Assistant Hennepin County Attorney Gemma Graham was reprimanded and placed on unsupervised probation by the state Supreme Court for the unauthorized practice of law for 20 years.
Assistant Hennepin County Attorney Gemma Graham was reprimanded Thursday and placed on probation for two years by the state Supreme Court for the unauthorized practice of law for 20 years.
Graham was on "restricted status" because she failed to submit affidavits for her continuing legal education compliance as required by the state Board of Continuing Legal Education, the court's two-page order said.
According to the court, Graham admitted her conduct violated the rules and agreed to the reprimand and probation. The court acted on a petition for discipline filed by the director of the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility. Justice Alan Page signed the order Feb. 1. Justice Lorie Gildea, a former Hennepin County prosecutor, didn't participate. Graham also was ordered to pay $900 in costs.
Graham, one of about 170 lawyers in the county attorney's office, was placed on unpaid leave in May, but eventually returned to work, although it wasn't clear when.
In May, Deputy County Attorney Pat Diamond said that her status didn't jeopardize cases and that her problems were at most a "technical defect." Diamond did not respond to requests for comment and information about Graham's status, her coursework or the office's monitoring practice for attorney compliance. An office spokeswoman also declined to answer the question. Graham did not return a call to her work phone.
Hennepin County Public Defender Lenny Castro said his office unsuccessfully challenged a murder conviction shortly after Graham's problems became public.
"She was sending people to prison without a law license, without authorization from the Supreme Court to practice law. These people take an oath," Castro said of county attorneys.
Asked how such a practice is legal, Castro replied, "We had the same question."
Rochelle Olson • 612-673-1747