Prominent Minneapolis attorney Barry Voss disbarred for misconduct

  • Article by: Paul Walsh
  • Star Tribune
  • May 22, 2013 - 8:40 PM

A well-known Minneapolis defense attorney was disbarred Wednesday from practicing law in Minnesota after being accused of multiple counts of professional misconduct, including dodging taxes, failing to represent paying clients and not cooperating with an investigation into his actions.

The action against Barry V. Voss, 60, by the Minnesota Supreme Court, which in practical terms means he is done from ever practicing law again in the state, drew dissents from two of the justices, Paul H. Anderson and Alan Page. They argued for a four-year suspension.

The Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility filed a complaint in November 2011 against Voss, who in more than 33 years represented defendants in several high-profile criminal cases. They include Derick Holliday, convicted of murder for a random shooting at Block E in 2006. He also represented Joseph Robert “Big Joe” Gustafson, the now-imprisoned leader of the “Beat-Down Posse.” Voss also describes himself as a public speaker, life coach and author.

The complaint accused Voss of several acts of misconduct, many related to clients who paid Voss, then allegedly received subpar representation or none at all.

A working business telephone number for Voss could not be found. A message was left at his home seeking reaction to the court’s action. According to the professional board’s complaint:

Voss would not return the clients’ money or respond to multiple telephone messages. In one case, he withdrew from serving as an attorney for a defendant because of a conflict of interest, but allegedly would not return a $9,000 retainer. In another, he failed to file a post-conviction petition on behalf of a client, then would not refund that client’s $15,000.

In yet another, he did not file a timely appeal on behalf of a client. The complaint also accused Voss of failing to pay employer withholding taxes from 2008 to 2010.

When the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility contacted Voss to request additional information regarding the various complaints against him, he did not respond or took several months to supply the requested information, according to the complaint.

Voss claimed at the time of the complaints that he never withheld money from his clients and that some of the allegations range from incidents such as standing at a lectern with a blank legal pad, leading his client to believe he wasn’t doing any work. He hired a new accountant to clear up the tax allegations, and he contended that he sent more than 100 pages of responses to the board’s inquiries.

Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482

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