Thursday, June 21, 2007

More Aggravation And Mitigation

The Washington State Supreme Court decided a case that raises the question whether disbarment is the only possible sanction where an attorney knowingly offers false testimony under oath. The court concluded that a three year suspension was the appropriate sanction. The case involved a lawyer who had engaged in an extramarital affair with a deputy sheriff. She denied under oath in his divorce proceeding that she was aware of violent behavior on his part. According to the court, this was admittedly false--she in fact had been a victim of "intimate partner violence" at his hands. The court balanced an array of claimed mitigating and aggravating factors, including the dangers to his child caused by the testimony and the impact of the domestic violence, concluding that disbarment was too harsh a sanction to impose. A dissent would hold that there was insufficient evidence to establish that the testimony was false. The dissent was authored by Justice Sanders, the subject of a recent post on this blog. (Mike Frisch)

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