On Wednesday, November 9, 2022, the Presiding Disciplinary Judge of the Arizona Supreme Court denied the Petition for the reinstatement of Phoenix attorney Joseph W. Charles. The case is entitled “In the matter of Joseph W. Charles” with Case No. 022-9043R
The suspension first arose out of Mr. Charles’s retention as a mediator in the Blairs’ dissolution case. The Supreme Court found that although Mr. Charles was hired solely to mediate, he filed a petition for dissolution as counsel of record for Mrs. Blair, “who did not direct Respondent to file a petition as her attorney” and “never granted Respondent the authority to act s solely as her attorney.” The Blairs did not give informed consent for Mr. Charles to provide mediation services after he appeared as counsel of record for Mrs. Blair. Additionally, Mr. Charles failed to withdraw as Mrs. Blair’s counsel of record, even after Mr. Blair’s new lawyer asked him to do so based on ER 1.12, which prohibits a lawyer from representing anyone in connection with a matter in which the lawyer participated personally and substantially as a mediator absent informed consent confirmed in writing. Mr. Blair’s 4 lawyers were required to file a motion to disqualify Mr. Charles.
The Order states:
‘The Supreme Court concluded that Mr. Charles engaged in a concurrent conflict of interest in violation of ER 1.7 (a)(2) and also violated ER 1.12(a). During the reinstatement process, Mr. Charles minimized his misconduct in the Blair matter, and it was unclear whether he truly understood the full nature of the misconduct. Notwithstanding the Arizona Supreme Court’s detailed decision order and the 2020 hearing panel’s observation that he “still does not comprehend his ethical failings.
After he was suspended in 2019, Mr. C harles did not comply with Rule 72, Ariz. R. Sup. Ct. or timely withdraw from cases where he had appeared as counsel of record. The hearing panel presiding over the 2020 reinstatement proceeding found that he “acted intentionally in not following the requirements of Rule 72 because to him, the Rule 72 requirement of mailing was ‘the lowest standard.’
The Order continues:
”During psychotherapy, Dr. Wilson testified that Mr. Charles’s past professional problems appear at least partially attributable to an inability to separate his personal views from the ethical requirements governing lawyers. Dr. Wilson believes Mr. Charles’s past efforts at rehabilitation were “prosthetic” and failed because he continued to operate based on his own internal drives and motivations, rather than doing the internal /personal work necessary to address the root of his problems. Dr. Wilson opined that Mr. Charles’s personal motives and co – dependent traits have, at times, overridden the ethical requirements. He explained that Mr. Charles has a desire to “be helpful and be known as being helpful,” which has resulted in poor boundaries.’
According to the Presiding Disciplinary Judge, Mr. Charles failed to prove his rehabilitation with clear and convincing evidence. To show rehabilitation, an applicant must first establish by clear and convincing evidence that he has identified just what weaknesses caused the misconduct and then demonstrate that he has overcome those weaknesses. Hence, the court denies Mr. Charles’s petition for reinstatement.
The Disposition states:
“For the reasons stated, the hearing panel unanimously recommends that Mr. Charles’ application for reinstatement be denied.”
As of today, Mr. Charles is listed on the website of law firm Joseph W. Charles, P.C. as a practicing attorney. Charles practices in Phoenix, Arizona. He has been licensed in Arizona. His info can be found on Linkedin.
A copy of the original filing can be found here.