From Iceland — Ex-Con Lawyer Withdraws Request For Trial Practice Rights

Ex-Con Lawyer Withdraws Request For Trial Practice Rights

Published February 1, 2016

Andie Sophia Fontaine
Photo by
Art Bicnick

A lawyer newly released from prison after serving time for murder has withdrawn his request to be able to practice trial law again.

Vísir reports that Atli Helgason, who was recently released from prison after serving 15 years for murder, will no longer be seeking the right to practice law as a trial lawyer. Atli’s decision was based on “believing that his right to work as a lawyer is worth less than the suffering of the relatives [of the deceased] that reporting on the case has caused”.

As reported, Atli Helgason was found guilty of homicide 15 years ago and was sentenced to 16 years in prison. The case was high-profile, given the nature of the crime, which included Atli taking part in the search for the victim, Einar Örn Birgisson. The search party also included members of Einar’s own family.

Atli was released in 2010, and has since been working to have his professional reputation restored (Icel. “uppreist æru”). A professional reputation, in this context, has more of a legal meaning than a literal one. Having a clean professional reputation is a requirement for some types of public office, and for being a trial lawyer, to name two examples.

Legal expert Hulda María Stefánsdóttir explained that one can have their professional reputation restored, even for serious crimes such as Atli’s, provided they fulfill certain requirements. If, for example, one is released from prison and waits five years before filing the request, their professional reputation is automatically restored.

The proceedings wherein he was to argue why his trial lawyer rights should be renewed were to take place today.

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