ON YOUR SIDE: Attorney accused of ignoring suspension

Reported by: Joe Hart
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Updated: 6/22/2014 10:07 am
FALLON, Nev. (MyNews4.com & KRNV) -- Martin Crowley had been practicing law for more than twenty years in Fallon until he was suspended by the Nevada Supreme Court last July. A Nevada State Bar panel found he had violated conflict of interest and misconduct rules in a past business transaction.  

Crowley insists he is an honest lawyer who has being singled out unfairly by the state bar.

"I'm the guy who helps people for free on a regular basis because its the right thing to do," he said.

But Crowley has now run into more trouble. News 4's On Your Side team has learned the Nevada State Bar is investigating whether Crowley is violating the terms of his suspension by continuing to practice law while suspended.

News 4 has confirmed a letter dated September 10, 2013 was sent to Progressive Insurance on behalf of one of Crowley's clients, demanding $45,000 in payment for damages from a car accident. The letter to Progressive finishes by saying "If we do not hear from you or cannot agree on a settlement, litigation will proceed." It is signed, Martin Crowley.

Crowley's suspension was still in effect at the time of the letter. He explained, "It's not practicing law, it's not going to court, it's not even applying the facts."

Crowley says the letter sent to Progressive was a form letter that he signed by mistake. An "honest" mistake, as he calls it, and he insists he is abiding by the terms of his suspension.

The Nevada State Bar won't comment on any of this, but it has amped up its investigation of Crowley. They have filed a new complaint against him, listing more than a dozen new accusations. Among the items outlined in the new complaint are the letter to Progressive Insurance and the fact that Crowley continues to advertise his services with a large billboard and photo of himself outside his office in Fallon, despite the fact that he's suspended.

Crowley is fighting back on his own. He has filed a complaint with the Nevada Stage Bar against Patrick King, a high-ranking Bar official who filed the complaint against him. Crowley says King violated the Bar's own code of ethics by allowing the accusations against him to go public.  

"He violated a (Nevada) Supreme Court rule by making a public accusation of misconduct. He himself has breached the code of ethics," Crowley said.

However, a Supreme Court spokesman says that any case that comes before the court, as this one did, is a matter of public record. Meaning Crowley's battle with the Bar will continue, but it may be an uphill fight.

A Nevada State Bar discipline panel will be in charge of investigating the latest allegations against Crowley. Crowley has also filed a motion with the United States Supreme Court, hoping to get his original suspension overturned. 

If you would like to check to see if disciplinary action has been taken against an attorney in Nevada, the information is published on the Nevada State Bar website at www.nvbar.org.
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