February 19, 2010
Raising The Stakes
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ordered a suspension of a year and a day after issuing a November 18,2009 order to show cause why a suspension of that length should not be imposed. The attorney had failed to respond to the show cause order.
The submissions attached to the court's order set forth a cautionary tale. The original misconduct resulted in a private reprimand. The attorney contended that the disciplinary system had no authority to sanction her, a position that was rejected by the court. The attorney took the jurisdictional claim to federal court, where the claims were dismissed with prejudice. The dismissal is now on appeal to the Third Circuit.
After the court rejected the jurisdictional argument, the attorney failed to appear for the private reprimand (which is administered in person). The attorney also failed to pay costs as ordered. As a result, disciplinary counsel recommended that the private reprimand be converted to a public censure and that the attorney be administratively suspended for failure to pay the costs.
The pleadings filed by the attorney and disciplinary counsel are attached to the court's order. A private reprimand becomes a suspension with fitness. (Mike Frisch)
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