Saturday, December 18, 2010

No Disbarment Applies

Since the May 26, 2005, inception of Lawyer Kickers pro bono, the following quotation has appeared above in our header:
Well-connected local people probably don't get prosecuted as much. That's just endemic in government, including lawyers and judges. People don't like to prosecute their friends. - Professor John Corkery of the James Madison Law School in Chicago

Readers may find the following outcome interesting, if not credulity-stretching.

It involves a lawyer who, by pleading guilty in 2005 to making a false entry in financial records, avoided retrial on securities and bank fraud charges. Adelphia Communications Corporation founded by his father went bankrupt after the father and another son pilfered millions of dollars from the company and hid its debt from investors, prosecutors had alleged.

Father and son Timothy were convicted in June 2005. The father was sentenced to 15 years in prison. Timothy received a 20-year sentence. They lost an appeal in 2007.

Following the plea of the second son, a lawyer named Michael, the Court of Appeals in 2005 ordered the Board on Professional Responsibility to investigate whether he had violated D.C.’s moral turpitude law when he committed the federal record-keeping crime. The board found that violating the federal law did not, on its face, run afoul of the D.C. moral turpitude law, and referred the case to a hearing committee for full investigation to determine whether relevant facts supported a finding of moral turpitude.

The Court of Appeals found that “a formal contested hearing” by a hearing committee to determine whether the lawyer had committed moral turpitude “would be of little benefit.” It found that since the federal criminal proceeding had not determined that the lawyer-son knowingly signed false documents (a finding needed for moral turpitude), a separate inquiry by a hearing committee was not necessary.

On December 09, 2010, before the hearing committee conducted its full investigation, the D.C. Bar Counsel reached an agreement with Michael to a one year’s suspension of his law license.

OUTCOME (more): Rather than being disbarred, lawyer-son Michael was merely sanctioned for one year.