Wednesday, October 6, 2010
The Oklahoma Supreme Court has refused the request of a sanctioned attorney to seal and expunge the records of the bar discipline proceedings. The court concluded that the public interest required that such records be open and available to interested persons:
A lawyer's record of prior professional conduct is always open to scrutiny by this Court when he or she is before the Court in a professional disciplinary matter. We have explained that there is no equitable statute of limitations in Bar disciplinary proceedings and that "[t]his Court does not take lightly charges against a member of the Bar regardless of when they occurred..." (citation omitted)
This Court has also explained that "[t]he regulation of licensure, ethics, and discipline of legal practitioners is a nondelegable, constitutional responsibility solely vested in this Court in the exercise of our exclusive jurisdiction." (citation omitted)
The Court's need for a complete record of a lawyer's professional conduct in a disciplinary action and the exclusive jurisdiction of this Court in Bar disciplinary matters explains, in part, why examination of a lawyer's conduct is not necessarily limited to the ten years preceding the filing of the disciplinary complaint in this Court...
The court held that the request was governed by the its exclusive authority to regulate the legal profession rather than by expungement statutes. The attorney had been convicted of bribery of a witness. (Mike Frisch)