Thursday, March 29, 2007

Why We Discipline

The D.C. Court of Appeals rejected its Board on Professional Responsibility's lenient recommendation for a public censure where an attorney had engaged in dishonesty while representing himself in settlement negotiations with an insurance company. The attorney sought lost income based on his hourly billing rate. The insurance company inquired of his firm and learned that he had suffered no lost income as a result of his injury. The lawyer then made false statements to his firm, which promptly discharged him. He repeated the falsehoods at the disciplinary hearing. The court rejected the claim that "dishonesty" is too vague a term for lawyers to understand. As to sanction, the court suspended the lawyer for 30 days, finding that the Board "undervalue[d] other opinions" that "the principal reason for discipline is to preserve the confidence of the public in the integrity and trustworthiness of lawyers in general." Funny how the entity charged with upholding the integrity of the legal profession in D.C. overlooked the reason it is supposed to exist.  (Mike Frisch)

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