Friday, September 11, 2020

Time Served

The District of Columbia Court of Appeals accepted a recommendation for consent discipline

In this disciplinary matter, the Ad Hoc Hearing Committee (the Committee) recommends approval of a petition for negotiated attorney discipline. See D.C. Bar R. XI, § 12.1(c). The petition is based on the finding that Respondent’s conviction for making a false statement to obtain unemployment compensation did not constitute moral turpitude per se. The Committee found that “circumstances in which Respondent found herself [a “volunteer” for the Gray campaign who was paid a stipend] may not have been employment at all” within the meaning of the unemployment compensation statute.

Respondent acknowledged that she committed a misdemeanor crime in violation of D.C. Rules of Professional Conduct 8.4(b) and 8.4(c). The proposed discipline is a three-year suspension without a fitness requirement nunc pro tunc to  July 5, 2016, the date she filed her D.C. Bar R. XI, § 14(g) affidavit. 

Because more than three years has passed since the interim suspension and there is no fitness requirement, the effect of the order is that the attorney is reinstated.

The hearing committee findings are linked here.

The committee noted the passage of time

The record does not disclose any reason why nearly three years separates the Board reference to a hearing committee and the filing of a petition for negotiated discipline on July 18, 2019. Disciplinary Counsel suggested at the hearing that there were “many fruitless attempts to get information from the [g]overnment, and I know there were various negotiations with prior counsel. But I don’t have a set answer of any one thing that caused the delay.” Hearing Transcript (“Tr.”) 69

A sparse record

None of the checks drawn to the Respondent by the Gray campaign were included in the record. It appears that the Assistant Disciplinary Counsel responsible for this matter was changed during the period in which this matter was pending. According to present Disciplinary Counsel, there were “fruitless attempts to get information from the [g]overnment.” Tr. 69. The Petition states, “We [Disciplinary Counsel] were unable to obtain additional evidence from DOES or the U.S. Attorney’s office regarding Respondent’s criminal conduct.” Petition, ¶ IV(2), p. 6. There is no further evidence in the record on this point. Because nearly 10 years have passed since Respondent’s criminal conduct, and nearly five years since her misdemeanor guilty plea, enhancement of the record is not promising.

(Mike Frisch)

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