A former Plaquemines Parish judge who was stripped of his law license following his 2009 conviction on allegations that he pocketed more than $6,000 in public money can work as a lawyer again, the state Supreme Court has decided.
William Roe, 63, "has demonstrated that he recognizes the wrongfulness and seriousness of the misconduct for which he was disbarred," the high court said in a ruling issued Friday. He "has also shown that he possesses the requisite competence, honesty and integrity to be readmitted to the practice of law."
The ruling allowing Roe to revive his legal career comes nearly 18 months after he applied for reinstatement as an attorney.
Reached by telephone Friday, he said he was "very happy that the court is open to the idea of someone getting a second chance to practice after having made a mistake."
Admitted to the state bar in 1980, Roe later spent 18 years on the bench of the 25th Judicial District Court in Plaquemines. He declined to run for re-election in 2008 after a legislative audit linked him to questionable spending.
Roe was accused of getting the state to reimburse him for $6,851 in expenses incurred at three annual legal seminars in Sandestin, Florida, even though the trips had been paid for by the Plaquemines court.
The state Attorney General's Office charged Roe with felony theft. Retired Orleans Parish Judge Jerome Winsberg instead found him guilty of misdemeanor counts of unauthorized use of movables in September 2009.
After exhausting his appeals in the criminal case, Roe spent 43 days in jail beginning Dec. 20, 2011. He then went on probation and was ordered to complete 240 hours of community service, records show.
By then, the state Supreme Court had temporarily suspended him from practicing law. Shortly after he completed his jail sentence, Roe agreed with the decision to disbar him.
He applied to get his law license back in August 2016. The state Attorney Disciplinary Board recommended his reinstatement, and the judiciary's enforcement arm, the Office of Disciplinary Counsel, did not oppose it.
Roe said he sought reinstatement because he has encountered a number of people who had legal problems that he would have liked to help resolve for no fee.
He said he wasn't interested in a full-time return to a legal practice as much as having the authority to assist in certain situations, such as with single or divorced parents facing child support or custody issues.
"I wouldn't be opposed to being retained on occasion, but I just want to be able to help someone pro bono when I can," said Roe, who said he kept up with continuing legal education courses while he was disbarred.
Roe is now a New Orleans resident.