Saturday, June 23, 2007

Probation Rather Than Suspension

A junior attorney in California accepted a death penalty case at the urging of a partner in his firm. He had no prior experience in death penalty litigation. He left the firm but kept the case. Over a period of several years, he performed a significant amount of work but never was able to file an opening brief. A bar disciplinary case was brought that has resulted in a recommendation that he receive probation with conditions rather than an actual suspension. The ethical violations involved failure to perform competent services and failure to report that he had been subject to judicial sanctions. The Review Department of the State Bar Court rejected the contention that the lawyer's 17 years of an otherwise unblemished career should not be counted as mitigation. The review department concluded that actual suspension was not appropriate because the attorney was in over his head after taking the assignment at the partner's urging. Rather than a case of moral turpitude, the case involved "ineptitude or lethargy, or both." (Mike Frisch)

Bar Discipline & Process | Permalink

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