A Nigerian man who for three years acted as an attorney in criminal and civil courts in Michigan has been disbarred from practicing law, even though he never had a state license, according to the Detroit Free Press.
Gbenga Anjorin, a 1992 graduate of a law school in Nigeria, was able to parlay a limited license for foreign lawyers that only allowed him to advise clients on Nigerian law into an apparently thriving practice in the Detroit area, the newspaper reported.
The court assigned him dozens of cases and paid him thousands of dollars. And he represented hundreds of people accused of drunken driving offenses. But it was a civil matter over five crates of kola nuts in 2009 that led to his undoing, according the newspaper.
Stephanie Marino Anderson, the opposing attorney in the nut case, complained to the state about some questionable documents Anjorin had filed to support his claim about a ruined load of nuts, according to the Free Press.
Anjorin, a grievance commission subsequently found, wasn’t licensed to practice law in Michigan. He has been charged with violating his limited license.
Anjorin told the Free Press on Monday he is appealing his disbarment. He declined further comment.
Meanwhile, the courts in which Anjorin handled cases have been left with what Presiding Judge Timothy Kenny of Wayne County Circuit Court's criminal division called a "Nigerian nightmare." Defendants that Anjorin represented were being contacted to decide whether to change pleas in their cases.
Five of six clients who are now in prison, it turns out, plan to stick with their plea deals made with Anjorin as their attorney, Kenny said.
“That’s not too shabby. I’ve gone up against attorneys who I swear had their secretaries change the names of the parties on old pleadings, and they just re-signed it—usually without bothering to find out if the law relied upon is still good,” one person on the American Bar Association Journal website wrote.
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