Thursday, March 5, 2009
The District of Columbia Court of Appeals decided the first case under the new consent disposition procedure. The court imposed the jointly recommended sanction of a one-year suspension with fitness for an array of violations sounding in pervasive neglecct of client matters. Given the stipulated violations, reinstatement on application will require a significant showing of rehabilitation and fitness to practice that may make the process both lenghty and uncertain as to outcome. The public is thus adequately protected and the prosecutor has given away nothing that gives any concern about plea bargaining the case away.
The other benefits in terms of time and consumption of resources are obvious. The case was heard by a hearing committee in December 2008 and is now over in early March 2009. If tried as was required in the pre-negotiated disposition world, this same result would have taken 5-7 years. Further, there likely would be full briefing before a hearing committee, the board and the court. (MIke Frisch)