Thursday, February 28, 2008

Painful Memories

Every lawyer of advancing years (such as myself) can look back over their career as an attorney and remember the case that most sticks in the craw. For me, the choice is easy. I spent over a decade of my life prosecuting a series of bar disciplinary and disability cases that involved a lawyer named Robert Stone. The case originated as a reciprocal matter as a result of a three-year suspension imposed by the Virginia State Board. When the D.C. Board declined to recommend reciprocal discipline, I brought charges based on both the Virginia violations and a fresh case alleging D.C. misconduct and later a proceeding alleging a basis for a disability suspension. After a remand by the D.C. Court of Appeals (which pondered the issues for five years after oral argument), a 30-day suspension was eventually imposed. The whole sad tale is told in In re Stone, 672 A.2d 1032 (D.C. 1995)(the board's mea culpa for not following my proposed approach: "In responding to [Bar Counsel's] argument, the Board took the first step down what proved to be a disastrous procedural course by agreeing with the Hearing Committee that Bar Counsel's challenge to [Stone's] present fitness to practice law was not relevant to the charges of past violations of disciplinary rules"). My reward for being right was to have to completely retry the case.

Well, it appears that the Virginia Board had finally had enough of Mr. Stone. From the state bar web page:

"On February 22, 2008, the Virginia State Bar Disciplinary Board revoked Robert Ray Stone Jr.’s license to practice law for violating Rules of Professional Conduct that govern diligence, conflict of interest, declining representation when that representation will result in a violation of the disciplinary rules, handling of client funds, and the unauthorized practice of law. Mr. Stone’s license has been administratively suspended since November 1989. He has been ineligible to practice law since that time, but he continued to represent clients in Virginia."

Let's see if it takes another decade for D.C. to impose reciprocal discipline. (Mike Frisch)

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