Tuesday, July 21, 2009
The Alaska Supreme Court rejected an attorney's argument that a proposed suspension was too severe and imposed a three year suspension with two years stayed. The attorney had neglected the affairs of several clients. He contended that the proceedings before the Disciplinary Board was "rife with substantive and procedural deficiencies" and that the arguments of Assistant Disciplinary Counsel amounted to "pervasive character assasination and vilification."
The Panel had looked to the length of the neglect as its "starting point" in its sanction recommendation, noting a "symmetry" between the period of neglect and the resulting suspension. The board adopted the panel's recommendation "without additional comment or analysis."
The court here agreed with the lawyer that "the 'symmetry' reasoning is ad hoc, and no precedent supports it." Nonetheless, the court adopted the board's proposed sanction. The court also rejected an array of due process contentions regarding the board's procedures. The arguments of Assistant Bar Counsel were not a diatribe; rather, the "presentation was relatively brief, contained no inflammatory or otherwise inappropriate remarks, and did not stray from the record." (MIke Frisch)