Thursday, June 1, 2017

Paul Howes Reinstated In D.C.

The District of Columbia Court of Appeals has reinstated G. Paul Howes to practice in the wake of a high-profile disbarment imposed in 2012.

Respondent's misconduct is decidedly egregious and, though we have not yet sanctioned a prosecutor in like circumstances, it is a logical extension of our prior cases to find disbarment warranted over a lesser sanction. We are not dissuaded from our view that disbarment is the appropriate sanction, despite respondent's exceptions and request for a mitigated sanction, as there is clear and convincing evidence that respondent misused federal witness voucher funds, misled the court and defense counsel, and violated his duties as a prosecutor, resulting in substantial reductions in sentences for several convicted felons. Nor do we accept respondent's contention that his cooperation with Bar Counsel, the absence of prior discipline, the absence of personal financial gain, or the delay in the proceedings are mitigating factors which should preclude imposition of our most stringent sanction. Respondent's misconduct was significantly compounded by the protracted and extensive nature of the dishonesty involved. We conclude, for reason discussed below, that, on this record, disbarment is the appropriate sanction.

Senior Judge Nebeker dissented from the order granting reinstatement

Judge Nebeker would deny the motion to reinstate. Mr. Howes violated a most sacred code as an Assistant United States Attorney for which, in my view, there is no redemption. The gravamina of his misconduct should be held as an example to all AUSAs that what he did will, for his lifetime, be a bar to reinstatement. For a former AUSA this would not be excessive. It would be justice.

Disciplinary Counsel supported the petition for reinstatement. Associate Judges Glickman and Thompson voted in favor.

When Disciplinary Counsel supports reinstatement, the matter is submitted directly to the Court for consideration rather than traveling the path through a hearing committee and the Board on Professional Responsibility as provided in Rule XI, section 16

A petition for reinstatement by a disbarred attorney or a suspended attorney who is required to prove fitness to practice as a condition of reinstatement, which is uncontested by Disciplinary Counsel following a suitable investigation, may be considered by the Court on the available record and submissions of the parties. In every uncontested matter, Disciplinary Counsel shall submit to the Court a report stating why Disciplinary Counsel is satisfied that the attorney meets the criteria for reinstatement. The Court may grant the petition, deny it, or request a recommendation by the Board concerning reinstatement.

(Mike Frisch)

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