Thursday, May 2, 2019
Busy D.C. Discipline Day
The District of Columbia Court of Appeals devoted a day to bar discipline, issuing six opinions that include accepting an 18-month consent discipline and a number of reciprocal discipline matters .
One of the reciprocal matters - involving a 60-day suspension from Maryland - is somewhat noteworthy.
The court agreed with Disciplinary Counsel and increased the sanction
[the attorney] is hereby suspended from the practice of law in the District of Columbia for a period of six months nunc pro tunc to April 18, 2019. Reinstatement is conditioned on the completion of the two-day Basic Training and Beyond Course conducted by the D.C. Practice Management Advisory Service. Disciplinary Counsel has established by clear and convincing evidence that the facts affirmed by the court in her Maryland disciplinary proceeding would result in a substantially different discipline in this jurisdiction. Respondent was found to have negligently misappropriated entrusted funds, commingled personal and entrusted funds, failed to keep adequate records, inadequately represented a client, and committed unauthorized practice of law. In this jurisdiction, negligent misappropriation of entrusted funds would require a six-month suspension and the completion of continuing legal education.
The harmonization of discipline for attorneys admitted in both Maryland and the District of Columbia (a no doubt sizable population) often leads to reduced D.C. sanctions for conduct involving dishonesty (Maryland being demonstrably tougher) and, as here, increased sanctions for mishandling entrusted funds (where D.C. has essentially mandatory minimum suspensions for six months for negligent misappropriation).
Ironically, the attorney was sanctioned in Maryland despite never having been admitted there. (Mike Frisch)