Thursday, June 20, 2013
The District of Columbia Court of Appeals declined to treat a South Korean conviction as conclusive proof of the underlying offense, and held that "a conviction of a crime in a foreign country, unlike a conviction in this country, is not automatically given conclusive effect for purposes of suspension or disbarment" pursuant to statute and bar rules.
As a result, a D. C. attorney convicted in any foreign court will not be subject to immediate interim suspension or to a moral turpitude inquiry based on the conviction.
The attorney here had been convicted in Incheon District Court of theft from another passenger on a flight from the U.S. to South Korea.
The court further held that Bar Counsel can initiate an original proceeding based upon the criminal behavior and that
the factual and legal determinations embodied in a foreign conviction may be given conclusive effect...pursuant to principles of collateral estoppel if the Board [on Professional Responsibility], in its discretion, determines that Bar Counsel has established that it is fair and reasonable to do so.
The court indicated that, if Bar Counsel brings an original proceeding predicated on this conviction, "[t]he Board and its Hearing Committee, insofar as they act as finders of fact and draw conclusions of law, will be expected...to exercise broad discretion in determining whether to attach collateral estoppel effect to [the] foreign judgment entered against the respondent ."
Our prior coverage is linked here. (Mike Frisch)