Monday, February 2, 2009

State v. Federal Bar Discipline

The difference between federal and state court bar sanctions is on display in a recent report and recommendation of the Illinois Review Board. The attorney had failed to provide competent representation, advanced unwarranted claims and defenses and attacked the integrity of judges in connection with his handling of asylum petitions in the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. The Seventh Circuit ordered him to show cause why sanctions should not be imposed on his license, calling his briefs "subprofessional" and disbarred him after he had filed two documents in response. He then sought to vacate the order, challenging the court's "factual baseless Order because of your laziness." A second motion called the court a "pure white boy club."

On the above facts, the lawyer was the subject of a plenary hearing on disciplinary charges. The hearing board proposed a one year suspension with all but 30 days stayed. The review board here proposes a suspension of five months and futher court order, staying all but 120 days (thereby making reinstatement automatic) with probation of two years, conditioned on CLE and a mentoring relationship with an experienced immigation attorney. the mentor must report any lapses in the lawyer's practice. (Mike Frisch)

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