Thursday, October 1, 2009

Five-Year Suspension Does Not Conclude Case

An interesting case involving both reciprocal discipline was decided by the District of Columbia Court of Appeals. The attorney was a partner of Coudert Brothers in charge of the representation of an accused international drug trafficker and money launderer. The lawyer handled matters relative to forfeiture of assets. The client's criminal lawyer was F. Lee Bailey. The misconduct involved the transfer of more than $1.5 million from the client's bank account in Austria to the attorney's Swiss account. Later some portions were transferred to the lawyer's personal accounts in Hong Kong and Thailand.

The attorney was convicted of tax offenses and suspended for five years in New York. The court here rejected D.C. Bar Counsel's call for disbarment (which in fact is a five-year suspension) and imposed discipline identical to New York. The court concluded that the facts established in New York did not amount to intentional or reckless misappropriation of client funds However, the court was not finished--it remanded the criminal conviction for a hearing on moral turpitude. If moral turpitude is found, disbarment must be imposed.

The representation of this same client led to F. Lee Bailey's disbarment in Florida and Massachusetts. (Mike Frisch)

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