November 10, 2007
How Reciprocal Discipline Is Supposed To Work
In contrast to yesterday's jeremiad against a D. C. Board on Professional Responsibility report comes a reciprocal case from West Virginia based on an indefinite suspension imposed in Maryland. Maryland had found escrow violations but imposed indefinite suspension rather than disbarment. The West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals rejects the sanctioned lawyer's attempt to retry the underlying facts. Further, the court rejected the contentions that identical discipline would result in grave injustice or that there were due process violations in the Maryland proceedings.
This is how reciprocal discipline is supposed to work-- there is no indication here that West Virginia authorities think they know more than Maryland about a matter tried in the Maryland bar disciplinary system. Further, there is no indication that West Virginia wants a lawyer found to have engaged in serious misconduct to relocate to West Virginia on terms more lenient than imposed in Maryland. It's all about public protection, which is the reason that bar discipline is supposed to exist. (Mike Frisch)
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