Monday, April 16, 2018

Second Chances

There is a Rule in the District of Columbia that permits reinstatement of disbarred attorneys without any public notice or hearing if the petition is not opposed by Disciplinary Counsel. In such matters, if the Court of Appeals agrees, notice is only given when the license to practice is returned.

Scooter Libby was the recipient of such favorable treatment. 

Perhaps the public interest would have been served by a hearing on the merits prior to reinstatement. 

Kevin Sabo, who gained some recent notoriety as an official of the present Administration for his views on Parkland shooting survivors- was reinstated after a hearing with the full support of Disciplinary Counsel.

The reason he was not automatically reinstated?

The court rejected that option and required a hearing

Petitioner Kevin Sabo, an attorney disbarred by this court on consent in 2003 following his felony conviction of attempted malicious wounding, seeks reinstatement as a member of the Bar of the District of Columbia. Upon receiving Bar Counsel's report not contesting Mr. Sabo's petition for reinstatement, we referred this matter to the Board on Professional Responsibility (the “Board”) for its recommendation, which in turn referred the matter to a Hearing Committee for fact-finding. Following an evidentiary hearing and briefing, the Hearing Committee recommended reinstatement, a position Bar Counsel did not oppose. The Board disagreed and opposed Mr. Sabo's reinstatement. We agree with Bar Counsel and the Hearing Committee that Mr. Sabo has demonstrated his fitness to resume the practice of law. Accordingly, we grant his petition for reinstatement.

He had a past notoriety as well - a conviction and prison sentence for cutting the brakes of his ex-girlfriend's car.

Senior Judge Steadman dissented 

At this time, I would deny reinstatement, substantially for the reasons set forth by the Board in its conscientious report and recommendation. Mr. Sabo has the right to maintain his innocence, but it does not seem to me that the Board is unreasonable in asking for a full and complete exposition for this position. Such an exposition would not be to retry the conviction but rather to provide a total picture of Mr. Sabo's present state of mind vis-a-vis the conviction and its surrounding circumstances. Likewise, given the unquestioned concern that any lapse in therapy could have serious consequences and the “red flag” event of 2009, it seems quite reasonable for the Board to require a “longer track record of compliance, without incident.” Mr. Sabo was unable to convince a single one of the nine members of the Board that he had shown by “clear and convincing evidence” his entitlement to reinstatement, nor, by the same standard, has he yet convinced me.

We made the point in this April 2017 post

Because the Office of Disciplinary Counsel did not object, the District of Columbia Court of Appeals has summarily (without any hearing) reinstated convicted felon David Savafian.

 On consideration of Disciplinary Counsel’s report regarding petitioner’s petition for reinstatement wherein Disciplinary Counsel informs the court that Mr. Safavian has demonstrated that he is fit to resume the practice of law, and it appearing that petitioner is eligible to file the petition for reinstatement, see In re Safavian, 29 A.3d 479 (D.C. 2011), it is

ORDERED that petitioner’s petition for reinstatement is granted. It is

FURTHER ORDERED that David H. Safavian is hereby reinstated to the Bar of the District of Columbia.

The panel consisted of Associate Judges Beckwith and Glickman and Senior Judge Farrell.

When Disciplinary Counsel favors reinstatement and the Court does not object, the first notice received by the public is the order of reinstatement itself.

Having recently given the same free pass to Scooter Libby and Abramoff associate Robert Coughlin, it would appear that sympathetic understanding for convicted Republicans is a core value in the D.C. Office of Disciplinary Counsel.

Fear not, Kellyanne. 

Note that there was a change last year in the leadershipp of the office. (Mike Frisch)

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