Sunday, May 10, 2009

From This Moment On

An attorney who has been on interim suspension since April 1999 was prospectively disbarred by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. He had been suspended as a result of criminal charges involving multiple victims. In 2001, he was convicted of one count of rape, five counts of sexual assault and aggravated indecent assault, two counts of false imprisonment and simple assault, and endangering the welfare of a child. He was released from prison in February 2008 after serving a nine year prison sentence. In response to the bar charges, he refused to appear and asserted his innocence. The Disciplinary Board declined to recommend that he receive any credit for the decade of time served on interim suspension, and the court agreed. (Mike Frisch)

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The prospective nature of the disbarment would hardly make a difference in a case like this. He will never be reinstated, especially after both claiming innocence and refusing to appear before the board.

Cliff Tuttle
Pittsburgh Legal Back Talk

Posted by: Cliff Tuttle | May 11, 2009 5:14:09 AM

I am sure that Cliff is correct in his analysis of the prospects for reinstatement.

Posted by: Mike Frisch | May 11, 2009 7:09:33 AM

I’m not a mind reader and have no clue as to the facts behind the criminal conviction but I do see a certain sense to his refusing to appear.

Firstly, perhaps he saw the writing on the wall? It must have been obvious to him as it is to everyone else that with this fact pattern he was going to be disbarred. What were his alternatives, anyway? Appear and grovel in an attempt to retain some future possibility of being able to grovel again somewhere down the road for his law license? Appear and assert his innocence? Surely that would only have made the situation worse?

This case does highlight that dilemma. What is a convicted lawyer to do if he really believes himself innocent? Stand by his innocence knowing that by doing so he is guaranteeing that he will never practice again? Or lie admitting guilt knowing that that is the only way to eventually receive his law license back? Unfortunately, pleading “no contest” is never an option. Few jurisdictions still allow a lawyer to simply resign in the face of charges. The courts insist that you kowtow to their authority if you wish to practice before them and if you refuse, even if it is a refusal based upon principle – especially if it is a refusal based upon principle – then it is off to Siberia with you.

So perhaps this is his final act of thumbing his nose at the profession on the way out. But perhaps it also could be his taking the only realistic option to him given a personal conviction that he was innocent?


Posted by: FixedWing | May 11, 2009 8:28:16 PM

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