Thursday, May 8, 2014
Another good day for D.C. bar discipline.
The District of Columbia Court of Appeals accepted a consent disposition and imposed a one-year suspension in a matter involved serious dishonesty
This violation stems from [the attorney's] representation of an international client and submission of a questionnaire to the United States Department of Commerce. Specifically, respondent failed to disclose significant alterations to a sales contract, which he acknowledged the Department of Commerce would view as material facts and the lack of disclosure tainted the original decision issued in that matter.
The court (in my view) correctly applied the standard of review
We agree with the Committee’s recommendation because it properly applied D.C. Bar XI 12.1 (c) to arrive at this conclusion and we find no error in the Committee’s determination. Furthermore, the Committee considered the aggravating and mitigating circumstances of the disciplinary events including Bar Counsel’s concession that "it was less than diligent" in investigating this case, and the fact that respondent had no prior or subsequent disciplinary history and found that the negotiated discipline – a one-year suspension – was not unduly lenient and falls within the range of discipline imposed for similar actions.
This is important because there are a wide array of sanctions imposed in cases involving dishonesty -- from informal admonition to disbarment.
Consent dispositions will work (and be pursued more often) when the court trusts that the hearing committees are exercising meaningful oversight of the process.
Before we get too excited, however, it should be noted that the docket number of the bar's case is 2003-D388. To an insider, that means that it took eleven years to get this case resolved by consent and explains the "less than diligent" concession.
Money quote from the Legal Times coverage
"We should have done better,” said Bar Counsel Wallace Shipp Jr. He declined to discuss the details of Saito’s case.
The hearing committee report can be found at this link by entering the name Yoshihiro Saito. (Mike Frisch)