Tuesday, March 18, 2008
An attorney was disbarred in 1988 for mail and securities fraud convictions as a result of "his misappropriation of confidential securities information from his former law firm employer, and subsequent sharing of the information with friends and relatives who traded in securities making approximately $1.5 million in illegal profits." He was reinstated in 2003.
After the reinstatement, the attorney was subject to disciplinary charges of dishonesty and false statement in the application for bar readmission. A referee sustained 17 of the 18 charges of misconduct and recommended that his license be "revoked, rather than disbarred, because it was fraudulently obtained in the first place." A Hearing Panel proposed either disbarment or revocation. The New York Appellate Division for the First Judicial Department chose disbarment:
"...we believe the appropriate sanction is disbarment, not revocation. To be sure, it is logically appealing to revoke a license where an attorney only gained admission based on fraud. Indeed, we have chosen that path on several occasions. However, we have also disbarred attorneys who gained admission only to be later found to have perpetrated a fraud on the court. Under these circumstances, disbarment is the appropriate sanction, as respondent has engaged in a pervasive pattern of affirmative misrepresentations and failed to fully accept responsibility for his serious misconduct." (citations omitted)
I dealt with this issue in a D.C. case where a lawyer named Regis Toomey (not the actor) got admitted in the District of Columbia but had neglected to disclose that he had been disbarred in Texas. The D.C. Court of Appeals ordered revocation. (Mike Frisch)