LGBT attorney disbarred in Pennsylvania

LGBT attorney disbarred in Pennsylvania

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The Pennsylvania Supreme Court this week ordered the disbarment of Robert P. Tuerk, a local LGBT advocate who previously was disbarred as an attorney in Florida.

Tuerk was the first out candidate to seek a judgeship on Philadelphia Traffic Court. He also was a member of Gay and Lesbian Lawyers of Philadelphia and served on the Police Liaison Committee.

But for several years, Tuerk faced difficulties relating to his law license, stemming from a 1985 arrest for an LGBT-related morals charge in Philadelphia.

Tuerk never has been convicted of a crime anywhere, and his 1985 charges subsequently were expunged. But 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 the arrest.

In March 2016, Tuerk's license to practice law in Florida was suspended due to the Pennsylvania suspension. But Tuerk's problems were compounded when he allegedly failed to timely file a sworn affidavit relating to his Florida suspension.

In legal documents, Tuerk maintained he filed the affidavit as soon as he realized he was required to do so. But in July 2017, the Florida Supreme Court disbarred Tuerk in the Sunshine State.

Despite his disbarment in Florida, Tuerk sought reinstatement in Pennsylvania but those hopes were dashed by the Feb. 12 disbarment order.

The Pennsylvania Office of Disciplinary Counsel opposed Tuerk's bid for reinstatement, citing his alleged failure to file necessary tax documents; his alleged advertisements on LinkedIn while suspended; and his alleged "depressed state of mind."

Tuerk's 230-page petition for reinstatement in Pennsylvania stated in part: "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 confirmed that he recently completed 36 hours of legal-education classes, with at least 12 hours devoted to the area of ethics.

According to legal documents, "[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 nonprofit. To disbar him would be ruinous to his life and detrimental to society."

Tuerk could not be reached for comment.

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