August 13, 2008
The Buck Passes Here
The Washington Post, in its coverage of Attorney General Mukasey's speech to the American Bar Association, reports that:
...an official in the Justice Department Office of Professional Responsibility said the unit has notified bar associations of its findings against five lawyers singled out in reports thus far. The bar groups could initiate their own disciplinary proceedings against the lawyers, who include former Justice Department White House liaison Monica M. Goodling; former attorney general chief of staff D. Kyle Sampson; and former deputy attorney general chief of staff Michael D. Elston. Two lower-ranking officials, Esther Slater McDonald and John Nowacki, also were cited in the previous reports and their bar associations were notified, the official said.
As I have previously mentioned, I am not the least bit optimistic that the state bars can or will do anything, particularly in the face of the AG's statement that the conduct at issue was not criminal in nature. The task of a bar prosecutor will be made difficult by the fact that any charges will have to be proven without the benefit of applying collateral estoppel effect to the findings of the Inspector General and the OPR. The buck has thus been passed to agencies that have limited resources and the ability only to consider violation of rules of legal ethics. Because bar proceedings are generally treated as confidential unless and until formal charges are filed, the public will likely never know the disposition of these referrals or the reasoning behind the determinations. (Mike Frisch)
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