Monday, October 29, 2007

Reinventing The Wheel

A D.C. hearing committee recently issued a report (which I assume was posted on the D.C. Bar's web page in error as it may be found in the listing of Board reports) that takes 38 pages of careful analysis to reach the result advocated by Bar Counsel as a disposition without any hearing. The lawyer had been suspended for six months in New York for a misdemeanor insurance fraud conviction. New Jersey and Florida promptly imposed reciprocal discipline. The lawyer has long since been reinstated in New York, New Jersey and Florida. In the District of Columbia, this would be far too efficient.

The D.C. Board ordered a full hearing into whether the offense involved moral turpitude, which would require disbarment under a provision of the D.C. Code. Bar Counsel did not charge moral turpitude and the hearing committee did not find it. The committee complains that its "ability to explore the underlying facts...was constrained by the limited record developed by the parties at the hearing." Well, the conduct took place in New York in 2001 and New York held a full hearing. What new evidence did the committee expect Bar Counsel to uncover six years after the fact?

The lawyer has already been suspended on an interim basis in D.C. for over 18 months and the matter must still be reviewed by the D.C. Board and Court of Appeals. (Mike Frisch)

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