Documents released by the Alabama State Bar Association Thursday, along with a search of the association’s website, bolstered a story Lagniappe reported earlier this week — that State Auditor Jim Zeigler’s surrender of his law license in February was the result of a disciplinary action.
In recent weeks Zeigler has told Lagniappe and other media outlets he surrendered his license because he decided not to run for attorney general and would no longer need it, but multiple sources close to the matter have told Lagniappe the surrender was forced and the result of a complaint filed with the Mobile Bar Association related to a case he was handling personally.
Earlier this week Phillip McCallum, executive director of the Alabama Bar Association was unable to offer much information regarding Zeigler’s surrender of his license due to confidentiality requirements, but he did confirm that Zeigler is not eligible to have his license reinstated for five years. That is the same length of time a disbarred attorney must wait before being able to apply for re-admission to the bar.
On Thursday the state bar released the May 9 order from the Supreme Court accepting the voluntary surrender of Zeigler’s license and ordering the cancelation of “the privilege granted to James W. Zeigler to practice law in all the Courts of the State of Alabama.” The order lists both Zeigler and the Disciplinary Commission of the Alabama State Bar Association as principals in the matter.
Also released was an April 18 order from the Bar’s Disciplinary Commission accepting the surrender of Zeigler’s license, as well as his Feb. 19 letter to the Bar’s General Counsel Doug McKelvey resigning from the bar and surrendering his license, as well as returning his bar membership card.
“My resignation and surrender of license are voluntary and immediate,” he wrote.
Investigation of the ABA’s website, though, lists Zeigler’s license surrender on its “Discipline History” page, placing him alongside attorneys who have either been disbarred or forced to surrender their licenses. Under the heading “Discipline Imposed” it says “Surrender of license” next to a description identifying Zeigler as the attorney disciplined.
Zeigler, whose practice was called Zeigler Elder Care, has spoken with Lagniappe twice regarding the matter and insisted his license surrender was nothing more than his desire to not have to pay bar dues and malpractice insurance and that he does not intend to work as an attorney again. He has denied being the subject of a bar complaint. Multiple attempts to contact him again over the past few days have been unsuccessful.
Friday morning al.com reported that Zeigler told them any voluntary surrender of a license always goes through the Bar’s Disciplinary Commission and that he was neither asked nor forced to surrender the license.
However, attorneys who retire have the option to simply go inactive rather than actually giving up their license.
Zeigler is currently running for re-election as State Auditor and is the Republican nominee. He faces Democrat Miranda Joseph in November.