Thursday, May 26, 2022
The District of Columbia Court of Appeals has disbarred an attorney based on findings of "flagrant dishonesty."
The case involved charging an excessive fee
The Board’s factual findings regarding Rule 1.4(b) [sic 1.5(b)]were that Johnson accepted a fee above the statutory cap of twenty percent of the total award his client received, and for a small amount of work actually performed and at rates not normally permitted in workers’ compensation cases. There is substantial evidence in the report to support the Board’s factual findings. We reference the factual findings regarding Rule 1.4(b) mentioned above and reiterate that they are substantial evidence that Johnson charged and accepted a fee prohibited by D.C. Code.
we hold that they constitute a violation of Rule 8.4(c). First, submitting a patently false fee petition implies an intent to deceive the D.C. government. At the very least, it evinces a lack of honesty. Second, Johnson’s characterization of his representation of H.G. to Mr. Levi was dishonest. Third, his responses to Mr. Levi’s questions were the opposite of fair and straightforward. Any of these would violate Rule 8.4(c), and together they paint a picture of flagrant dishonesty.
Despite what Johnson states, there is no evidence that the wrong attorney was investigated.
Because the Board’s factual findings are supported by substantial evidence, we are required to adopt them. Reviewing the Board’s legal conclusions de novo, we conclude that they are consistent with our precedent. Because disbarment for
flagrant dishonesty is consistent with our prior decisions, and because it is warranted in Johnson’s case, we adopt the Board’s recommendation.