Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Consent To Disbarment More Than A Pothole?

A divided Maryland Court of Appeals has reinstated a high-profile lawyer-lobbyist who had consented to disbarment after a conviction in California for criminal conspiracy, grand theft and commercial bribery.

The consent was entered while the conviction was pending. The conviction later was reversed and the criminal charges were not retried.

The court noted that disbarment is "not an immutable sanction" and that "a fallen lawyer may rise again."

The court relied on precedent involving former Governor Marvin Mandel. Madnel had been disbarred based upon a conviction that later was reversed. He did not consent to disbarment, so the reversal extinguished the basis of the disbarment.

The court majority held that, under the circumstance presented here, "his consent to disbarment does not amount to an admission of guilt." Bar Counsel had supported the reinstatement petition.

Judge Adkins' dissent states that 

The majority breezes by these [enumerated] record gaps as mere potholes on the road to [his] deserved reinstatement, but I am unpersuaded. The Maryland rules require anyone consenting to disbarment to admit a certain degree of misconduct, irrespective of any conviction in another state. Once that admission is made, I believe it incautious to allow a reversal of the conviction - in a separate proceeding - to conclusively silence a voluntary admission of guilt, especially when other bad acts potentially bearing on a disbarred attorney's overall character lurk in an undeveloped factual record.

Two judges joined the dissent as well as in a separate dissent by Judge McDonald.

The Daily Record has this earlier report.  (Mike Frisch)

Bar Discipline & Process | Permalink

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