May 28, 2010
Gentlemanly Restraints Removed
The web page of the Massachusetts Board of Bar Overseers reports a disbarment imposed by a single justice of the Supreme Judicial Court for misappropriation of entrusted funds and related misconduct. The Board's Memorandum describes the misconduct and the attorney's response:
Vehemently assailing the committee members, the probate court judge, Attorney Davis, and personnel in the Office of Bar Counsel in ad hominem terms, the respondent proclaims that he has been limited, until now, “by the prudential veil of disclosure and criticism of judicial action applicable to an admitted attorney.” Disbarment, he suggests somewhat ominously, “would free him from those outdated and questionable restraints, observance of which, as a gentleman and professional, have hurt and cost him dearly.” He should be disbarred.
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Anger can definitely cloud one’s judgement. In fact, I would say that this is the single biggest impediment for an attorney attempting to fight a disciplinary charge that he believes false.
But however unwise it was for him to say it, there is actually a modicum of truth to what this ex-attorney says. If a court reprimands or suspends an attorney, then they are still able to exercise some control over him. He might not be able to practice now, but so long as he watches what he says and does, one day he should again be able to practice. Disbarment is different. While there is always the possibility of readmission to practice at some point in the future, except in Louisiana, of course, most ex-attorneys understand that that is a very slim prospect. So there is not a lot to restrain them from saying what they really feel – just as this ex-attorney did.
Yes, there is a lot to recommend sending troublesome attorneys to purgatory rather than simply dispatching them.
Posted by: FixedWing | May 28, 2010 11:36:59 AM