Thursday, January 14, 2010
In a 2-1 per curiam opinion, the District of Columbia Court of Appeals ordered the disbarment of an attorney who had submitted a fraudulent voucher for payment in a court-appointed criminal matter and testified falsely in the ensuing bar discipline hearing. The court had earlier remanded the case to its Board on Professional Responsibility for a finding concerning the false testimony and its impact on the appropriate sanction. The court majority rejected the board's proposed sanction of a two-year suspension with fitness.
The court majority found the misconduct to be extremely serious such that it "falls into a category of dishonesty of a flagrant kind we have held disbarment to be the appropriate sanction." The false testimony in the bar hearing "massively outweighed" any mitigating factors. The majority rejected the dissent's suggestion that it was creating a new category of cases where disbarment is the presumed sanction: "our holding is fact-specific and does not involve presumptive discipline...[disbarment is appropriate on these facts]...We hold no more;no less."
The dissent discusses the D.C. dishonesty precedents at length and concludes that the board's recommendation is within the range of discipline imposed in prior cases.
A good day to be a member of the D.C. Bar. (Mike Frisch)