Thursday, January 21, 2021
A District of Columbia Hearing Committee recommends that a 30-day suspension with a fitness requirement be imposed for failures to respond to bar complaints
We find that Disciplinary Counsel has proven of by clear and convincing evidence that there is a serious doubt about Respondent’s ability to practice in accord with the Rules, and we thus recommend that he should be required to demonstrate his fitness to practice law prior to reinstatement. Having observed Respondent at the hearing and given his demeanor and testimony, the Committee finds that something is not right with Respondent. He ignored multiple requests for information about his conduct as a lawyer, and attempted to justify his non-response with a far-fetched assertion that his former law partner was intercepting his mail. Of course, that does not explain his failure to respond to the packet left at his home, or his failure to respond to the inquiries he acknowledged receiving by email. The Committee cannot diagnose the reasons for Respondent’s failures in this case because Respondent offered no explanation for his conduct. Thus, the record shows only that Respondent received numerous repeated requests from Disciplinary Counsel, yet failed to respond to a single one, and did not even attempt to offer an explanation for his failure.
We might be tempted to conclude that certainly, after this proceeding, Respondent would act differently if he received a disciplinary complaint in the future. But that would be sheer speculation, unsupported by any evidence in the record. Instead, the unbroken pattern of unexplained non-responsiveness described above compels the conclusion that Respondent would repeat his misconduct if he were to receive a similar inquiry in the future. A reinstatement hearing will afford Respondent the opportunity to present evidence that he will not repeat this misconduct in the future.