Saturday, October 19, 2019

No Reciprocal Discipline For Tribal Court Sanctions

The Michigan Attorney Discipline Board has held that tribal court sanctions do not form a basis for reciprocal discipline. 

On December 3, 2018, the Grievance Administrator filed a notice of filing of reciprocal discipline with this Board, and requested a hearing to determine the appropriate Michigan sanction for the sanction the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Edawa Indians Tribal Court imposed in a December 29, 2014 Opinion and Order Granting LTBB ' s Request for Relief on S. Garrett Beck's Citation for Contempt. This order revoked respondent's right to practice law before the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Edawa Indians Tribal Court because of respondent's "disregard for candor, forthrightness or integrity in communications and advocacy[,]" and "because his underlying contempt charges involved the use of shell corporations to disguise this behavior, any current or future affiliates of Mr. Beck should also be denied the privilege to practice law in the LTBB Court." A formal complaint was also filed by the Grievance Administrator, charging respondent in Count One with failing to report the tribal court's order of discipline.

In response

respondent filed a motion for summary disposition of the reciprocal discipline, arguing that the revocation of his license to practice law before a tribal court is not a ground for the imposition of reciprocal discipline under MCR 9.120(C).

The motion was granted by the hearing panel. The Grievance Administrator sought interlocutory review.

The board

A tribal court is neither a court of record nor a body authorized by law or by court rule to conduct disciplinary proceedings against Michigan attorneys. The application of MCR 2.165 does not change this result. The language of MCR 9 . 120(C)(1 ) is quite plain and unambiguous as to when a tribunal's order may serve as a basis for reciprocal discipline.

The dismissal is without prejudice to any action brought by the Administrator based on the underlying conduct. (Mike Frisch)

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