June 7, 2012
Noted Attorney Reciprocally Suspended
The District of Columbia Court of Appeals has imposed reciprocal discipline of a two year suspension with all but 120 days stayed in a matter involving noted attorney and author Pierce O'Donnell. The sanction is based on discipline imposed in California.
LAWeekly blog had this report of the underlying criminal matter and California bar action:
The State Bar of California recently disciplined the master barrister - famous for representing Art Buchwald against Paramount Pictures in the "Coming to America" case and for getting more than $100 million from BP Arco in a pollution case - suspending O'Donnell for two months and placing him on probation for two years.
The suspension, imposed February 23, is connected to O'Donnell's 2006 conviction for five misdemeanor counts of using a false name in making political contributions, according to the state bar.
O'Donnell, who ran for the U.S. Congress more than 30 years ago, was accused of promising to reimburse his employees for contributions made to former LA Mayor James K. Hahn during the 2001 campaign after O'Donnell failed to raise a $50,000 pledge.
As a result, 26 people in or connected to O'Donnell's office coughed up campaign donations. The LA City Attorney later charged O'Donnell with 26 counts of using a false name in making political contributions; O'Donnell eventually pleaded no contest to five counts.
In his disciplinary decision, Judge of the State Bar Richard A. Platel noted that O'Donnell had no prior record of discipline over his 29 years in practice, "displayed spontaneous candor and cooperation," and "demonstrated remorse."
I was fortunate to meet Art Buchwald when I was a teenager and later as a adult. At the second meeting, he asked me what I did for a living. When I told him I was an attorney, his response: "Well, you didn't listen to me then." (Mike Frisch)
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