Cooke wants his law license back

Ira C. Cooke, who resumed lobbying last year after his California bribery conviction was overturned on appeal, is hoping for one more happy return: the reinstatement of his license to practice law.

His attorney, M. Albert Figinski, was in the Court of Appeals on Thursday to show cause in support of Cooke’s petition for reinstatement. Glenn Grossman, arguing for the Attorney Grievance Commission, also favored Cooke’s return to the bar.

Cooke was disbarred by consent based on the 2004 conviction, which arose out of the failure of a publicly funded counseling clinic in Kern County, Calif. Cooke was accused of funneling half the fees he received from the clinic to the wife of its owner, some $57,000 in all.   The state of California declined to prosecute either Cooke or his co-defendant on remand.

While Thursday’s proceeding was called an oral argument, the Web cast shows precious little in dispute. Figinski laid out the case in favor of his old friend and former law partner. Grossman’s presentation was at least as compelling in Cooke’s favor as Figinski’s. Each pointed to prosecutorial misconduct in the underlying conviction.

Cooke’s innocent explanations for the payments to Bobbie Cumberworth — principally, that she was a legitimate consultant on special education issues — “were buried,” Grossman told the court, while inadmissible evidence was allowed in.

“I don’t know what the trial judge was thinking,” he said.

Given the chance to respond after Grossman, Figinski rose, stood at the microphone and paused briefly before saying, “I think I’ve said quite enough.”

He couldn’t leave it at that, of course, but the judges rewarded the sentiment with a hearty round of laughter.

The court gave no indication of when it would decide.
 
BARBARA GRZINCIC, Managing Editor/Law

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