July 28, 2009
Tax Offense Leads To Suspension
An attorney who had entered a guilty plea to one count of failure to file state income taxes was suspended for 90 days by the South Carolina Supreme Court. The court's reasoning:
Respondent admits that by his conduct he has violated Rule 8.4(b) of the Rules of Professional Conduct, Rule 407, SCACR (it is professional misconduct for a lawyer to engage in conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice). We also find respondent violated the following Rules of Professional Conduct: Rule 8.4(a)(it is professional misconduct for a lawyer to violate the Rules of Professional Conduct); Rule 8.4(b)(it is professional misconduct for a lawyer to commit a criminal act that reflects adversely on the lawyer’s honesty, trustworthiness, or fitness); and Rule 8.4(d)(it is professional misconduct for a lawyer to engage in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation).
Respondent also admits he has violated the following Rules for Lawyer Disciplinary Enforcement, Rule 413, SCACR: Rule 7(a)(4) (it shall be a ground for discipline for a lawyer to be convicted of crime of moral turpitude or serious crime); Rule 7(a)(5) (it shall be a ground for discipline for a lawyer to engage in conduct tending to pollute the administration of justice or to bring the courts or the legal profession into disrepute or conduct demonstrating an unfitness to practice law). We also find respondent has violated Rule 7(a)(1), RLDE, Rule 413, SCACR (it shall be a ground for discipline for a lawyer to violate the Rules of Professional Conduct or any other rules of this jurisdiction regarding professional conduct of lawyers).
We find a ninety day suspension is the appropriate sanction for respondent’s misconduct. Accordingly, we accept the Agreement for Discipline by Consent and suspend respondent from the practice of law for a ninety day period. However, we deny respondent’s request that the suspension be made retroactive to the date of his interim suspension. Respondent shall not be eligible for reinstatement or readmission until he has successfully completed all conditions of his sentence, including, but not limited to, any conditions of probation. Rule 33(f)(10), RLDE, Rule 413, SCACR. Within fifteen days of the date of this opinion, respondent shall file an affidavit with the Clerk of Court showing that he has complied with Rule 30, RLDE, Rule 413, SCACR.
The attorney has paid the taxes, as well as a fine and the costs of prosecution that were imposed in the criminal case. (Mike Frisch)
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It isn't very often that one sees a finding of having violated Rule 8.4(a). Probably for good reason. Am I the only one that finds a rule such as this which is circular to be troubling?
Also, "conduct tending to pollute the administration of justice" ... pollute? Interesting choice of words.
Posted by: FixedWing | Jul 29, 2009 5:29:14 AM