Tuesday, April 29, 2014

What Guilty Plea? Let Him Back In!

The District of Columbia Board on Professional Responsibility recently issued a report that reflects its deeply held values.

The case involves an attorney who pleaded guilty to Improper Photography or Visual Recording in Texas. He may have the charges dismissed on completion of a period of community service in the distant future. He also has served 30 days in prison.

The Texas adjudication was reported to the District of Columbia Court of Appeals, which suspended him as a result of the guilty plea to a "serious crime." The court referred the matter to aforesaid Board, pursuant to its rules, for a moral turpitude recommendation.

If the crime involves moral turpitude per se, disbarment is automatic. If not, the matter is referred to a hearing committee to consider whether the facts involved aforesaid turpitude.

The Board chose a third option -- it ignored the court's order to  consider moral turpitude and told the court it should immediately reinstate the attorney.

Why?

Because he might wind up not convicted someday.

So, the Board proposes, the court should ignore that the attorney had pleaded and remains guilty because the plea may eventually be vacated.

The Board  also sees fit to ignore the plain language of the Court's rules, which require suspension on a plea of guilty (emphasis is  mine):

Rule XI, section 10(b) Upon the filing with this Court of a certified copy of the record or docket entry demonstrating that an attorney has been found guilty of a serious crime or has pleaded guilty or nolo contendere to a charge of serious crime, the Court shall enter an order immediately suspending the attorney, notwithstanding the pendency of an appeal, if any, pending final disposition of a disciplinary proceeding to be commenced promptly by the Board. Upon good cause shown, the Court may set aside such order of suspension when it appears in the interest of justice to do so...

Rule XI, section 10 (d) Upon receipt of a certified copy of a court record demonstrating that an attorney has been found guilty of a serious crime or has pleaded guilty or nolo contendere to a charge of serious crime, or any crime that appears to be a serious crime as defined in subsection (b) of this section, Bar Counsel shall initiate a formal proceeding in which the sole issue to be determined shall be the nature of the final discipline to be imposed. However, if the Court determines under subsection (c) of this section that the crime is not a serious crime, the proceeding shall go forward on any charges under the Rules of Professional Conduct that Bar Counsel may institute. A disciplinary proceeding under this subsection may proceed through the Hearing Committee to the Board, and the Board may hold such hearings and receive such briefs and other documents as it deems appropriate, but the proceeding shall not be concluded until all direct appeals from conviction of the crime have been completed.

The attorney here pleaded guilty to a felony serious crime -- that is why the Court suspended him.

Where on these facts does the board come up with the option of doing nothing except for advocating to vacate the interim suspension and referring the case as an original matter to Bar Counsel?

Maybe we should do nothing when any D.C. attorney is convicted of any crime. After all, there might be a pardon someday.

Click2 Houston had this brief report on the beneficiary of this gift

A Houston man was arrested on charges of improper photography. Investigators said he hid a camera at work and took photos of his colleague.

Officers arrested Darrell Fuller on Friday.

Court documents showed the victim spotted an inappropriate photo of herself on his computer.  She called police, and investigators said they found a hidden camera and more photos of her.

The case is In re Darrell Fuller and the Board report can be found at this link.

As the ABA Journal reports, it's been a good day for attorney upskirt photographers.

For the integrity of the profession, not so much. (Mike Frisch)

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/legal_profession/2014/04/the-district-of-columbia-board-on-finding-creative-ways-to-let-attorneys-off-the-hook-aka-the-board-on-professional-responsi.html

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