August 3, 2010
Default Revocation Not Vacated
The Michigan Attorney Discipline Board affirmed a panel order of revocation in a case that involved an attorney's conviction for driving while suspended an forgery of license documents/plates. The attorney defaulted on those charges as well as a separate matter involving dishonesty in filing five affidavits in a civil matter. The board found that the panel had properly exercised its discretion to deny the attorney's motion to vacate the default.
As to sanction:
Upon review of the nature of the charged misconduct, it appears fairly obvious that
revocation was the appropriate level of discipline. Respondent testified that, while his license was suspended, he received in the mail the license tabs belonging to the previous owner of his home. He intentionally placed the license plate tabs on his motor vehicle, drove on a suspended license,and then misrepresented his identity to the traffic officer who pulled him over. Respondent candidly admitted that he gave the officer a false name in an effort to avoid detection. As the panel found:Here, respondent has violated duties owed to the public by committing criminal acts reflecting adversely on his honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer, and for engaging in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation by submitting false affidavits to the trial and appellate courts. See ABA Standard 5.1. Notably, with respect to respondent's criminal acts, there is no question and/or dispute that respondent acted intentionally and knowingly when he placed false license plate tabs on his motor vehicle and proceeded to drive on a suspended driver's license. Indeed, and most disconcerting, respondent admitted that he placed the false tabs on his motor vehicle "because [he] didn't think [he] was going to get caught."
A concurring opinion expressed concern about the default but agreed that the record failed to establish a meritorious defense to the majority of the charges. (Mike Frisch)
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