Thursday, January 5, 2012

Court Declines To Consider Permanent Disbarment In D.C.

The District of Columbia Court of Appeals agreed with a hearing committee's proposed denial of a petition for reinstatement. The court noted that the petitioner had not sought review of the adverse recommendation.

The court declined to consider the argument of Bar Counsel that the crimes committed by the petitioner were so grave that the disbarment should be deemed permanent.

The hearing committee described the offenses:

Petitioner was convicted of crimes that strike at the very integrity of the legal profession and judicial system. As a court-appointed attorney, he was given access to an array of juvenile defendants; he admittedly engaged in grossly inappropriate behavior with a number of them; perhaps as many as twenty. His admitted actions ranged from fondling to oral sex. His victims were particularly vulnerable to someone like Petitioner, who was generous to them. He was also able to exploit the power of his position - a fear that, if the victims did not succumb to his advances, Petitioner might lose interest in them as clients.

The petitioner had been disbarred in 1981. This was his first application for reinstatement.

There is no provision for permanent disbarment in the rules or decisions in the District of Columbia. The en banc court overruled an earlier precedent that prevented reinstatement of attorneys convicted of crimes involving moral turpitude.

Disclosure: I argued the en banc case on behalf of the Office of Bar Counsel. (Mike Frisch)

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