Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Former Prosecutor Disbarred In Michigan

The Michigan Attorney Discipline Board has increased a suspension of two years imposed by a hearing panel and ordered the disbarment of a former prosecutor convicted of a felony involving misconduct in office. The Board's opinion is linked here.

Detroit News has the story:

Wayne County's former chief drug prosecutor has been disbarred after the state Attorney Discipline Board ruled Tuesday that her two-year suspension for lying in court was too lenient of a punishment.

Karen Plants conspired with two Inkster narcotics officers to lie about the conduct of an informant in a case stemming from a 2005 cocaine bust. Plants pleaded guilty and was sentenced to six months in the Wayne County Jail. The two officers pleaded guilty to misdemeanors.

Mary Waterstone, the judge who presided over the case and allegedly knew about the lies, has since retired and is appealing her charges of misconduct in office.

A hearing panel in April decided to suspend Plants' law license for two years, but the state's attorney Grievance Administrator argued that the punishment wasn't strong enough.

"The hearing panel found 'that the respondent . . . committed misconduct in offce (sic) by knowingly allowing false testimony to be given during a trial and by making misleading arguments to a jury' and imposed a suspension of two years, ordering that the suspension would be effective as of the date of her March 2, 2011 guilty plea," the Attorney Discipline Board wrote in its 48-page ruling. "The Grievance Administrator has petitioned for review, arguing that disbarment is the appropriate sanction. We agree."

Plants' misconduct came to light in 2006 in a previously sealed transcript of a private 2005 conversation in Waterstone's chambers, in which Plants informed the judge about the lies. The judge said she would allow them to go unreported to protect the life of the informant.

The transcript was uncovered when lawyers for the convicted drug dealer, Alexander Aceval, launched a series of unsuccessful appeals.

Plants can reapply for her license after five years but will have to appear before a panel and retake her bar examination.

There are concurring and dissenting opinions on the sanction issue. (Mike Frisch)

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/legal_profession/2012/03/the-michigan-attorney-discipline-board-has-increased-a-suspension-of-two-years-imposed-by-a-hearing-panel-and-ordered-the-dis.html

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