Friday, July 11, 2008
The Tennessee Supreme Court denied a petition for reinstatement of a disbarred attorney who had been convicted of bribery and conspiracy to bribe as a result of attempting to persuade a witness in a first degree murder trial to recant her preliminary hearing testimony. There were witnesses who testified favorably on the petition, including the person who had employed him as a chauffeur after the disbarment and a pastor who testified that he had become an "outspoken witness for the Lord." Other witnesses, including the criminal prosecutor in the bribery case and the Associate Dean for Clinical Affairs at Vanderbilt University Law School, had opposed reinstatement.
A concurring and dissenting opinion notes that the panel that took evidence on the petition had favored reinstatement: the court has "replace[d] our orderly and principled standard of review with an amorphous standard that essentially empowers this Court to do whatever it chooses in a particular case." The dissent observes that there is no permanent disbarment in Tennessee and that it is hard to imagine a more impressive case of rehabilitation. (Mike Frisch)