska Dispatch, Wev Shea has been an outspoken critic of Alaska's GOP political corruption; in this March 2009 C-Span video, Shea spoke about the trial and conviction of former Senator Ted Stevens on corruption and fraud charges, criticizing the prosecutors who withheld evidence and misled the court in the proceedings. Shea was a former U.S. Attorney for Alaska from 1990 to 1993. He also was a deputy prosecuting attorney in Honolulu from 1981 to 1982. Shea joined the U.S. Navy in 1961, serving in combat from 1967 to 1969, with a nuclear delivery certification in A-6 Intruder attack jets.

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