Wednesday, February 14, 2007
The North Dakota Supreme Court rejected its Disciplinary Board's proposed 18 month suspension in a case involving misappropriation of entrusted funds. The Court's majority imposed disbarment. A dissent/concurrence by Chief Justice VandeWalle favored the recommended 18 month suspension, noting a concern about proportionality in disciplinary sanctions in light of a two-year suspension imposed in a case involving two instances of false testimony under oath, which had a serious and profound effect on a litigated case.
I agree with the Chief Justice in principle but not result. The sanction for the theft of client funds is entirely appropriate. The court (and other courts including my own "home Court"-- the D.C. Court of Appeals) should be treating serious acts of dishonesty the same way it deals with misappropriation. The ultimate sanction should be imposed for both forms of attorney misconduct. (Mike Frisch)