Board: Lawyer who defended Sanford unfit to practice
Robert Slameka is a liar who is unfit to practice law in Michigan, the state Attorney Discipline Board ruled this week.
Slameka, who has a long history of being censured and disciplined, lost his law license last year after being convicted of larceny and breaking into his ex-girlfriend’s home. It was the second time his license was suspended in addition to more than a dozen reprimands and admonishments.
After the discipline board suspended Slameka’s law license May 1, 2015, he petitioned a three-member discipline board panel to get it restored.
During hearings in May 2016, the panel found he had lied several times, including blaming unpaid traffic tickets on his wife, who was dead before some of the citations were issued.
The panel also found Slameka had forged his dead mother’s signature on stock dividend checks and deposited them into his bank account.
“The loosey-goosey relationship with the truth is unacceptable for an attorney or one who wants to be one,” wrote John Urso, discipline board chairman, in the panel’s Aug. 16 report.
“Petitioner has failed to convince the panel that he has the ‘right stuff’ to be an attorney, given his inability to honor the truth,” Urso wrote.
Slameka, who has not responded to requests for comment, has been criticized for his handling of several cases, including the wrongful-murder convictions of Eddie Joe Lloyd, and 14-year-old Davontae Sanford.
Sanford told The Detoit News Slameka advised him to plead guilty to four murders he didn’t commit and to seek a bench trial.
“(He said), ‘you’re a black kid from the ghetto; these white people from the suburbs are gonna come in here and they’re gonna find you guilty,’ ” Sanford said.
Sanford said Slameka told him he was friends with the judge, and promised Sanford he’d get a light sentence. Wayne Circuit Judge Brian Sullivan gave him 37-90 years.
In the state discipline panel’s scathing eight-page report, Slameka’s ability to properly represent future clients was questioned.
Slameka did not provide the panel with requested information about his finances. “(His) failure to do so resulted in the Grievance Commissioner having to file (a) supplemental investigative report,” Urso wrote. “This almost lackadaisical attitude for his own matters does not bode well for future clients.
“If petitioner is not willing or able to protect his own interests, it can be surmised he will take even less care for the interests of others,” Urso wrote.
“Even more troubling is this same, almost fast-and-loose approach to the truth,” Urso wrote, pointing out that Slameka blamed 45 unpaid parking tickets on his wife, who was dead before 10 of the tickets were issued.
“It is not the 10 parking tickets that give this panel pause, although it is not praiseworthy, either. Rather, petitioner’s casual attitude toward the truth demonstrates a lack of good faith to be reinstated.
“Petitioner’s lack of good faith also can be seen in signing his deceased mother’s name to dividend checks. Granted, the checks were for (small) amounts, but like the parking tickets themselves, that is beside the point.
“In life there is a right way and a wrong way, a lawful way and an unlawful way. Petitioner’s choice to take the easy way, rather than the lawful way, again does not bode well for his anticipated return to the privilege of practicing law,” Urso wrote.
The report also criticized Slameka for not maintaining an office. He told the panel during a May hearing he worked out of a casino lobby, prompting panelist Paul Fischer to say, “you know, it sounds like ‘Better Call Saul.’ ”
Urso wrote in his report: “Problematic is petitioner’s seeming inability to recognize that he needs a structured environment in which to practice law; he cannot work out of his coat pocket.
“Taking into account all of petitioner’s past conduct, including the nature of the misconduct which led to the revocation or suspension, this panel cannot in good conscience recommend him to the public, the courts, and the legal profession as a person fit to be consulted by others and to represent them and otherwise act in matters of trust and confidence,” Urso wrote.
Slameka has 21 days to petition the panel’s decision. The appeal would be heard by the nine-person Attorney Discipline Board.
“Petitioner has made it abundantly clear to this panel that he has not acted in good faith, and there is no reason to believe he will suddenly do so,” Urso wrote. “If that time ever does come, some other panel will have to look at his petition very closely.
“But given that the petitioner even has trouble telling the truth, that day may never come.”