Thursday, July 23, 2009
The District of Columbia Court of Appeals imposed a three year suspension of an attorney as reciprocal discipline for a suspension of that same length in Virginia. The misconduct involved a failure to disclose information in the Virginia bar admission questionnaire while waiving in from Pennsylvania. The applicant had been charged with murder in Jamaica while on leave from his duties as an infantry officer in the United States Marines. He was tried and convicted of the lesser offense of manslaughter and sentenced to two years imprisonment at hard labor.
He had failed to disclose the conviction despite a specific instruction on the application to the effect that, if there is any doubt, report. In the Virginia proceedings, he claimed that he had relied on advice from an unidentified Pennsylvania bar employee that he had no duty to report the outcome of a matter before a "kangaroo court." He also presented evidence that the police inspector who investigated the criminal matter had sought a bribe to drop the charges. As the court here states, the Virginia hearing tribunal was "[u]nderstandably not impressed by these representations..." The obligation is to report and give the admitting authorities the opportunity to decide the impact of the incident on character and fitness. (Mike Frisch)