Friday, January 11, 2013
In December 2010, the Maryland Court of Appeals disbarred an attorney, rejecting the suggestion that a lesser sanction was appropriate:
The combination of Respondent's violations - in particular, abandonment of his clients, misrepresentation and the failure to cooperate with Bar Counsel's investigation - convinces us that Respondent is unfit to practice law in Maryland and disbarment is the appropriate sanction.
The attorney is also admitted in the District of Columbia. In considering reciprocal discipline, the D.C. Court of Appeals sought the views of the Board on Professional Responsibility ("BPR").
Well, the BPR had a different view than Maryland's highest court.
In the BPR's unanimous view, not only is disbarment too harsh. They have recommended a short suspension with automatic reinstatement on probation. The case was argued before the Court of Appeals earlier this week.
I have never understood why the BPR wants to fashion an approach that encourages disbarred lawyers from Maryland and elsewhere to ply their trade in the District of Columbia.
When I was at Bar Counsel, I devoted substantial efforts (see here, here and here) to fighting this longstanding BPR impulse. It was always worth it, in my view, because it served the goal of public protection.
The BPR report can be accessed at this link. The attorney's name is David Fox.
I hope the court has a better sense of the need to protect the public from unfit attorneys than the BPR. (Mike Frisch)