Robert P. Tuerk, an openly gay attorney, seeks reinstatement to practice law in Pennsylvania but faces an uphill battle because of his recent disbarment in Florida.
In October 2015, Tuerk’s law license was suspended in Pennsylvania for a year and a day, after he failed to inform federal-court officials of a 1985 arrest on an LGBT-related morals charge. Tuerk’s law license also was suspended in Florida due to the oversight. But his problems were compounded when he allegedly failed to file a timely affidavit relating to his Florida suspension.
In legal documents, Tuerk maintains he filed the affidavit as soon as he realized he was required to do so.
But in July, the Florida Supreme Court disbarred Tuerk, after bar officials claimed Tuerk should have filed the affidavit sooner. They noted that Tuerk signed for a certified letter notifying him of the requirement in July 2016.
Citing the lack of a hearing, Tuerk is appealing his Florida disbarment. Meanwhile, his request for reinstatement in Pennsylvania remains pending.
Tuerk, 54, is a longtime advocate for the LGBT community. Prior to his suspension, he was a member of Gay and Lesbian Lawyers of Philadelphia and the Police Liaison Committee. Additionally, he provided pro-bono legal assistance for numerous people.
Tuerk was never convicted of a crime anywhere, according to court records.
Tuerk’s 230-page petition for reinstatement in Pennsylvania states: “I have accepted the error of my ways that have caused my suspension and I take full responsibility for the same. I look forward to being reinstated so that I may continue to excel in the legal field, and to continue to assist the under-represented. I’m also interested in getting involved in the area of ethics.”
Tuerk’s petition also confirms that he recently completed 36 hours of legal-education classes, with at least 12 hours devoted to the area of ethics.
A recent document filed in Florida on behalf of Tuerk states: “[Tuerk] supports his community through volunteer activities such as landscaping for a historic church, delivering meals to the sick and performing paralegal work for an innocence non-profit. To disbar him would be ruinous to his life and detrimental to society.”
Neither side had a comment for this story.