Friday, August 15, 2008
The District of Columbia Court of Appeals remanded a 'hybrid" bar discipline case that arose out of the denial of admission in Montana and a subsequent five-year suspension imposed in Virginia. The Board on Professional Responsibility had recommended that the court impose an additional requirement that the attorney demonstrate fitness prior to reinstatement. Virginia had ordered certain conditions for reinstatement that apparently did not include such a requirement.
The board likely was influenced by submissions made by the attorney after discipline was imposed in Virginia. He wrote the bar counsel that "I refuse to participate or cooperate [in] any way in your criminal and cowardly Fascist racketeering conspiracy, otherwise known as the murder [me] legally game. Go to Hell." In another letter to a circuit court judge who had sat on the discipline case, he characterized the Virginia sanction as "a Hitlerite decision...a Fascist decision...You leave me only my absolute moral superiority that I invoke against you and your co-conspirators...Go to Hell."
The board report gives further insight into the attorney's behavior. His submission in the D.C. matter was an "impassioned response, which includes quotations running the literary-cinematic gamut from Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland to Stanley Kramer's Judgment at Nuremberg." His actions were a result of a "fanatical belief that he is the victim of a far-reaching conspiracy" to destroy him pursued for 13 years by his former law firm. He filed pleadings stating that the District of Columbia Bar Counsel were "little puppets of the Nazi criminal organization known as 'The Firm' " and had engaged in "Hitlerite and Stalinist" reasoning.
Does anyone really think that a remand is necessary to require a fitness showing here? Not many disciplinary regimes would be indulgent of being told where to go in this manner. While I agree with the court that reciprocal discipline may not be imposed based on the denial of bar admission in Montana, I do not see the point of a remand.
The Virginia order is linked here. (Mike Frisch)