Friday, November 6, 2009

30 Days Lasts Nine Years

The Indiana Supreme Court ordered the reinstatement of an attorney who had been suspended for 30 days with a requirement that he petition for reinstatement on June 9, 2000. The court found that the petitioner had satisfied the requirements for the return of his license by clear and convincing evidence.

Justice Dickson dissented, and would find that the petitioner failed to establish two of the reinstatement prerequisites: a proper understanding of ethical standards and that he "can safely be recommended to the legal profession, the courts, and the public as a person of trust and confidence, and in general aid in the administration of justice as a member of the bar and an officer of the Courts."

One prerequisite requires the petitioner to take the MPRE and pass with a scaled score of 80. 

In the District of Columbia, there is a case involving an attorney who was suspended for a year and a day in 1983 (which at the time imposed a requirement of a petition for reinstatement) and had never been able to achieve reinstatement. The story is related in this opinion of the Court of Appeals denying reinstatement in 2004. Money quote from petitioner: "The typical BPR Hearing Committee consists of two toads and a troglodyte meaning no doubt, that only a cynical toady would knowingly participate in such an obviously lawless inquisitorial process." (Mike Frisch)

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Attorney Stanton is not alone. There is also Attorney Richardson who has been under suspension for almost as long.

Then there is also myself. I have been suspended in Connecticut for four years. As Disciplinary Counsel has pointed out more than once, I could end the suspension simply by listening to some audio tapes. The original suspension order was for six months. I’ve also been suspended in New York for three years. There I am only required to pay a $315 filing fee. Uncharacteristically, my suspension was backdated to the original Connecticut date in New York so I could have been reinstated immediately. It was suspension for appearance only. But I remain suspended in New York also. And I remain automatically suspended in the District of Columbia as I fight the discipline here. I have now been suspended for two years and seven months even though Bar Counsel is only seeking a six month suspension. The suspension in the District of Columbia has clearly become coercive. In fact, this is true for most of these shorter suspensions. Who can really justify fighting when they have mouths to feed? But I guess principle can sometimes be a powerful thing.

Here is my comment on this as taken from the conclusion of my brief before the District of Columbia Court of Appeals:

>>> In the disciplinary arena, the Court’s domination of the Bar has manifested itself in examples such as Attorneys Stanton and Richardson who have long-since served their suspension periods yet are prevented from practicing in this jurisdiction because they continue to challenge the authority of this Court. Indeed, Bar Counsel sought, and the Board recommended, a proof of fitness requirement for Respondent despite no other jurisdiction having imposed such a requirement. See footnote 2, supra. The fitness requirement is the mechanism frequently used by this Court to force lawyers who challenge the legitimacy of the Court’s actions to kowtow to its authority. Attorneys Stanton and Richardson are excellent examples of this. Because Respondent is similarly challenging the practices of this Court’s disciplinary régime, it is likely that this Court will also attempt to muzzles Respondent by also requiring proof of fitness. <<<


Posted by: FixedWing | Nov 6, 2009 3:11:40 PM

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