September 7, 2010
A Delayed Report, A Lame Excuse
Today's award for chutzpah goes to Hearing Committee No. Ten of the District of Columbia Board on Professional Responsibility. After taking nearly three years to decide a disciplinary case, the hearing committee explains why:
Both parties filed overlong post-hearing briefs: Bar Counsel's Brief is 77 pages and Respondent's Brief is 149 pages, plus an Addendum. As there were few facts in dispute and the parties stipulated to the admissibility of all exhibits, the parties' overlong briefs did not advance the panel's understanding of the case. Indeed, they imposed an undue burden on the panel and contributed to the panel's substantial delay in issuing its Report and Recommendation.
The rule requires that the report be filed in 120 days, not three years. If readings briefs and deciding cases is an "undue burden," then these members should resign and let someone with the time to do the work take their place. If the facts were largely undisputed, please explain the three-year failure to render a decision.
This excuse is horsefeathers, a tamer version of the word I'd prefer to use.
The case is In re Kenneth Martin, and can be accessed though this link, since the Bar in its finite wisdom has seen fit to prevent linking to decided cases. They recommend a one-year suspension. (Mike Frisch)
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In my own case, I submitted a 99 page Response to the Statement of Bar Counsel on 27 June 2007. The Board managed to release its Report on 3 October 2007 or just over three months later. So it is possible for the Board to produce results in less than three year even when faced with substantial pleadings (though perhaps in my own case they should have taken a little more time and got it right).
However, that still doesn't guarantee a prompt resolution. As of this date I have now been under summary interim suspension for three years and six months. Not bad considering that in the District of Columbia, a five year suspension is considered the equivalent of disbarment. In re Manning, 593 A.2d 643, 646, n.1 (D.C., 1991) (Appended Board report).
You are right to highlight the problems on the Board. But why stop there? The District of Columbia Court of Appeals is ultimately responsible for the system that they have put in place and continue to protect from calls for change.
Posted by: FixedWing | Sep 8, 2010 7:42:51 AM