Wednesday, February 20, 2008

"Undiagnosed Lack Of Impulse Control"

An attorney was disbarred on consent last week by the District of Columbia Court of Appeals. The rest of the story, as Paul Harvey might say, is in this week's Legal Times. According to the article, the attorney was formerly a staff attorney at Covington & Burling. She was twice convicted of stealing antiques, on one occasion "using a patio chair to smash the glass panes of the door" and load into a car "about $5,000 worth of vases, figurines and jewelry."  Another case involved the theft of an "art deco metal ashtray lamp and a Nippon hand-painted china teapot" that were found listed for sale on Ebay. The attorney is quoted as stating that the conduct involved "compulsive shoplifting" caused by "an undiagnosed lack of impulse control" for which she is presently being treated.

There was a proceeding before the Board on Professional Responsibility to determine if the convictions involved moral turpitude that was mooted by the consent to disbarment. Perhaps the most interesting similar case (from a procedural standpoint) that I handled at Bar Counsel involved Ruthann Aron, convicted of a Maryland common law misdemeanor relating to her attempt to arrange a contract murder of her husband and a lawyer. We had litigated the issue of moral turpitude and argued it to the D.C. Court of Appeals when her consent to disbarment rendered the issue moot.

Thanks to a loyal reader for passing this item along. (Mike Frisch)

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