Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Does Mounted Rhinoceros Sale Conviction Violate Bar Ethics Rules?

There may be a paucity of precedent to aid in answering the question presented. 

The Nevada Supreme Court found that a misdemeanor conviction for selling a threatened species of wildlife was not a "serious crime" warranting interim suspension

This is a petition under SCR 111(4) concerning attorney Jack E. Buchanan, based on a conviction for selling a threatened species of wildlife in violation of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, 16 U.S.C. §§ 1538(a)(1)(G) and 1540(b)(1), and 50 C.F.R. § 17.11(h), a Class B misdemeanor. Buchanan self-reported the conviction to the State Bar as required by SCR 111(2). Because the conviction is not for a "serious crime" as defined in SCR 111(6), temporary suspension and referral for disciplinary proceedings are not mandatory. SCR 111(7), (8).

But referred the matter for a bar investigation

We are concerned, however, that the conduct Buchanan admitted to in his guilty plea agreement could support a violation of RPC 8.4(b) (commission of a criminal act that reflects adversely on honesty, trustworthiness, or fitness as a lawyer). Accordingly, we refer this matter to the Southern Nevada Disciplinary Board for any action it may deem warranted.

Justice Silver 

I dissent.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported

A Las Vegas criminal defense attorney has been ordered to pay a $25,000 fine after selling a mounted southern white rhinoceros, the Nevada U.S. attorney’s office announced Friday.

Jack Ely Buchanan, 37, had previously pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of violating the Endangered Species Act, designed to protect any species listed as endangered or threatened. In addition to the fine, Buchanan was sentenced on Jan. 10 to two years probation and 40 hours of community service.

In 2014, Buchanan sold the rhinoceros mount, which was made with real rhino hide and horns, to a Minnesota man for $6,500, according to court documents. The buyer had traveled to Las Vegas for the mount, and drove it home to Minnesota in a rented moving truck.

A few days later, according to the documents, Buchanan sent the buyer a transfer of ownership note that “falsely characterized” the transfer as “not for purposes of sale, but an in-kind donation of property.”

Rhinoceros horns are in high demand in Southeast Asia, according to the U.S. attorney’s office, and the illegal sale of rhino parts “fuel the lucrative black market and indirectly contribute to the illegal take of rhinos in the wild.”

The son of James “Bucky” Buchanan, a well-known Las Vegas attorney, Jack Buchanan took over his family’s private practice in 2009 after his father’s death in a car crash.

He has been licensed to practice in Nevada since October 2008, according to state bar records.

His father sounds like he was a fun guy

Buchanan spent most of his law practice as a defense attorney. He had a list of high-profile clients and a quick wit.

In an April 2005 interview with the Review-Journal, asked why he came to Las Vegas nearly four decades ago, Buchanan said it was mostly for the strippers.

The sentencing was also covered by KTNV.

The order in IN THE MATTER OF DISCIPLINE OF JACK E. BUCHANAN was issued yesterday.  (Mike Frisch)

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