JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (CN) - An attorney's self-imposed penalty is not sufficient for his role in an autographed baseball scandal, the Missouri Supreme Court ruled. The court indefinitely suspended Brian Zink's law license. Zink will be able to reapply in 6 months.
The decision rejects a disciplinary recommendation that suggested a retroactive suspension of Zink's license to coincide with a deferred prosecution agreement that Zink reached independently with the U.S. attorney's office.
Zink represented Mary Hart, who was facing forgery charges in St. Charles County. Hart claimed to be the godchild of NFL Hall of Famer Terry Bradshaw. Zink allegedly worked out an agreement with the prosecuting attorney to have the sentence reduced in exchange for a baseball autographed by Bradshaw.
The FBI allegedly recorded Zink telling Hart that he could get the felonies "taken care of" if she produced the baseball.
After being presented with the evidence, Zink worked out a deal with the U.S. Attorney's office to voluntarily quit practicing law for one year - from June 25, 2007 to June 26, 2008 - to avoid prosecution.
But the Missouri Supreme Court ruled that that was not enough.
"Zink's diversion agreement was an independent agreement between Zink and the United States attorney's office," Justice Zel M. Fisher wrote in a unanimous opinion. "By completing the diversion agreement, Zink received the benefit of his bargain " Zink would not be prosecuted for making false and misleading statements. Zink's agreement was made without consultation of this Court or the OCDC, and that agreement was binding only between Zink and the United States attorney's office. To hold otherwise would invade this Court's inherent authority to administer attorney discipline."
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