Friday, October 23, 2020
The District of Columbia Board on Professional Responsibility held an oral argument yesterday in a matter involving allegations that two Assistant United States Attorneys violated their ethical obligation of disclosure to the defense.
This oral argument is worth watching as it shows the D.C. discipline system at its best.
The quality of the oral advocacy is outstanding from Disciplinary Counsel (who argued the case himself) and for both Respondent attorneys.
Disciplinary Counsel made the argument that withholding exculpatory that could lead to a wrongful conviction is the most serious of rule violations.
Many BPR members clearly had wrestled thoughtfully with the record and were engaged with the issues.
And for a bonus - the hearing committee report was issued on June 18, 2020. The BPR received briefs and conducted the oral argument in four months.
That is nothing short of lightning speed.
The bad news - Disciplinary Counsel docketed the matter for investigation in 2014.
The Hearing Committee report can be found here.
The hearing committee majority proposed a 30-day suspension of both attorneys as we reported when the report was issued.
The non-attorney hearing committee member favored an informal admonition.
The video of the oral argument is linked here. Click on the October 22, 2020 BPR session. (Mike Frisch)