EPHRATA – A criminal defense attorney whose cases in Grant County included homicides and violent assaults resigned after findings of alleged misconduct by the Washington State Bar Association.
John Crowley submitted a “resignation in lieu of discipline,” effective Sept. 18. He is no longer allowed to practice in any jurisdiction where he is licensed, which includes state and federal courts, and is not allowed to be readmitted to the state bar.
In a letter to the bar association Office of Disciplinary Counsel, Crowley wrote rather than defend against the allegations, he wished to permanently resign from the bar. Crowley was admitted to the bar in 1990.
Documents provided to iFIBER One News show Crowley was facing 20 counts of misconduct from five cases, including a 2011 case in Grant County. The other cases were in Kittitas, Island, Pierce and King counties, and federal court in Idaho.
In Grant County, Crowley was hired by Miguel Barragan, who was convicted of two counts of child rape and assault in the first degree. In July 2011, Barragan called Crowley and spoke with him about the case. The same month, Barragan hired Crowley to file a personal restraint petition, paying Crowley $10,000.
Documents show Crowley did not enter into a written fee agreement with his client and “some or all” of the $10,000 was paid in advance. Crowley reportedly never deposited those funds into a trust account required of lawyers.
During the time he represented Barragan, Crowley met with him twice in person and spoke with him twice over the phone.
“Barragan and members of his family repeatedly telephoned (Crowley) and left messages for him to return calls,” state bar records show. “(Crowley) did not return the telephone calls or otherwise communicate with Barragan and/or his family about the case.”
The disciplinary council also says Crowley never filed a personal restraint petition and did not refund fees paid by Barragan that “he never earned or incurred.”
In the other four cases allegedly involving acts of misconduct, the disciplinary counsel says Crowley took money from new clients but never filed necessary paperwork in their cases, ignored phone calls, emails and text messages from the clients and other attorneys and reportedly lied about his actions.
In one case, Crowley received $23,500 to represent a client facing drug and firearm charges but “did little or no work,” and asked other attorneys to stand in for him in court.
Crowley, who has offices in both Seattle and Yakima, has been a familiar figure in Grant County court, recently representing Jason Williams, who was convicted of murder in the second degree and three counts of assault in the first degree in 2016 in the killing of a 22-year-old man in the Jack in the Box drive-thru in Moses Lake.
Crowley also represented Benjamin Lopez Jr., who was sentenced to more than 15 years in prison in connection to the death of a man in Quincy in 2011.
The phone numbers for both his offices have been disconnected, although his website can still be found online.
Grant County Prosecutor Garth Dano said he does not anticipate Crowley's resignation to have any effect on any recent cases where Crowley served as the defense attorney, including the Williams case. Crowley appears to have one active case in Grant County.