V.I. Supreme Court suspends former assistant AG's license for not telling court about Ohio suspension


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ST. THOMAS - A former assistant attorney general's license has been suspended by the V.I. Supreme Court.

Michael Motylinski served as an assistant attorney general for two years before resigning from the V.I. Attorney General's Office in 2011 citing reasons of unrest within the office.

Now, the V.I. Supreme Court has published an opinion in regards to a decision filed against Motylinski by the Ethics and Grievance Committee of the V.I. Bar Association. The V.I. Bar's decision stems from its investigation into the Ohio Supreme Court's six-month suspension of Motylinski in December 2012 for several instances of ethical misconduct.

The V.I. Supreme Court's ruling late last month accepted the findings of the V.I. Bar Ethics and Grievance Committee, and the high court suspended Motylinski's license as an attorney in the territory for one year and ordered that he pay a $1,000 fine and any associated court costs for the case.

Additionally, the court supported the already standing suspension by the Ohio Supreme Court. At issue in the V.I. Supreme Court's decision is that the high court found that Motylinski did not notify the court of his suspension in Ohio when he became aware of it.

Motylinski worked in Ohio prior to coming to the Virgin Islands, where he applied for a pro hac vice admission to work for the Attorney General's Office. The application was accepted in July 2009, on the condition that he solely practice for the office, according to the V.I. Supreme Court opinion.

However, later in the year, after Motylinski deactivated his license in Ohio, Motylinski worked for two months on a case that he began while employed in Ohio despite his employment with the V.I. Attorney General's Office and his inactive status in Ohio.

In February 2010, Motylinski's clients in Ohio fired Motylinski after finding out that he was illegally practicing law in Ohio, and the Ohio Supreme Court thereafter issued its own opinion on the matter. The Ohio Supreme Court's ruling made it clear that Motylinski had been in violation while working on the Ohio case after his license was no longer active.

"Motylinski did have a selfish and dishonest motive," the high court in Ohio wrote in its opinion, which was released in October 2012.

At the time, Motylinski was working for Glacial Energy LLC on St. Thomas after one of Motylinski's colleagues there, attorney Adam Gusman, filed a motion for Motylinski to be allowed to work on a case for Glacial Energy.

When the court made the allowance, it had asked Motylinski whether he ever had been disbarred or suspended - to which he answered "no." While the Ohio Supreme Court at the time had not issued its opinion yet, Motylinski did not make the effort later to inform the court of the opinion - which suspended him for six months - because of his working on the Ohio case while his bar membership no longer was active in that state.

Glacial Energy terminated Motylinski in September 2013, after which point he switched to a career in marketing and tourism.

- Contact Jenny Kane at 714-9102 or email jkane@dailynews.vi.

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