Monday, March 15, 2010

Reciprocal Discipline Imposed

The District of Columbia Court of Appeals rejected the contentions of a high-profile attorney that he had been denied due process and that there was an infirmity of proof in the Florida bar disciplinary sanction of a three-year suspension. The attorney is perhaps best known for his representation of the defendant in the so-called D.C. Madam case. The court imposed the identical sanction of a three-year suspension with fitness.

The attorney was found to have engaged in misconduct involving failure to pay court-ordered child support for his three childreen. He was held in civil contempt and incarceration until the contempt was purged. He also had been sanctioned for filing "vexatious and meritless litigation" based on findings that he had filed over three dozen meritless appeals or lawsuits, including "at least twelve actions in federal court against judges assigned to his cases."

The Florida hearing was held in the absence as he was engaged in a high-profile case in D.C. He thereafter submitted a proposed report to the referee and claimed that the referee had adopted the Bar's proposed report "almost verbatim." The court here rejected his contentions that the proceedings deprived him of due process because the charges were not under oath (citing Ex Parte Burr) and noted that the complaint was based on public record court orders.

The court also rejected claims of delay in Florida, that the Florida suspension was void because the judges failed to take loyalty oaths, that he was prejudiced by having his affirmative defenses struck ("It is no defense to a charge of 'vexatious and meritless' litigation that Respondent has a constitutional right of access to the courts, because there is no right to access to the courts to conduct vexatious litigation"), and that he had been denied his confrontation rights as

it is well-settled that there is "no confrontation right in an attorney discipline case."

The court further found that there was no violation od due process rights in denying his efforts to subpoena judges, as the attorney was not entitled to probe their mental processes.

Finally, the court found no infirmity in the proofs. The attorney had paid not a penny of child support and there was no basis to question the Florida findings with respect to the non-meritorious litigation. (Mike Frisch)

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