Defender Disbarred For Seeking Payments
Public defenders are assigned by the courts to assist individuals who do not have the financial means available to pay for an attorney. Guillermo Romero, a former public defender in Grant County, Washington, appeared to have overlooked the part about not asking for payment. Romero was disbarred by the Washington Supreme Court for requesting and receiving payment from seven clients over six years.
Just in case he wasn’t in enough hot water, Romero was found to have failed to file timely personal income tax returns for four years. However, once he found himself under investigation, he did manage to file for three of the four years in question. He owed approximately $150,000 in back taxes, interest and penalties.
Questions remained as to why the county continued to appoint him to cases as a public defender when a court had twice previously ruled he was incompetent as a lawyer.
Source: “Guillermo Romero, a former public defender in Grant County”, Florangela Davila, Seattle Times, July 23, 2004, http://community.seattletimes.nwsource.com/archive/?date=20040723&slug=romero23m