Monday, June 17, 2019

"A Lawyer's Self-Proclaimed Excellence Is Not A Mitigating Factor"

The New Mexico Supreme Court expressed its displeasure with an attorney 

In this disciplinary case the Court addresses the flagrant and intentional failure of Daniel M. Salazar (Salazar) to comply with the Rules of Appellate Procedure, among other rules and orders of this Court. This case came before the Court upon the recommendation of the Disciplinary Board (the Board) to sustain charges and impose discipline against Salazar for multiple violations of the Rules of Professional Conduct. The Board’s request centers on its conclusion that Salazar repeatedly failed to comply with certain Rules of Appellate Procedure relating to the timely filing of appellate pleadings...

The Board recommended a one-year deferred suspension of Salazar, during which time Salazar would be supervised on all appellate matters.

This Court adopted the Board’s findings and conclusions with one exception and modified the Board’s recommended discipline, indefinitely suspending Salazar for a period of no less than one year, effective thirty days from November 9, 2018.

Salazar’s history of disciplinary offenses relating to similar intentional misconduct and his refusal to acknowledge the wrongfulness of his conduct justified his prompt suspension. When Salazar failed to comply with both our order of suspension and the requirements for suspended attorneys under the Rules Governing Discipline, we held Salazar in contempt of court and increased his indefinite suspension to a period of no less than eighteen months.

He had a history

Between the two instances of prior misconduct described, Salazar violated the same four Rules of Professional Conduct at issue in these proceedings.

The court examined two incompetently-handled criminal appeals

Salazar’s practice of copying, wholesale, previous pleadings and presenting them as new documents meant to serve a new purpose further demonstrates his lack of competence.

And noted that he had practiced in violation of the court's suspension order

Two days before disciplinary counsel’s supplemental notice, Salazar filed a pleading asking to set aside and reconsider the December 19, 2018 order and decision of this Court. In that pleading, Salazar once again held himself out as a lawyer—a blatant violation of this Court’s order of November 9, 2018. He requested this Court, “by and through his attorney of record, The Law Office of Daniel M. Salazar ESQ., (Daniel M. Salazar, Esq.),” to reconsider our suspension order as he considered it “contrary to common sense and law.” Salazar argued that his successful trial record and “perceived excellence in other areas” should serve to mitigate the extent of his discipline. A lawyer’s self-proclaimed excellence is not a mitigating factor we consider when dispensing appropriate discipline for flagrant violations of the Rules of Appellate Procedure, the Rules of Professional Conduct, the Rules Governing Discipline, and perhaps most importantly, this Court’s order imposing discipline.

We strike Salazar’s motion as it was not filed by his counsel of record, but by “The Law Office of Daniel M. Salazar, ESQ.” We are deeply troubled that Salazar continues to represent himself as an attorney of record in any case, let alone his own disciplinary matter, at a time when he is indefinitely suspended from the practice of law in New Mexico. We affirm Salazar’s indefinite suspension for a period of no less than eighteen months from the effective date of his suspension as set forth in our November 9, 2018 order.

(Mike Frisch)

Bar Discipline & Process | Permalink


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