Monday, August 4, 2008

The Last Installment

The District of Columbia Court of Appeals disbarred an attorney who had misappropriated over $10,000 as court-appointed guardian of a ward. The lawyer had failed to cooperate with the Auditor-Master and with the Bar's investigation. The lawyer had written checks to "herself, her mother, and to a merchant to pay the last installment on [her] son's class ring." Lamentably, the court followed a recommendation not to make restitution a condition of any future reinstatement because the estate had been made whole by a surety. The Board on Professional Responsibility concluded that restitution was unwarranted because the issue was not "within the Board's competence as the legal arrangement between a surety and its client can be complex and could be impacted by contracts not contained in the record." Does that lack of expertise justify allowing the lawyer to keep the stolen funds and still seek reinstatement? (Mike Frisch)

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