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He’s baaaack! Former celebrity divorce lawyer Marvin Mitchelson on Monday won the right to practice law again after a seven-year absence, thanks to a sympathetic judge who found that the once-world-famous attorney has paid for the sins of his past. “The court finds that [Mitchelson] has changed and finds that his remorse is genuine,” State Bar Court Judge Eugene Brott wrote in a seven-page opinion. “He is neither a danger to the public or the legal profession.” Once the darling of Hollywood, with clients such as Joan Collins and Robert De Niro, Mitchelson was suspended on May 3, 1993, soon after being convicted of tax evasion. He subsequently served two years in federal prisons in Texas and California, and was ordered to repay the government $2.25 million in taxes. Mitchelson soared to fame in 1976 after winning Marvin v. Marvin, 18 Cal.3d 660, the California Supreme Court’s landmark “palimony” ruling that gave unmarried partners authority to assert contractual claims at the end of a live-in relationship. He quickly adopted a high-roller lifestyle that, by his own admission, turned him into an arrogant publicity seeker who blamed his legal travails on everyone but himself. Reached Monday at the office of his Los Angeles lawyers, Margolis & Margolis partners Arthur and Susan Margolis, Mitchelson said he was grateful “and trying to remain humble. That’s the lesson I’ve learned.” The 72-year-old, who was first admitted to the State Bar in 1957, said he will try “to be a credit to my profession” and vowed to “represent anyone who wants my services, celebrities or no celebrities.” He credited his lawyers with his victory and said he would strive to avoid the pitfalls of his past. “I’m going to be very careful in my business affairs,” he said, “and try to look at everything twice and not make the mistakes I made the last time.” During a four-day reinstatement hearing last month in L.A., Mitchelson expressed deep remorse at his past actions and said he had been humbled by prison, financial woes and a series of severe health setbacks, including heart troubles and cancer surgery. Brott, who’s based in San Francisco, said he believed Mitchelson’s troubles had truly changed him. The judge pointed out that even lawyers who had opposed Mitchelson in court in the past described him as now “mature, calm, humble, contrite, low-key and remorseful — a beaten man.” Brott also was impressed by the testimony of Jack D’uva, a former fellow inmate with Mitchelson at Lompoc federal prison. D’uva, an advertising executive who’s now studying law at Mitchelson’s urging, said on the witness stand that Mitchelson was an inspiration to other prisoners and helped many prepare their legal appeals. “In their dark existence, he was a shining light; he was everyone’s best friend,” Brott wrote. “People gravitated towards him — and he motivated them. “There is testimony,” he wrote, “that other lawyers and judges confined in the same prison were not nearly so supportive, in attitude or deed, of their fellow inmates.” Being remorseful wasn’t enough to get Mitchelson back into the practice of law, though. He also had to prove in court that he was rehabilitated, was morally fit to practice again and had kept himself current on legal issues. Brott said Mitchelson passed all three tests with flying colors, proving by a “preponderance of the evidence” that he was fit to practice. He also dismissed allegations by State Bar prosecutors that Mitchelson didn’t deserve reinstatement because he had failed to pay off any of his tax debt and allegedly had practiced law illegally while on suspension. “[Mitchelson] has had a long and distinguished career in the law,” Brott wrote. “His full reinstatement, in view of his rehabilitation, would be a benefit to both the public and the profession.” Brott’s ruling is final, unless it is appealed to the State Bar’s appellate review panel. L.A.-based State Bar prosecutors Kevin Taylor and Kristin Ritsema, who handled the case against Mitchelson, couldn’t be reached for comment Monday. The case is In the Matter of Marvin M. Mitchelson, 00-V-10119.

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