Monday, October 20, 2008

Lengthy Process

One of the recurring issues faced by bar prosecutors relates to the timing of disciplinary charges. Particularly in client neglect situations, the complaints tend to trickle in to bar counsel over a period of time. When charges are brought, all complaints that have resulted in charges are joined together for a single hearing. What if meritorious complaints come in after charges have been heard? This problem can mean that the same attorney may be the subject of a series of separate charges over an extended period of time, with each proceeding generating a sanction.

An example that brings this issue to mind is a recent decision by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, suspending an attorney for one year and one day for neglect of two client matters. The attorney had been subject to two warnings and a prior three month suspension. This order will now require the attorney to petition for reinstatement and prove fitness to practice. Complaints that trickle in now will likely be held for consideration if and when the lawyer seeks restoration to active practice. (Mike Frisch)

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