March 13, 2013
Not Without Sympathy
The Utah Supreme Court has disbarred an attorney who violated a 2010 suspension by taking on new cases during the period of suspension.
The attorney admitted that he had appeared in court while suspended "because he was facing the loss of his house and practice."
The court rejected the attorney's various procedural contentions and alleged mitigating factors in affirming the district court's order of disbarment, but concluded
We are not without some sympathy for the plight of [the attorney]. It could be argued that the initial suspension was too stiff a penalty for the conduct that prompted it. But that question is not before us, and whatever the propriety of the sanction, the appropriate response was not to defy it, much less cover-up the defiance with subsequent misrepresentations and misleading justifications.
As is often the case, here the aftermath and cover-up were worse than the intial offense. A suspension order is a serious sanction to be taken seriously. Here it was roundly ignored, and flouted further by a subsequent cover-up. We do not condone such behavior from litigants, and we certainly cannot countenance it from officers of the court. The disbarment stands.
The original discipline involved "submitting multiple recusal motions when only one such motion is allowed by rule and failing to appear at trial. " (Mike Frisch)
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