January 31, 2009
Deceit, Deception And Lies
The Florida Supreme Court upheld the decision of its Board of Bar Examiners to refuse to process the application for readmission of a disbarred lawyer. The court declined the applicant's plea to "extricate and rescue him from the web of deceit, deception and lies that he has woven since he was first suspended [in Florida] in 1988."
He had been originally admitted in the District of Columbia in 1968 and was subject to a series of sanctions in Florida including a suspension for escrow account violations. He failed to advise D.C. of the Florida discipline and concealed the sanction in order to secure admission in Palau. His "gossamer guile was eventually discovered" by a number of jurisdictions (the Federal States of Micronesia, Palau and D.C.) that then disbarred him, which led to his Florida disbarment on the basis of reciprocal discipline.
Here, the court held that he may not seek reinstatement in Florida until he obtains it in the jurisdiction that originally had disbarred him. To hold otherwise, the court concluded, would create the possibility of turning Florida into a "safe haven" for lawyers determined to be worthy of the ultimate sanction by another jurisdiction.
A dissent would find that Florida, rather than Palau, is the applicant's "home state" and thus would not apply the jurisdictional bar to possible readmission found by the majority.
Note: I had some involvement in the D.C. disbarment. (Mike Frisch)
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