Friday, July 8, 2022

Prior Lack Of Discipline No Bar To Disbarment

A two-year suspension was increased to disbarment by the Michigan Attorney Discipline Board

Here, “absence of a prior disciplinary record” is the sole mitigating factor presented and should not have been given so much weight under the circumstances. The misconduct found in this case involves multiple instances of neglecting client matters and failing to protect client interests, engaging in dishonest conduct, commingling and misappropriating client funds, and the misuse of an IOLTA. In addition, respondent failed to participate in his disciplinary proceedings by failing to timely answer requests for investigation, continuously made misrepresentations to the Attorney Grievance Commission, failed twice to appear for his statement under oath, failed to answer the Formal Complaint, and failed to appear at the discipline hearings.

In addition, there were also extensive aggravating factors present here: dishonest or selfish motive [9.22(b)]; pattern of misconduct [9.22(c)]; multiple offenses [9.22(d)]; bad faith obstruction of the disciplinary process [9.22(e)]; submission of false evidence, false statements, or other deceptive practices during the disciplinary process [9.22(f)]; refusal to acknowledge the wrongful nature of the conduct [9.22(g)]; vulnerability of the victims [9.22(h)]; substantial experience in the practice of law [9.22(I)]; and indifference to make restitution [9.22(j)].

With regard to mitigation sufficient to justify a downward departure from the disbarment standard, there simply is none. This case is not unlike the many others in which a lawyer has been disbarred for intentionally converting client funds. Although it is true that respondent lacks a prior disciplinary record, given the seriousness of respondent’s misconduct here, such mitigation is insufficient, particularly in light of the aggravating factors. See Hadden, supra; Grievance Administrator v Tyslenko, 12-17-GA (ADB 2013). Accordingly, we increase the discipline imposed to disbarment.

(Mike Frisch)

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