Lawyer Joe Neal Jr. has decided not to challenge a legal effort that stopped him from practicing law in federal court.
Instead, Neal will accept the suspension from U.S. District Judges Dudley Bowen Jr. and Randal Hall for the next two years or until his probation is completed. Neal was sentenced to three years of probation in June for three misdemeanor charges related to sexual assault accusations from a teenage baby sitter.
Neal had contested the suspension in U.S. District Court, saying he was not provided due process or a detailed basis for the judges’ action. The judges disagreed, both in court and through their June 22 order, stating that an attorney accused of rape and performing community service at a sewage treatment plant was “anathemic to the image and expectations of conduct for attorneys practicing in this court.”
To maintain fairness, they ordered an assistant U.S. attorney to prepare a list on behalf of the bar of the U.S. Southern District of Georgia detailing Neal’s questionable conduct. The document repeated the facts from the Richmond County Superior Court criminal case, which said Neal and his ex-wife, Caroline Neal, forced an 18-year-old woman to engage in sex with them after drinking wine and smoking marijuana.
The document describes Joe Neal’s conduct as “predatory” and his actions in December as “base, depraved, vile and contrary to the societal norms of decency and honor.”
Neal was scheduled for a hearing Tuesday to respond to that document, but he decided last week to accept the suspension.
If he applies for reinstatement, he must meet all the requirements for admission set out in the local rules of the court. He must also “clearly demonstrate at that time that he is a proper and deserving person to enjoy the privileges of an attorney at law authorized to practice in this court.”