FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 14, 2010
Contact: Rick DeBruhl, Chief Communications Officer
Phone: (602) 340-7335, Mobile: (602) 513-6385
Suspension Recommended for Attorney Who Was Alleged to Have Channeled the Dead
PHOENIX - The Disciplinary Commission of the Supreme Court of Arizona has recommended that Charna R. Johnson be suspended from the practice of law for one year and ordered to serve two years of probation upon reinstatement.
The State Bar of Arizona initiated an investigation after finding probable cause that Johnson had lied under oath in a disciplinary hearing, claimed to communicate with the dead, and had sexual contact with a client.
Johnson's initial disciplinary hearing was a result of an investigation by the State Bar, following a complaint made by her client's soon to be ex-husband. Johnson represented her client in a divorce proceeding and drafted a will, leaving all the assets for herself.
At a hearing on the agreement for discipline the client's ex-husband testified that he believed that Johnson was exercising undue influence upon her clients by purporting to channel the thoughts of their loved ones. During the hearing, Johnson was specifically asked if she "channeled" deceased persons and she responded "no." At that time, the State Bar did not have direct evidence related to this issue and therefore recommended that the Agreement for Discipline by Consent for Censure and Probation be accepted.
After that case was final, another client came forward alleging that Johnson had also claimed to channel his deceased wife who committed suicide. Johnson represented the husband in a probate matter involving his deceased wife's estate. Johnson's client claimed that she began to communicate his ex-wife's thoughts to him and initiated ongoing communication with him as his wife. He also claimed that he and Johnson engaged in sexual conduct.
Johnson's unusual practices led to the State Bar's investigation, which found that she had violated numerous provisions of the Rules of Professional Conduct which included: making a false statement to a tribunal, failing to take reasonable remedial measures to correct false information, knowingly making a false statement of material fact in a disciplinary matter, engaging in conduct involving dishonesty and misrepresentation, and engaging in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice.
If the Supreme Court of Arizona upholds the Disciplinary Commission's recommendation to suspend Johnson, she will not be allowed to practice law for one year. Should she be reinstated, she shall be subject to a two-year probation period with an evaluation by the Member Assistance Program (MAP) Director and must comply with all directives by them.
Johnson shall pay all costs and expenses incurred in this matter by the State Bar of Arizona, the Disciplinary Commission, the Supreme Court, and the Disciplinary Clerk's Office.
About the State Bar
The State Bar of Arizona is a non-profit organization that operates under the supervision of the Arizona Supreme Court. The Bar includes approximately 16,000 active attorneys and provides education and development programs for the legal profession and the public. Since 1933 the Bar and its members have been committed to serving the public by making sure the voices of all people in Arizona are heard in our justice system.
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