Thursday, November 30, 2006

Discipline By Stipulation

by Mike Frisch

A case decided by the Idaho Supreme Court involving a lawyer who neglected a personal injury case and failed to advise the client that the case had been dismissed is interesting because the court accepted the stipulation of misconduct entered into between the Idaho State Bar and the attorney but rejected the proposed agreement as to sanction. The court found that the proposed sanction failed to give full weight to the "dramatic consequences" of the misconduct and the pattern of repeated violations. The court imposed a thirty six month month suspension with thirty months withheld.  The lawyer may apply for reinstatement after six months.  The opinion is linked here.

The case demonstrates a common sense approach to discipline by agreement in that the court retains the ultimate authority to revise the sanction but is not obligated to move the case back to square one for further proceedings. This strikes me as an approach that permits cases to move promptly and minimizes the danger that the result will not protect the public from unfit lawyers.

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