The death last year of colorful Mobile County lawyer Joseph Brunson touched off a legal fight that has included accusations that another prominent local attorney helped create a phony will.
In a little more than a month, Mobile lawyer Richard Horne has been repudiated by a jury reviewing the will; has been hit with a $159,000 civil judgment over a loan default; has filed for bankruptcy protection and, as of last week, faces an ethics complaint made to the state bar.
It is a shocking turn for a man who has been a respected member of the city's legal community for years, once serving on the bar's ethics committee. His high-profile clients over the years have included former Orange Beach Mayor Steve Russo and former Prichard Mayor Jesse Norwood.
Horne, a longtime friend of Brunson who helped the attorney get his law license back after a federal drug conviction, said the state bar's confidentiality rules prohibit him from commenting.
The bar complaint, made by the stepfather of the women who contested the will in Mobile County Probate Court, accuses Horne of perjury and accessory to forgery. He has 14 days to respond.
The will listed Judy Harold - Brunson's "companion and life-long friend" - as administrator and sole beneficiary of his estate. Horne and Pauline Phillips, who worked for the company that owned the building that housed Horne's law practice, were listed as witnesses. Horne's secretary, Megan Graham, notarized the document.
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Allegations of Faked Will, Crumbling Finances
Dog Prominent Mobile lawyer