Thursday, February 1, 2018
The District of Columbia Board on Professional Responsibility recommends disbarment of an attorney for conviction of a crime of moral turpitude per se
Respondent was admitted on motion to the District of Columbia Bar on August 8, 2011. On May 17, 2017, Respondent was convicted in the Superior Court of Delaware of one count of Continuous Sexual Abuse of a Child, in violation of 11 Del. C. § 776; one count of Sexual Abuse of a Child by a Person in a Position of Trust, in violation of 11 Del. C. § 778A; and three counts of Unlawful Sexual Contact First Degree, in violation of 11 Del. C. § 769. Each of these offenses is a felony.
The legal standard for moral turpitude was established in Colson. The Court held that a crime involves moral turpitude if “the act denounced by the statute offends the generally accepted moral code of mankind[,]” if it involves “baseness, vileness or depravity in the private and social duties which a man owes to his fellow men or to society in general, contrary to the accepted and customary rule of right and duty between man and man[,]” or if the act is “contrary to justice, honesty, modesty, or good morals.” Id. at 1168 (citations omitted). The Court revisited the definition of moral turpitude in In re McBride, 602 A.2d 626 (D.C. 1992) (en banc) (McBride II), stating that “the idea of moral turpitude incorporates a revulsion of society toward conduct deeply offending the general moral sense of right and wrong.” Id. at 632-33. “Under the Colson and McBride II analysis of whether a crime or offense is one of moral turpitude, then, we examine whether the prohibited conduct is base, vile or depraved, or whether society manifests a revulsion toward such conduct because it offends generally accepted morals.” In re Sims, 844 A.2d 353, 361-362 (D.C. 2004)...
The Indictment and Verdict Form do not identify the particular subsection of § 778A under which Respondent was convicted and, therefore, the Board has examined the record to determine whether there is clear and convincing evidence that Respondent was convicted under § 778A(1). We find that there is. We looked to the language in the Indictment to attempt to identify the precise subsection under which Respondent was charged and convicted, and did not examine the conduct at issue. Count II of the Indictment charges that Respondent did intentionally have sexual contact involving act of Unlawful Sexual Contact [sic] by having the victim touch his penis and by touching the breasts, buttocks and vagina of K.S., a child who was 8 to 9 years old, a child who had not yet reached that child’s sixteenth birthday, caused the child to have sexual contact with the defendant and that defendant stood in a position of trust, authority or supervision over the child. This conduct is covered by § 778A(1) only. It is not covered by § 778A(2) or § 778A(3). The jury returned a guilty verdict on Count II, and thus, we conclude that Respondent was convicted under § 778A(1).
Having concluded that a conviction under § 778A(1) inherently involves moral turpitude, that Respondent was convicted under § 778A(1), and taking into account Respondent’s failure to submit any statement on the issue, the Board agrees with Disciplinary Counsel that Respondent’s conviction for intentional sexual contact with someone over whom he exercised authority is a crime involving moral turpitude per se and that he should be disbarred.
This case is In re Micah Smith.
The board did not cite to this applicable case that I prosecuted and wrote about in No Stone Left Unturned. The Bewig bar case is the most extreme example of how White Male Big Firm privilege works in both the criminal and disciplinary systems of the District of Columbia.
I also represented the bar in the en banc McBride case. (Mike Frisch)