Lehigh Valley

Supreme Court wants lawyer to explain appeal

Marc Bookman of Philadelphia didn't have convicted killer Michael Ballard's permission to file appeal.

Lawyer for convicted killer under investigation

A disciplinary board is going to investigate whether a lawyer who filed an appeal without a client's permission faces ethics violations.

Philadelphia lawyer Marc Bookman filed an appeal on behalf of convicted killer Michael Ballard, without Ballard's permission.

Ballard pleaded guilty in March 2011 to the stabbing deaths in 2010 of his ex-girlfriend, Denise Mehri; her father, Dennis Marsh; and her grandfather, Alvin Marsh at their home in Northampton. Ballard also killed neighbor Steven Zernhelt, who heard cries and came over to help.

Ballard was given four death sentences, one for each victim.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court denied to hear an appeal in November 2013.

Ballard sent a letter to the U.S. Supreme Court on June 2, saying Bookman had filed the appeal without Ballard's permission.

Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli wrote to the Supreme Court on July 8 saying there were potential ethical violations in this appeal.

The high court then directed Bookman to file a letter explaining why he filed the appeal without the client's permission.

On Monday, the Supreme Court referred the case to the Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, which will determine if an investigation or an action is appropriate.

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