Monday, February 16, 2009
An Arizona hearing officer has recommended a 30 day suspension with one year probation of an attorney who has practice for over 30 years without prior discipline. He had been an assistant district attorney and had little federal criminal experience. After a guilty verdict had been returned in his first federal criminal trial, he agreed to note an appeal for his client. When he electronically filed the notice of appeal, he was advised that there was a $450 filing fee. He was not aware until then of the fee. The client owed him money and the lawyer was unwilling to advance the costs. The court pressed him for payment and he did not respond. An order to show cause also did not rouse a response; the court imposed a $1,000 sanction. Eventually, new counsel was appointed to pursue the appeal.
The officer found incompetence and failure to respond to the orders of the Ninth Circuit. The officer was concerned that, if the attorney did not wish to handle the appeal, he could not figure out the apparently simple process of transitioning the appeal to the federal public defender. The proposed sanction would also require that he pay the sanction imposed by the federal circuit court. (Mike Frisch)