Wednesday, January 19, 2011
The District of Columbia Court of Appeals rejected the proposed one-year suspension of its Board on Professional Responsibility and imposed a three-year suspension with fitness in a matter involving "multiple violations of the rules prohibiting dishonest conduct." Unlike the board, the court found that the use of an escrow account to shield personal assets violated the rules that require basic honesty.
In part because the attorney "is comfortable acting dishonestly" and continues to deny misconduct, a fitness requirement was imposed. Notably:
[The attorney's] misuse of the IOLTA and escrow accounts was possible only because he is a member of the bar; an ordinary citizen trying to escape his tax obligations does not have the option of opening accounts with TINs other than his own, or of misleading government investigators by hiding funds that ostensibly exist only for the funds in the possession of a fiduciary.
The court also concluded that false statements made by the attorney in a sworn affidavit "cannot meaningfully be distinguished from false testimony..." He also did not further his cause because "very personal commitments" kept him from appearing before the board for oral argument. (Mike Frisch)