Tuesday, May 27, 2008
An attorney convicted of one count of misdemeanor insurance fraud was suspended in New York for six months "[f]ollowing a disciplinary hearing and agreement between Respondent and Disciplinary Counsel..." Unfortunately, he also was admitted in the District of Columbia. Ignoring the position of D.C. Bar Counsel, the Board on Professional Responsibility insisted on a full hearing (already done in New York) on the issues of whether the crime involved moral turpitude on its facts and the appropriate reciprocal discipline. The board thereafter took 36 pages and three opinions to reach the result that both parties had sought from the outset. One opinion in particular took Bar Counsel to task for its unwillingness to attempt to reinvent the wheel already created by the jurisdiction with primary authority and responsibility for the lawyer.
The D.C. Court of Appeals ended this silliness and imposed the reciprocal discipline of six months. The attorney was actually suspended for over two years while this wasteful, full dress review took place. As I get ready to pay my D.C. bar dues, it irritates me that such a large and increasing portion of those dues funds pointless proceedings. At least the recently adopted rules governing bar discipline will largely take the board out of the reciprocal discipline business. (Mike Frisch)