Thursday, April 3, 2008

Increased Sanction For Domestic Violence

In a reciprocal discipline matter where New Jersey had imposed a public censure for an attorney's act of domestic violence against his wife, the District of Columbia Court of Appeals imposed a suspension of 60 days. The attorney had contested the recommendation of the Board on Professional Responsibility to increase the New Jersey sanction to a suspension. Bar Counsel had supported the board's recommendation, which the court adopted. Notably, the New York First Department and the U. S. District Court for the Southern District had imposed reciprocal censure.

While suspending this attorney (who likely does not practice in D.C. anyhow) may provide some satisfaction, I am strongly opposed to modifications of sanction in reciprocal cases as a matter of principle. The Bar Counsel that lives with the upward departure dies with the downward departure. The D.C. Board has not been the least bit shy in reducing proposed sanctions in cases involving serious dishonesty. Decisions like this one simply empower the board to take a de novo approach to these matters. Somewhere along the line, the public will suffer. (Mike Frisch)

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