Attorney argues he was retiring from practice anyway
A Louisiana Supreme Court order states former St. Charles Parish District Attorney Harry Morel has been permanently disbarred from practicing law, but his attorney says they agreed to the move because he was retired anyway.
Morel, who pleaded guilty to one felony count of obstructing justice in April in connection with a federal investigation accusing him of trading leniency in cases for sex, received the court order.
On Friday, the Supreme Court issued the order stating Morel was allowed to permanently resign from practicing law in lieu of disciplinary action.
The Office of Disciplinary Counsel concurred on the move.
Morel’s attorney, Ralph Capitelli, said Morel, who is 73 years old, had voluntarily submitted his license to practice law to the Louisiana Bar Association prior to him pleading guilty to obstructing justice because he was no longer practicing law and had retired some time ago.
Capitelli also maintained there was no hearing or disbarment for Morel. But he also said the order resulted from Morel’s guilty plea in April.
“There really was no sense in us contesting it,” he said. “It was the fact that once this occurred it clearly would have been an involved, long run out process to right any Bar Association action related to this.
It avoided a full-blown hearing where he wasn’t practicing law anyway.” Capitelli called it the “most expeditious move” but said it was a move in lieu of disciplinary action.
According to the Supreme Court’s May 13 order, Morel has been disbarred.
He can not practice law in Louisiana or any other jurisdiction where he was permitted to practice law, he is permanently prohibited from seeking readmission to practicing law and is permanently prohibited from seeking admission to practice law in any jurisdiction, the order states.
Morel is scheduled for sentencing for obstruction of justice on Aug. 17.As part of a plea deal, he faces up to three years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
A 15-page case summary includes transcripts of FBI recordings that focus on the late Danelle Keim and Morel conversations.According to FBI recordings on July 23, 2012, Morel visited Keim’s apartment with two bottles of wine and the two discussed the status of the letters he provided to help her out of community service related to her DWI conviction.
At a press conference following Morel’s plea, U.S. Attorney Kenneth Polite said the parish’s former DA acknowledged he will likely receive three years in prison as a result of his criminal conduct.
“Today, after many thought it would never happen, at the age of 73, even Harry Morel had to answer the call of justice,” Polite said.
Polite called Morel “a man who perverted his position of power to take advantage of desperate women who needed help and he did this over and over again.”