Mobile criminal defense attorney Michael McDuffie was arrested Nov. 4 on a misdemeanor charge of harassment, after allegedly “hugging and kissing an inmate” at the Mobile County Metro Jail, according to District Attorney Ashley Rich. Jail records indicate he turned himself in at 11:22 a.m. and was released on bond within an hour. Rich said the case is being prosecuted in municipal court and her office will have no oversight.
McDuffie, 72, was arrested on a similar charge in 2018, after he allegedly made suggestive comments and shared self-published erotic literature with a younger female attorney. At the time, other female attorneys told Lagniappe about similar experiences with McDuffie.
Last week, the plaintiff in McDuffie’s 2018 harassment case said the case was dismissed because the timeline could not be corroborated with statutes of limitations. Lindsay Mims, who currently practices immigration law in Colorado, said she attempted to handle the charge administratively before filing the complaint.
When it was dismissed, “for totally valid reasons,” Mims said, she filed a complaint against McDuffie with the Mobile Bar Association and Alabama State Bar. Proceedings in such complaints are typically confidential, but Mims said she recently was told the state bar had filed formal charges against McDuffie.
Mims also revealed that the first time McDuffie made an inappropriate sexual comment to her was when they were both in a small cell at Mobile Metro Jail, “so I can say it’s a pattern.”
“Under our confidentiality rules, we can’t confirm or deny any investigations or open files until someone is adjudicated guilty or a plea agreement is entered,” said Roman Shaul, general counsel for the Alabama State Bar. “What we can say is that it is not unusual for us to prosecute lawyers when they are arrested. It doesn’t matter if the arrest is related to their law practice or is purely private conduct. Violating criminal laws generally reflects on an individual’s character and fitness to practice law.”
Jail records also indicate he was arrested in 2008 on a charge of promoting prison contraband.
McDuffie is a graduate of Faulkner University’s Thomas Goode Jones School of Law and was admitted to the state bar in 1988. State Department of Finance records indicate McDuffie was assigned 157 indigent criminal cases in 2019 and was compensated $38,441 for the work.
On Thursday, McDuffie filed a motion to withdraw from a burglary case he was defending in circuit court, telling Judge Jay York he is “closing his office and relocating to Florida.”
“Counsel has a few retained cases he will complete, but his office will not be fully operational during this transition,” he wrote.
A search for McDuffie among active attorneys on the website of the Florida State Bar returned no results.
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