Attorney accused of unlawful trading
by Geoff Folsom
gfolsom@mdjonline.com
April 28, 2012 12:02 AM | 9689 views | 8 8 comments | 18 18 recommendations | email to a friend | print
MARIETTA — An attorney was in the Cobb jail Friday, the very place he is accused of trading drugs and legal services for sexual favors from inmates.

Michael Stuart Winner, 45, was arrested around 3 p.m. Thursday while leaving his Sandy Springs home, Cobb County Sheriff Neil Warren said. He is charged with four counts of conspiracy to commit crime, three counts of unlawful trading with inmates, and one count each of a violation of the Georgia Controlled Substances Act and “use of communications facilities to violate provisions prohibited,” all felonies.

Winner was being held Friday on $10,000 bond at the Cobb County Adult Detention Center.

Winner provided female inmates at the jail with prescription drugs and legal help in exchange for the women lifting up their tops to expose their breasts, which Winner would watch from the other side of a glass partition, Warren said. He said the inmates also promised Winner sex when they were released from jail.

Warren said the number of inmates that Winner made these exchanges with was still under investigation. While he said it was more than one, it was not widespread.

“It’s very unfortunate, and it’s an isolated incident,” Warren said.

The investigation into Winner’s activities went on for a little over two weeks, Warren said. The Cobb Sheriff’s Office Fugitive Unit, Marietta Cobb Smyrna Narcotics Unit and Sandy Springs Police Criminal Investigations Unit all participated in the arrest.

“It’s my job to ensure safety and security for the facility,” Warren said. “I’m not going to tolerate any issues of anyone bringing in contraband.”

Winner’s legal activities have come under question in the past.

On June 9, 2010, the Georgia Supreme Court suspended Winner from practicing law in the state after he failed to adequately respond to a state bar association investigation. According to court documents, the suspension was lifted on July 20, 2010, once he properly responded.

Documents show that Winner was being investigated for violations of Georgia Rules of Professional Conduct rules 3.1 and 8.4. If proven, the violations could have led to his disbarment.

The bar association did not respond to requests for information on the results of the investigation. According to the bar’s website, Rule 3.1 prohibits attorneys from taking legal action when the action’s only purpose is to harass or maliciously injure someone or to knowingly advance a claim that is unwarranted under existing law.

While violations of Rule 3.1 could only result in a reprimand, violations of Rule 8.4 could result in disbarment. Among the acts prohibited by Rule 8.4 are lawyers that have been convicted of a felony or engaging in conduct that involves dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation.

Warren said he wasn’t familiar with past investigations of Winner’s conduct. Since he started with the sheriff’s office in 1977, Warren can’t recall an incident of an attorney bringing contraband into the jail.

“The vast majority of attorneys in Cobb County are very honest,” he said. “They all have taken their oath of office very seriously. It really bothers me when something like this happens.”

Calls to a phone number listed for Winner’s law practice Friday were greeted with a message saying, “The wireless customer you have called is not available at this time.”
Comments
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Defense Attorney
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May 01, 2012
It is EXTREMELY easy to be arrested in Cobb County, or any county in which the rights of the accused are regularly trampled upon by law enforcement. Attorney's who zealously defend the constitutional rights of their clients become fast targets of a police force whose motto "to protect and to serve" should arguably be followed by "the financial interests of their employer." Yes, this makes for a good headline, but if and when the truth comes out, I wouldn't be at all surprised if this is an effort by Cobb County Law Enforcement to cover up egregious acts against the citizens of Cobb County by pro-actively defaming a zealous defender of those very rights.
JenniferC06
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May 01, 2012
Anoymous, can't take much credence in your comment because you're too chicken to own up to it. Therefore, it's obvious you would be comfortable with a system where people are not held accountable for their misdeeds -- an anarchy society. And you're probably one of those lawyers who run the Georgia Bar and thinks it's o'kay what Winner (ha!) did; that's why the organization is as it is. Don't respond to me anymore; you're an idiot.
anonymous
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April 29, 2012
JenniferC06, there is a good chance that he will be disbarred. But they can't do it until he has been charged with a crime (which has happened) and find guilty (which has not). Give it time, dear. Otherwise China and Russia are making pre-judgments of their citizens all the time ---you might be more comfortable there.
Accused
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April 28, 2012
So Warren thinks Cobb's attorneys are very honest. I doubt that but can say that in Cherokee County I have run across some attorneys that will not lie but ask their clients to lie. They like to give the advice at a time when it would be difficult to argue or respond with an authoritize no. To me this makes the attorney dishonest. I believe that would be considered perjury or get their client in more trouble. So they either when the case on a lie or they end up having to defend their client in a perjury charge. I hate lawyers.
tired ofit
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April 28, 2012
So true, there are several lawyers in Marietta that seem to get by with stuff in the court system. If people only knew.
truth hurts
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April 28, 2012
attorney = politicians
JenniferC06
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April 28, 2012
Why doesn't the State Bar disbar someone like this. Why is it so hard to get unethical lawyers disbarred. And it seems that they keep practicing law anyway, even if they're hiding behind someone else -- using someone else's law firm and letting that firm sign documents and go to court but the disbarred lawyer actually still is practicing and getting paid. There are examples of this right in Marietta. The State Bar needs to do a better job of protecting the public.
Thomas J. Palmer
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April 29, 2012
@JenniferC06: Answering your concern, could it be the culture surrounding the legal profession? In my experiences, the Bar Associations tend to protect their fellow attorneys. Same may hold true for the medical profession as well. Ask one doc for a referral and rarely would you hear "don't let that guy near you with a scalpel." There are thousand of lawyers and thousands of jokes about lawyers and even thousands of more lawyers who are jokes. Just because they are suppose to be "officers of the courts" doesn't translate that everything they do is ethical.
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