Friday, August 26, 2011
Looking at the news summaries for the week that the ABA emails me on Fridays too early, I have noticed that Mike's posts got hat-tipped a lot by the ABA Journal and its blog. That has happened regularly since he started systematically blogging bar discipline here (or they hat-tip a blog that itself traces back to this blog), plus many other sources and news services have picked up on his leads since 2006. Of course we've been happy with all that and are not complaining, and there is nothing wrong with their doing so (to their credit, they hat-tip). I just note that this week they seem to be especially relying on his uncovering issues and filings re ethics. While this is a blog and not a newspaper as such, and we do not purport to be journalists, there is extra value (beyond the many other things he accomplishes on this blog) to getting the journalistic ball rolling by uncovering publicly available (but often obscurely disseminated) state ethics reports. That ball is Mike. Please keep it up--or else at the very least the ABA Journal and its blogs would have fewer pages and pixels. True, I blog here too, and valuable contributions by Jeff and Bill have also been picked up on and fill the blog-iverse, but I'm sure they'd agree with me that it is nothing close to the regular and firm reliance people have come to place upon Mike. Just sayin'. [Alan Childress]
Friday, February 4, 2011
Well, almost. This blog, due I am sure to Mike's content and tenaciousness (and oh those headlines), was named Blog of the Month by Penn State. Here. Let's hope Mike has a less frilly outfit than last year on the red carpet. TMZ was brutal. [Alan Childress]
Sunday, June 6, 2010
Sunday, September 13, 2009
Friday, April 27, 2007
One of my traditions in teaching professional responsibility is to show a film called "Legal Heroes" by Larry Dubin in the last class. It is the inspiring story of three lawyers of diverse backgrounds who made remarkable contributions to the cause of social justice. Watching the film last night called to mind my own legal hero, Father Robert Drinan. I encourage readers to take note of the flood of remembrances that came after we lost Father at the beginning of this semester. His impact on so many from all walks of life is an inspiration to all of us. He is greatly missed and dearly loved.
The other legal hero who has inspired me throughout my professional life is Professor Sam Dash. Sam was not just a legend in the law. He was a courageous champion of the less fortunate in society who battled injustice all over the world. He was also as dedicated and popular a teacher as I have ever known. His international stature did not make him in any way remote or inaccessible to his colleagues and students -- like Father Drinan, he was as loved as he was respected. (Mike Frisch)
Thursday, October 19, 2006
by Mike Frisch
Those who have read my article evaluating the District of Columbia attorney discipline system in the Georgetown Journal of Legal Ethics know that I have serious concerns that attorneys who violate ethics rules receive treatment that is far too lenient. A recent example of this unfortunate trend is a hearing committee report in In re Hewitt, Bar Docket No. 374-04, decided on September 21, 2006. The report is not available in electronic form, but is a public document that can be obtained from the Board on Professional Responsibility, 202-638-4290.
The case involves misappropriation, a lawyer term thay means theft of entrusted funds. The attorney had been appointed as conservator for a person unable to care for himself. The attorney had control of the ward's assets, including a banking account. For a period of years, all went well, with the lawyer performing the work and being paid by seeking and obtaining court approval, as required by statute. In 2001, The attorney filed a petition for court approval of his fees, but did not bother to wait for it, removing over $2000 on the day the petition was filed. His excuse was his concern that the ward would lose Medicaid eligibility for having too many assets if he did not take money for himself.
The Probate Court denied the petition for fees, finding that the lawyer's activities were "not legal in nature nor compensible as attorney's fees." The lawyer claimed not to have received the order and thereafter failed to file a required account that would have disclosed what he had done. Over a year later, the attorney responded to a court order to show cause why he should be removed, claimed he then learned that the court denied his request for compensation and repaid the money.
The hearing commitee questioned the court's authority to deny compensation (which is the court's job by law and statute), believed every aspect of the lawyer's story, criticized Bar Counsel (always a good reason to be lenient) and suggested that the attorney had taken and used the ward's money for over a year due to a sincere desire to act in the ward's best interests. It also seemed to think that a single theft was no big deal. They recommend probation.
Ah, self-regulation! It's great for lawyers.
Wednesday, October 4, 2006
My name is Mike Frisch. This is my first venture into the intimidating world of blogging. As a former longtime prosecutor of Bar discipline cases in the District of Columbia as well as a professor teaching professional responsibility courses at Georgetown University Law Center, I am grateful to have a forum to discuss my primary concern about regulation of the legal profession, namely that the public interest in an honorable and ethical profession is too often subordinated to "the parochial or self-intersted concerns of the bar." ABA Model Rules, Preamble at comment 12. It is my intention to stimulate discussion about the regulatory regimes of the various state bars in aid of heightened public awareness and to encourage reform where necessary to the public interest. I look forward to input from around the country of persons who either share or wish to dispute my concerns.