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Minnesota high court suspends controversial head shop attorney

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The Minnesota Supreme Court has suspended a controversial Minnesota attorney who was most recently in the news for his defense of Duluth head shop owner Jim Carlson, convicted of selling synthetic drugs.

The Associated Press reported that Randall Tigue, 65, was suspended from practicing law for 30 days for trust account violations. According to the Northland's News Center, a referee found that Tigue failed to maintain trust account books. The referee recommended a reprimand and supervised probation. The director of the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility argued that Tigue should be suspended for at least 90 days.

The state Supreme Court said that while there was no intent by Tigue to deceive his clients, his misconduct was still serious. The suspension begins March 24.

A 2007 profile of Tigue in the Star Tribune referred to the Golden Valley lawyer as "the go-to attorney for Minnesota's adult entertainment industry for three decades." The story said Tigue had garnered both scorn and admiration for his advocacy of free speech in fights over community morals. The story described his customers as "bar owners enticing customers with skin. Small-town strippers. Dirty-magazine merchants. Porn kings."

The story also detailed Tigue's earlier legal troubles. He was under indictment for 19 months on charges that he helped a client hide earnings from the Internal Revenue Service. Acquitted in 1990, Tigue went bankrupt defending himself. In 2007, Tigue was reprimanded and placed on two years probation for failing to maintain his trust account books and issuing checks to himself for amounts greater than the funds that were available for disbursement.

Tigue told the Duluth News Tribune the suspension is an "annoyance," but nothing he can't overcome. “It’s going to disrupt things, but not too much,” Tigue told the paper about an hour after the order was issued.

The suspension could interfere with the sentencing for Carlson, convicted in October on 51 federal crimes. Tigue said a probation officer recently notified him that Carlson’s presentence investigation should be complete by March 31, so a sentencing date probably will be set soon thereafter. Tigue said another attorney in his office can handle his caseload for a month, and four other defense attorneys are representing Carlson’s girlfriend and son in the case.

Tigue will spend two years on supervised probation once the suspension is over.

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