Gun Laws & Legislation

Anti-gun Va. lawmaker who brandished AK-47 in legislature was disbarred after brutal 1999 assault

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David Martosko
Executive Editor

It forced him to attend legal ethics training after he represented a criminal defendant in the same case in which he had previously prosecuted him. Another reprimand came for engaging in a fist fight with a defense attorney whose client he was prosecuting.

In 1999, the bar suspended Morrissey’s law license again, this time for three years, after he made “public statements about the identity, testimony or credibility of prospective witnesses” in a federal court case.

Morrissey was convicted on two counts of contempt of court in that case, and sentenced to 90 days in jail plus three years of probation. The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia also disbarred him, effectively denying him future access to plead cases in federal court.

In a separate case that contributed to that suspension of his law license, Morrissey was cited for contempt in Chesterfield County, Va. after he directed an angry outburst at a judge during a sentencing hearing.

After he was released from jail, Morrissey violated the terms of his probation by “attempting to circumvent the conditions of probation and lying to [his] probation officer,” according to the Virginia State Bar. As a result, he spent an additional 90 days in jail and his law license was formally revoked.

The bar issued a recommendation to the Supreme Court of Virginia in May 2011, arguing that Morrissey’s petition for reinstatement should be denied. The court disagreed, ruling in December 2011 that he could have his law license back after ten years of disbarment.

Morrissey’s AK-47 stunt on Thursday likely pleased at least one man.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported in 2010 that one witness in his license reinstatement hearing was longtime gay-rights activist Guy Kinman, who said he missed Morrissey’s headline-grabbing antics.

“When I pick up the Times-Dispatch, generally his name is not there” anymore, Kinman explained.

“Some of the drama is gone. Where are you Joe? Any drama freaks among us would wish the old Joe were here.”

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