March 26, 2008
Severity Of Misconduct Militates Against Reinstatement
The Oklahoma Supreme Court denied a petition for reinstatement notwithstanding the significant period of time sence disbarment, evidence of good character and the absence of unauthorized practice during the period of disbarment. The strongest factor against reinstatement was the underlying offense itself:
"The offense committed by Hird - that of bank fraud and money laundering - was not only a serious crime but also one of significant consequence. The PRT panel reported it could find no lawyer disciplinary or reinstatement case that dealt with an amount of money as sizeable as that here. The loss to Caprock depositors and the general public whose taxes subsidized the government-insured losses to the savings and loan institution amounted to perhaps a hundred million dollars. Petitioner's acts directly and indirectly caused financial harm to many individuals. Moreover, in his position as general counsel for Caprock, Hird failed to uphold the ethical duties the Bar imposes on its members. His misconduct hence reflects directly and adversely upon the legal profession. While Hird's testimony and that of the witnesses given on his behalf reveal that petitioner recognizes the wrongfulness of his conduct, the PRT believes that there was a lack of proof concerning the impact his misconduct brought upon the legal profession."
Are there some offenses that are so severe that reinstatement should be off the table as a practical matter? Perhaps so if the conduct can fairly be characterized as causing the most severe financial harm in the history of the particular state bar. (Mike Frisch)
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There certainly are some offenses that are so severe that reinstatement should be out of the question. Bank fraud and money laundering causing 100 million dollars in losses are two such offenses. Harsh result but really the only result. Willie Sutton wouldn't have a chance of becoming a lawyer. That said, it would be helpful to know the underlying facts. What did he actually do? The labels - money laundering and bank fraud - are damning but I'd like to know the underlying facts.
Posted by: W.R. Chambers | Mar 26, 2008 3:35:35 PM