Wednesday, November 25, 2009

D.C. Court Approves Consent Disposition

In a case that was being closely watched by those interested in the operation of the bar disciplinary system in the District of Columbia (we few, we happy few), the Court of Appeals issued an opinion today approving an agreed-upon 30 day suspension. The case, which had been opened seven years ago, involved the conduct of an attorney retained by the Hutu government of Rwanda. He admitted that he had violated his obligation to safeguard disputed entrusted funds after the RPF came into power.

A hearing committee had approved the consent disposition over a forceful dissent that expressed concern that the sanction was too light. The court, in its per curiam decision, described the limited role of the hearing committee in the consent process and discussed the implementation of the consent rule. The court noted that, as the rule is new, it was "departing from the brevity of disposition that both we and [the consent rule] expect to be the norm in these cases."

This decision is great news for those of us who believe that consent dispositions are an indispensable tool in resolving bar discipline matters in a prompt and fair manner. The decision can be found by following this link and clicking on the decision in In re Johnson. (Mike Frisch)

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