Elrick to councilman Cushingberry: Why are you pretending you're still a lawyer?

Detroit City Councilman George Cushingberry's license to practice law was suspended last year, and again last month.

But even though Cushingberry can't practice law, the city council's second-highest ranking member still looks like he's still looking for clients.

The rule for suspended lawyers is simple: If your license is suspended, you can't practice law. You can't even promote yourself as a lawyer. But, once again, it seems George Cushingberry feels he doesn't have to answer to anyone.

ELRICK TO CUSHINGBERRY: Councilman, councilman, why are you still pretending that you're a lawyer?

George Cushingberry agreed not to practice law last year after Paul Haddad complained that Cushingberry took his case, took his money, then took a powder.

PAUL HADDAD: Mr. Cushingberry, we contacted him twice, he never answered.

Cushingberry's license was suspended again this year, after Debora Goodner complained that he took her case, then blew her off.

DEBORA GOODNER: He says Ms. Goodner, I promise you I'm going to get that money to you soon. I never heard a word from him.

University of Detroit Law Professor Larry Dubin is a former chairman of the Attorney Grievance Commission. He says that when your law license is suspended, you can't even call yourself a lawyer.

LARRY DUBIN: You can't put yourself in a position where you can meet potential clients, which means have a telephone that lists you as a lawyer where people can call you; be on a website where people can fill out a form and indicate that they want your services as a lawyer; all of that is prohibited completely.

That seems pretty straight forward to me. So I was a little surprised when a viewer contacted me and suggested I check out a couple websites.

So, I did, and guess what I found: George Cushingberry, promoting his law practice on his political blog. And George Cushingberry maintaining a website for his law office, even asking people to contact him for help "with all your legal needs." 

Remember what our political scholar said about that type of activity?

DUBIN: Anything on a computer that would hold that suspended lawyer as a lawyer, or as a practicing lawyer or invite potential clients to contact that suspended lawyer would be improper.

'Michigan Chronicle' Editor Bankole Thompson says Cushingberry's apparent disregard for the rules sends the wrong message.

BANKOLE THOMPSON: Maybe I'm just an I-don't-care politician, I'll just do whatever I want. If you talk to a 15-year-old or a 9-year-old you tell them stop doing this, they would stop. We can't keep coming back to this again. It becomes very troubling. 

As usual, I invited Cushingberry to discuss the situation man-to-man.

ELRICK ON THE PHONE: Hi, this is M.L. Elrick of FOX 2 calling for George Cushingberry.

And, as usual, I ended up getting some exercise chasing after him. 

Now you may be thinking to yourself, "Those are old websites," or, "The councilman is too busy with the city's business to pull them down." That's a fair notion, but our web guru Jay Dillon found that Cushingberry's legal website was updated last December -- after the councilman was already on his first suspension.

And the political blog that lists his law practice was updated less than a week ago.

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