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Legal Profession Prof
We are law professors interested in topics of the legal profession and ethics.
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Glad to see you back to your old selves - blog on!
My comment on the bar discipline issue The Times-Picayune had a story on the bar discipline imposed on two of the named attorneys. A search of the D.C. Bar "find a member" function reveals that the third attorney was admitted in the District of Columbia in 1985. The district court opinion lays out a rather compelling disciplinary case against that attorney starting at page 56. So far as I am aware, no action has been taken with respect to her D.C. license. Perhaps the D.C. Bar Counsel is awaiting the outcome of the DOJ internal probe reported by the Times- Picayune. If so, my experience is that deferring the investigation of prosecutorial misconduct cases never serves the public interest. Having had a number of such cases, I rarely found the work of the DOJ Office of Professional Responsibility sufficiently helpful to justify the delay. (Mike Frisch)
In my experience with the people who serve in the bar disciplinary systems, some are the finest public servants; some are moral lepers. Unfortunately, it's the moral lepers who sometimes get promoted and end up in charge.
And Citizens United, Shelby County, Town of Greece? I respectfully object to both the hyperbole and hypocrisy.
In my view, history will regard Justice Scalia's demeaning invective as a debasement of judicial opinion writing and a model for what to avoid if one wishes to explain, educate and/or draw others to the author's views.
The major difference between the California and District of Columbia disciplinary systems is that the dysfunction in California is coming to light. D.C. proceeds in blissful and studied indifference to its undeniable flaws - every routine case that takes 8 - 10 years to resolve leads to a gentle tut-tut and then its back to business as usual.
Nicole: I have no information on the merits of this particular matter but can respond to the more general question. The public isn't protected by the operation of a standard of proof. It is protected when there is a vigorous, talented independent Bar Counsel armed with adequate resources to investigate serious and complex allegations of misconduct. The sad reality is that many jurisdictions don't have or want a truly effective disciplinary system. The systems that grant disciplinary authority to the organized bar tend to protect accused lawyers (there but for the grace of God go I). Bar Counsel goes after the lame, the halt and the thieves. More sophisticated cases involving conflicts or misconduct in litigation(the kind of cases that tend to involve larger firms) get shunted aside. This is exactly what many organized bars want. The blame ultimately should be assigned to the state high courts that enable this situation. Knowing what I know, it amazes me that attorney self-regulation has not only survived but prospers.