Originally created 09/18/02

State justices disbar attorney



SAVANNAH, Ga. - A prominent south Georgia attorney was disbarred Monday, nearly a year after he pleaded guilty to charges of offering a client reduced legal fees in exchange for sex.

All seven justices of the Georgia Supreme Court agreed that Martin Jackel violated the state rules of professional conduct for lawyers, committing "illegal acts as an attorney in a predatory nature against a client."

Mr. Jackel is a former Chatham County commissioner.

In October, Mr. Jackel pleaded guilty to one count each of sexual battery and solicitation of oral sex stemming from two May 2001 visits to his office by a female client. Mr. Jackel admitted fondling the woman's breasts, exposing himself and offering to lower his legal fees in return for sexual favors.

Had the case gone to trial, prosecutors said they were prepared to bring to the stand nine other women alleging similar conduct.

The disbarment could bring to a close Mr. Jackel's 34-year law career in Georgia and affect his ability to practice elsewhere. Under state regulations, Mr. Jackel must immediately cease work and notify all of his clients within 30 days.

Mr. Jackel's attorney, Abda L. Quillian, said Monday she would file a request asking the court to reconsider the matter.

Mr. Jackel did not return calls Monday. His wife, Stephanie, declined comment on his behalf.

William Smith III, the general counsel for the Georgia State Bar, said he took no satisfaction in the court's ruling, which represents the culmination of disciplinary proceedings launched by his organization in November.

"I'm never happy when a lawyer gets disbarred," Mr. Smith said. "We strive to encourage professional conduct, and it disappoints us when that doesn't happen."