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Pennsylvania Lawyer Suspended, Blames Video-Game Addiction

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PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A Pennsylvania lawyer blamed an addiction to video games for the sloppy legal work that’s cost him a three-year suspension.

Mathew Eshelman, 43, retreated into the world of video games to fight job stress and problems at home, a state disciplinary panel concluded.

The habit got the Carlisle lawyer fired from a firm in 2007, but little changed when he set up a solo practice.

“When attempting to conduct his own law practice, he sought refuge from his problems by playing video and computer games with an even greater intensity. He described himself as ‘addicted’ to the games,” lawyer Howell K. Rosenberg wrote in the 89-page report.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court Disciplinary Board’s report detailed 17 cases that Eshelman mishandled. They mostly involved bankruptcy, divorce and debt collection cases. He missed deadlines, lost track of client funds and once knowingly lied in a divorce filing—all while ignoring calls from increasingly angry clients.

They started filing complaints to the disciplinary board in or about 2007. Eshelman testified before the panel and conceded that he needed time away from work to rebuild his personal life. A hearing committee recommended a five-year suspension.

But because he had once been a competent lawyer, the disciplinary board ultimately agreed to a three-year ban.

The Legal Intelligencer first reported Friday on the opinion issued this week.

Eshelman did not immediately return a call for comment from The Associated Press.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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