Monday, February 2, 2009
Linked here is the very first hearing committee report from the District of Columbia approving an agreed disposition. The hearing committee accepts as proven (after a proceeding that looked a lot like a criminal plea) a laundry list of ethics violations in multiple client matters. The hearing was held less than six weeks prior to the filing of the report.
The committee, while recognizing that a sanction as heavy as disbarment was within the range of possible outcomes, recommends the adoption of the joint proposed sanction of a year and fitness:
After consideration of the record and based on the Chair's ex parte discussions with Bar Counsel, the committee is satisfied with the negotiated discipline because the sanction includes a fitness requirement. The Committee believes that the existence of a fitness requirement will ensure that the appropriate review will be undertaken before the [attorney] is readmitted to practice in the District of Columbia.
My understanding is that this proposed sanction goes directly to the Court of Appeals as an uncontested matter. The public is protected by the fitness provision and years of delay has been eliminated from the process. Having the lawyer's suspension imposed in months rather than years has to be regarded as progress.
I do not see any downside here and applaud the common sense, result-oriented approach of the participants. (Mike Frisch)