A criminal defense attorney who represented one of three Twin Cities men convicted in a 2016 ISIS terror-recruitment trial has been disbarred for professional misconduct.
In an order signed Monday by Associate Justice David Lillehaug, the Minnesota Supreme Court disbarred Murad Mowaffak Mohammad for failing to “diligently handle ... matters” involving 11 clients.
According to the order, the misconduct included misappropriating nearly $13,000 from three clients, and failing to both return unearned fees to clients and account for the use of clients’ funds, according to the order.
Mohammad failed to communicate with clients and to show up in court, the order said, and he represented one client despite a conflict of interest. His business finances also violated rules of professional conduct, according to the order.
It’s unclear if any of the misconduct charges related to his work on the terror-recruitment case, but in an interview Wednesday Mohammad said they didn’t. The two-page order did not list client names or specific instances.
“I am terribly sorry if there was a delay in justice or if any clients felt like they’ve been wronged. I care deeply about my clients,” Mohammad said.
According to the order, when the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility launched 11 disciplinary investigations against him, Mohammad refused to cooperate and “made false statements to the Director in two of these investigations.”
He entered into a stipulation for discipline with the Office of Professional Responsibility, agreeing that disbarment was the “appropriate discipline.”
Four murder trials in 2016, a divorce and single parenting led to stress and mental health issues, Mohammad said Wednesday.
“I didn’t take time to make sure I was doing OK so I could help my clients,” he said. “The goal has always been to help people. I hope to get back to that one day.”
Mohammad graduated from the then-William Mitchell College of Law in 2006. He clerked for a Ramsey County District Court judge and was a public defender before going into private practice, according to his LinkedIn page.
Mohammad is best known for his representation of Mohamed Abdihamid Farah, one of nine Twin Cities men convicted of planning to commit murder in the name of ISIS. Six pleaded guilty, and Farah was one of three defendants who went to trial.
On the eve of trial, Farah unsuccessfully tried to have Mohammad removed as his attorney. Farah was convicted and is serving a 30-year federal prison sentence. A federal appellate court rejected his appeal, including arguments that he should have been able to fire Mohammad.