February 13, 2009
The Oklahoma Supreme Court denied the reinstatement petition of an attorney who had been suspended for two years as a result of his participation in a fraudulent real estate transaction. The injured clients, among others, had testified in opposition to the petition. The court concluded:
We agree with the trial panel that there is no evidence to indicate that the attorney engaged in the unauthorized practice of law during his suspension. However, although there is testimony in support of Pacenza, the transcript of proceedings before the trial panel makes it clear that the attorney has not demonstrated true remorse for the damage he caused and that he continues to fail to recognize that his clients have not been made whole financially. In addition, we are presented with testimony from the clients harmed by the attorney's actions leading to discipline, by the practicing bar, and by one judicial officer questioning his legal abilities and his integrity. Finally, we are faced with evidence that Pacenza did not strictly comply with the rules governing either his suspension or his reinstatement.
In making a reinstatement decision, this Court must disregard feelings of sympathy, recognizing that the petitioner's burden of proof is a heavy one. While we are concerned with any adverse effect reinstatement might have on the practicing bar, our foremost consideration is always to protect the public welfare. After having given due consideration to the evidence contained in this record and the appropriate factors examined in reinstatement proceedings, we determine that the petitioner has failed to carry his burden to show by clear and convincing evidence that he is entitled to reinstatement. Therefore, reinstatement is denied and costs of $$2,714.63 are imposed.
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