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Newport Independent - Newport, AR
  • Local attorney suspended

  • Huber sanctioned for misconduct for solicitation charge
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  • A local attorney faces suspension of his license to practice law after being sanctioned for misconduct by the Arkansas Supreme Court Committee on Professional Conduct. Arkadelphia attorney Jonathan Huber has until Jan. 16 to appeal the suspension, which was made based on findings that he was involved in unethical conduct. Huber, who has also served as a Clark County Justice of the Peace, was arrested in October 2011 for soliciting prostitution. He pleaded no contest to that charge and received a $500 fine, six months of probation and had a 90-day jail sentence suspended under the condition of good behavior, mandatory counseling and submission to DNA testing. In the weeks following Huber's plea, Circuit Judges Robert McCallum and Charles Yeargan reported the misconduct to the professional conduct panel. In March, Katie Lavender, the 19-year-old woman whom Huber paid for sex, was the victim of a homicide at her Hot Springs apartment. That case has yet to be solved. In a Nov. 4 public hearing that Huber requested before the Professional Conduct committee, a seven-member panel heard testimony from six witnesses: Huber, the two Arkadelphia detectives who filed charges against him, Lavender's boyfriend and two women. Lavender's boyfriend, Blake Austin, testified about his involvement with Huber in August and September 2011, telling the panel the three had used social media to discuss sex for hire, with Huber providing the money. Pete Dixon, who at the time of Huber's arrest was an investigator for the Arkadelphia Police Department, testified that he had charged all three in the investigation. Dixon also identified "many pages" of sexually explicit Facebook screen shots he had retrieved from Lavender's account during the investigation. According to the hearing findings and order, Huber had solicited prostitution since fulfilling the court's orders stemming from the October 2011 charges, with the most recent date being March of this year. The first female to testify in the hearing asserted she received sexually explicit text messages from Huber on Feb. 26. Roy Bethell, also an APD criminal investigator at the time, attested her claims by providing copies of a paper printout of the text conversation. A second female said she met Huber through the website Plenty of Fish, an online dating service for singles. Huber is married with children. The second woman said the two arranged to meet at a Malvern motel, where Huber would rent the room and pay her for sex, on March 18. She testified that the two did engage in intercourse, but that Huber did not pay her because she left "hurriedly" after becoming "anxious." Huber testified at the hearing, "taking full responsibility for his conduct," noting he had a sexual addiction and was "trying to turn his life around from his previous sexual activities," the document states. Following the hearing, the professional conduct committee concluded that Huber's violation of a misdemeanor "reflects adversely on the lawyer's honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer in other respects." Because Huber used a false name in setting up the encounters, the panel cited an Arkansas Rule that finds it is a professional misconduct "to engage in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation." In addition to the one year suspension of his Arkansas Bar, the panel also sanctioned Huber with $6,400 in fines and court fees and an extension of his current three-year Health Monitoring Agreement with the Arkansas Judge's and Lawyer's Assistance Program for an additional five years.

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