Tuesday, December 5, 2017
As a former but longtime disciplinary prosecutor in the District of Columbia, I am watching the calls for the disbarment of John Dowd with amusement.
I am no fan of Dowd, who I view as the perfect lawyer for Trump in style and temperament.
But anyone who seriously thinks that a 50 year member of the D.C. Bar with no prior record of discipline faces disbarment for breaching confidentiality or for authoring a tweet that ends up appearing to harm the client's interests (1) knows nothing about bar discipline; and (2) knows less than nothing about bar discipline in the District of Columbia.
Read this and weep from a case where the attorney had filed a motion to withdraw as counsel that grossly violated the duty of confidentiality
The broad commitment of the lawyer to respect confidences reposed in him is his talisman. Touching the very soul of lawyering, it rests upon a “privilege” which is that of the client, not that of the lawyer. Inaccurately described as the “lawyer's privilege against testifying,” the privilege of clients to bind their lawyers to secrecy is universally honored and enforced as productive of social values more important than the search for truth. Canon 4 is designed to preserve the trust of the client in his lawyer, without which the practice of law, whatever else it might become, would cease to be a profession...
We have no doubt that Gonzalez revealed his client's secrets, and an appropriate (if relatively modest) sanction is called for. Accordingly, Bar Counsel is hereby directed to issue an informal admonition to Gonzalez.
ESPN Baseball reported in 1999 on a bar complaint against Dowd filed by Major League Baseball
Dowd revealed that the commissioner's office filed a complaint against him with the District of Columbia bar about 1½ years ago in an attempt to keep him from speaking publicly about the Rose case.
"They said I was breaching confidences," Dowd said. "It was summarily dismissed. It's a rough crowd there these days in baseball."
Robert DuPuy, baseball's executive vice president of administration and chief legal officer, distanced the sport from Dowd's views.
"We do not solicit his comments nor do we endorse them," he said. "We would prefer that Mr. Dowd refrain from commenting on his representation of the office of the commissioner. He is no longer engaged by this office and he has completed his work. We don't look for his guidance in this whatsoever.
Another bar complaint against Dowd filed on behalf of George Steinbrenner was reported by the New York Times
Besides periodic comments from the owner that he was denied due process, that the commissioner's investigation was conducted unfairly and that the "truth will come out," the Steinbrenner forces have waged a legal assault and, major league officials believe, a whispering campaign against Vincent and John Dowd, the Washington lawyer who led the investigation of Steinbrenner.
Two of the Yankees' minority partners filed a lawsuit in Cleveland in August trying to block Steinbrenner's removal as managing partner, the Yankees' chief operating officer has sued Vincent and Dowd, and Steinbrenner has sued a court reporter for allegedly tampering with transcripts of the owner's deposition before Dowd. Furthermore, Paul Curran, Steinbrenner's lawyer, has filed a complaint against Dowd with the Washington bar association [sic].
The D.C. Bar web page shows that he was admitted in June 1967 (when admission was governed by the United States District Court) and has no record of discipline. (Mike Frisch)