July 8, 2008
The Arizona Supreme Court recently approved a hearing officer's recommendation for a 30 day suspension plus one year probation in a matter where the lawyer had represented the wife of a doctor prosecuted for hiring someone to kill another physician. The lawyer wished to be present for his client's testimony at the murder trial and advised the trial court that he had a doctor's appointment at the scheduled time for the testimony. The judge's assistant learned that, in fact, the lawyer had teed-off with his regular golf group at the Tucson Country Club. One assumes that the judge also was teed-off. The lawyer contended that he had attempted to see a doctor and joined the golf group later in the afternoon.
The hearing officer found that "there is... a difference of opinion about what happened and when" and that "some important questions cannot be proved by the clear and convincing standard." Nonetheless, an agreed disposition of the charges was accepted after a proposed non-suspensory sanction had been rejected.
One requirement of probation is that the attorney "attend an ethics class on integrity, honesty and the absolute necessity of candor toward the tribunal." Didn't we learn this in kindergarten? Is there really a CLE class on this? (Mike Frisch)
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