Matthew Eshelman found himself on the receiving end of a three-year suspension from the Pennsylvania Supreme Court Disciplinary board last week. The reason? Video games.The Pennsylvania attorney says a video game addiction is to blame for his sloppy legal work over the past four years that resulted in 17 complaints about mishandled cases.
Eshelman was, at one time, a highly respected attorney, but eventually he "reacted to the pressures of practice as well as the pressures of a troubled home life by retreating into a world of computer and video games," the report from the board said.
That obsession with games (no specific title was mentioned as being his focus) led to him delaying work on cases, sometimes for months, resulting in missed deadlines. Fees were also mishandled. In one case, Eshelman admits to filing false paperwork and suggesting a couple in the midst of a divorce lie to speed things up.
This wasn't the first time Eshelman has faced trouble because of games. Far from it, in fact.
He started gaming at work during the late 1990s, admitting to spending "excessive amounts of time playing computer games and started losing focus on his practice." By 2007, the problem had gotten so bad that he was fired from a different firm for playing games at his desk.
He eventually started a solo practice, but it wasn't long before trouble started again. When clients couldn't get him to answer their complaints, they took things to the disciplinary board.
Eshelman represented himself in the hearing and acknowledged his problem was preventing him from meeting his professional responsibilities. He told the board that he needed "time away from the practice of law to address and resolve his personal issues."
Originally, the board considered a five-year suspension, but reduced it to three because of Eshelman's previous standing, his candor in admitting to the ethical failings and his show of remorse.
Today, Eshelman works for a library and a tax preparation service.
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