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State justices revoke ‘light hero’ attorney’s license

A Milwaukee attorney faces a permanent revocation of his license unless he repays thousands of dollars to clients who sought to keep their utilities from being disconnected.

Emory Booker III, who promoted himself as the “light hero” in advertisements to financially distressed clients, often filed error-riddled paperwork on his clients’ behalf and misled some on the scope of representation being provided, according to a state Supreme Court opinion released Friday.

The justices opted to revoke Booker’s license to practice law as a result. Should he eventually petition for reinstatement, he will first have to prove he reimbursed any unearned fees to each client mentioned in the Office of Lawyer Regulation’s amended complaint, according to the court order.

According to the ruling, Booker often filed faulty Chapter 128 petitions, even ghostwriting many petitions as pro se applications while failing to explain the limited nature of his representation to clients or the court.

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Then, after a 2011 Milwaukee County Circuit Court ruling all but ended Chapter 128 petitions for the purpose of staying utility disconnection for nonpayment, Booker changed the focus of his practice to filings in federal bankruptcy court. The OLR’s amended complaint alleged that between April 2012 and June 2012, the Eastern District bankruptcy court received more than 140 petitions from a 1st Choice Bankruptcy Preparation in Indiana, but that Booker actually prepared the documents and received a fee for his referral, despite not being listed as attorney of record.

Booker did not explain the limited nature of his representation to clients, often failed to review the debtors’ suitability for bankruptcy, provided inaccurate information to his clients and submitted error-ridden or incomplete applications to the court while charging exorbitant fees, according to the complaint.

“The undisputed facts show a clear pattern of neglect by Attorney Booker of his clients’ needs and objectives,” the justices wrote. “[This] is especially troubling given that most of Attorney Booker’s clients were in serious financial distress and thus were in a particularly vulnerable position.”

The decision to revoke his license comes after Wisconsin in 2013 obtained an order and judgment against Booker, requiring him to pay $36,768 in damages for fees he collected in bankruptcy cases in violation of the Federal Bankruptcy Code.

Though a later amended OLR complaint sought additional payment of $2,900 in restitution, to be divided among 10 former clients, Friday’s ruling found this request overlapped with the prior 2013 restitution order. As a result, the justices declined to make a further order of restitution but instead required Booker to reimburse any unearned fees to each client mentioned in the amended complaint, and provide the court with a written accounting of such reimbursements in order to be reinstated to practice law.

Booker received his law degree from the University of Wisconsin Law School in 2000. He did not immediately return a call for comment.


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