Thursday, November 16, 2006
by Mike Frisch
The Supreme Court of Arkansas recently published a decision rendered in December 2004 in a disciplinary case involving two complaints against an attorney, one filed by by Judge Susan Weber Wright of Bill Clinton-Paula Jones fame. The case raises several interesting points of disciplinary process and procedure. There is a discussion of the penalty phase of a bar proceeding and the appropriate use of mitigating and aggravating factors. Disciplinary counsel may not offer evidence of uncharged misconduct in the misconduct phase without amending the charges to give the accused attorney fair notice, although such misconduct may be considered in the sanction phase. The lawyer's claim of entitlment to mitigation under the Americans with Disabilities Act was rejected due to insufficient evidence (the diagnosis was dysthymic disorder), with the court citing cases finding the ADA inapplicable where the proven misconduct demonstates that the attorney is not qualified to practice law. Disbarment was imposed in light of the court's finding misappropriation of advanced fees.
The case is Ligon v. Price, 200 S.W. 3d 417 (Ark. 2004).