Washington Lawyer

Bar Counsel's Page: Don’t Get Caught in the Revolving Door

From Washington Lawyer, April 2001

By Joyce E. Peters

barcounsel2

Now that the new administration is starting to take shape, many lawyers in Washington are faced with transitions. Some are leaving government offices for the private sector; others are busily studying the Plum Book to see what sorts of political jobs might enable them to serve. Whichever way they go, lawyers in transition need to move carefully to avoid running amok of the many laws and ethical rules that accompany a trip through the revolving door.

Lawyers licensed in the District of Columbia who are leaving public service for the private sector should thoroughly familiarize themselves with Rule 1.11 (Successive Government and Private Employment) of the District of Columbia Rules of Professional Conduct and the cases that have interpreted this rule. Rule 1.11(a), adopted to deal specifically with lawyers moving from public office, includes lawyers leaving any of the three branches of government. The basic prohibition in Rule 1.11(a) provides:

A lawyer shall not accept other employment in connection with a matter which is the same as, or substantially related to, a matter in which the lawyer participated personally and substantially as a public officer or employee. Such participation includes acting on the merits of a matter in a judicial or other adjudicative capacity.

This language essentially embodies a basic conflict-of-interest rule for the transitioning public lawyer, just as Rule 1.10(b), which concerns imputed disqualifications, provides the counterpart for lawyers moving within the private sector.

The difficulty with Rule 1.11(a) lies in determining exactly what all of the various qualifiers-such as "the same as" or "substantially related to" or "participated personally and substantially"-mean in the context of a particular transition. Once that is determined, the balance of the rule describes what the lawyer is to do if he or she is disqualified by the Rule 1.11(a) prohibition.

Making a disqualification determination upon leaving public service is not always an easy matter. The District of Columbia Court of Appeals, however, provided guidance on interpreting the language "substantially related" in the context of revolving-door situations prior to the adoption of Rule 1.11(a) in Brown v. District of Columbia Board of Zoning Adjustment, 486 A.2d 37 (D.C. 1984) (en banc).

In Brown the court stated that if the former government employee "may have had access to information legally relevant to, or otherwise useful in" a subsequent representation, there was prima facie evidence of a substantial relationship between the two matters. 486 A.2d at 50. The judicial interpretation in Brown, which did not require actual receipt of information or actual use of that information, was adopted wholesale in Comment [4] to Rule 1.11(a), and reiterated with approval in In re Sofaer, 728 A.2d 625, 628 (D.C. 1999), petition for reh’g denied, No. 97-BG-1096 (Oct. 8, 1999), cert. denied, 120 S. Ct. 1555, 146 L. Ed. 2d 460 (2000).

In Sofaer the court noted, "The inquiry is a practical one asking whether the two matters substantially overlap." 728 A.2d at 628. As Bar Counsel pointed out, and the court adopted with approval, "A former government lawyer . . . is free to solicit the views of his or her former agency concerning the proposed private legal undertaking . . . or to consult with ethics advisers in his or her law firm . . . or with the Legal Ethics Committee of the Bar.…" Id. at 629. As the court pointed out, "The ’substantially related’ test by its terms, however, is meant to induce a former government lawyer considering a representation to err well on the side of caution." Id. at 628.

Any lawyer who is uncertain whether Rule 1.11(a) applies should certainly seek advice from one of these sources, and fails to do so at his or her peril. All federal agencies have ethics counselors designated pursuant to the authority of the Ethics in Government Act of 1978, see 5 U.S.C. app. 4, to assist the Office of Government Ethics and help their employees avoid the multitudinous ethics traps. Similar offices exist to assist those serving in both the judicial and legislative branches.

Equally important to the transitioning government lawyer is knowledge of the numerous conflict-of-interest laws and postemployment restrictions, many of which impose civil or criminal penalties for a violation. Title 18 of the United States Code contains numerous restrictions on executive branch employees in matters such as negotiating for nonpublic employment (section 208(a)); switching sides and communicating with or appearing before a U.S. official in a matter in which the employee participated personally and substantially (a permanent prohibition in section 207(a)(1)); or changing sides to handle a matter "actually pending" within the former employee’s responsibility during the employee’s final year (a two-year prohibition in section 207(a)(2)). Other restrictions in section 207(c) and (d) apply to former senior executive employees and other very senior employees. Restrictions in 18 U.S.C. § 207(e) extend similar restrictions to former congressional staff employees and former members of Congress; and depending upon the nature of the former government employee’s duties, a lawyer who served in the capacity of a procurement official needs to be aware of the restrictions in 41 U.S.C. § 423. These statutory provisions have caveats and limitations that need to be thoroughly researched by any transitioning lawyer.

Lawyers headed into the government have different but similar sorts of concerns. Those entering at top levels of the government will be confronted with official forms prepared by the Office of Government Ethics requesting financial and affiliation disclosures intended to identify potential conflicts that may exist from prior civilian activities. If conflicts are found, disqualifications or divestitures will be required. These issues, however, are usually handled with the assistance of designated ethics counselors following the regulations issued by the Office of Government Ethics and published in title 5 of the Code of Federal Regulations.

Lawyers leaving private practice, however, should also be thinking about obligations they owe the clients they are leaving behind. In making any transition, there will be unfinished projects, cases in progress, and clients whose interests must still be protected. Federal law imposes limitations on outside employment of certain noncareer employees under section 502 of the Ethics in Government Act, so lawyers transitioning into the government must curtail their practices, yet be careful not to prejudice their clients in any way as they turn over cases to successor counsel or transfer files to other lawyers.

Rule 1.16(a) recognizes that a lawyer shall withdraw if "the representation will result in violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct or other law," which may include the federal prohibitions on outside employment. Even apart from the language in Rule 1.16(a), Rule 1.16(b) permits a lawyer to withdraw if the withdrawal can be accomplished "without material adverse effect on the interest of the client." Rule 1.16(d) provides that a lawyer terminating representation

shall take timely steps to the extent reasonably practicable to protect a client’s interest, such as giving reasonable notice to the client, allowing time for employment of other counsel, surrendering papers and property to which the client is entitled and refunding any advance payment of fee that has not been earned.

     Particular care should be exercised in cases involving money, such as personal injury matters in which existing assignment and authorization documents may reflect agreements to reimburse third parties upon recovery, or estate matters requiring periodic reports to the court. Active files need to be complete for successor counsel; files on completed matters should be turned over to the client or retained to protect the client’s interest. Lawyers with trust account and other financial and property records should become familiar with Rule XI, section 19(f), of the District of Columbia Court of Appeals Rules Governing the Bar, and Rule 1.15(a), both of which mandate preservation of these records for a period for five years after slightly different events: distribution versus termination of representation. In fact, however, some records may need to be retained longer to protect the client’s interests if, for example, appeals are pending for an incarcerated client and a new trial could be ordered.

The issues raised by the revolving door are many, and there are many ways to get caught in the door, whether the lawyer is entering or leaving the government. Either way, the ethical lawyer who knows and adheres to the professional standards should pass through the door without a bump or a hitch.

Disciplinary Actions Taken by the Board on Professional Responsibility
In re Harnam S. Arneja. January 17, 2001. The board recommends that the court suspend Arneja for a year. Arneja, in connection with personal injury matters, commingled entrusted funds with his own, improperly asserted a retaining lien against clients’ files, failed to release clients’ files or to withdraw from representation after he was discharged, and engaged in conduct involving dishonesty by representing himself as the clients’ counsel in pleadings after he had been discharged.

In re Richard W. Balsamo. November 7, 2000. In a reciprocal matter from the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, the board recommends that the court suspend Balsamo for 30 days. The federal court suspended him for 30 days for repeated failures to meet court deadlines, incompetence, and engaging in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation and conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice in connection with his representation of appellants in a civil matter.

In re Timothy F. X. Cleary. November 14, 2000. In a reciprocal matter from Massachusetts, the board recommends that the court suspend Cleary for five years, with the requirement that he demonstrate fitness to practice law prior to reinstatement. Cleary resigned in Massachusetts while disciplinary charges were pending against him alleging neglect, intentional failure to pursue clients’ claims, engaging in conduct involving dishonesty, failure to withdraw in connection with two personal injury matters, and improper use of a trust account.

In re Robert C. Freed. December 12, 2000. In an original disciplinary matter in this jurisdiction and a reciprocal matter from the United States District Court for the District of Maryland, the board recommends that the court suspend Freed for 30 days, with the requirement that he demonstrate fitness to practice law prior to reinstatement. In an original disciplinary matter, the board found that Freed engaged in conduct that seriously interfered with the administration of justice by failing to respond to a Bar Counsel inquiry or to comply with a board order. In the reciprocal matter, the federal court suspended him indefinitely, with the requirement that he demonstrate fitness prior to reinstatement for failing to respond to a disciplinary charge.

In re James V. Hackney. November 7, 2000. The board recommends that the court disbar Hackney based upon his criminal conviction in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Indiana of four counts of wire fraud, a crime involving moral turpitude per se. According to the indictment, Hackney made false representations and promises with regard to investments in order to obtain money from investors and used the money for personal expenses.

In re T. Clarence Harper. December 12, 2000. In a reciprocal matter from Maryland, where Harper was disbarred, the board recommends that the court disbar him. Harper, who was never admitted in Maryland, engaged in the unauthorized practice of law by maintaining a second office in Maryland, soliciting clients and accepting referrals in Maryland cases, and maintaining trust and operating accounts for the Maryland office and cases. He also failed to represent clients diligently or to keep clients informed regarding the status of their cases, practiced law in a jurisdiction where doing so is a misdemeanor violation, committed a criminal act that reflects adversely on his fitness as a lawyer, and engaged in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice. The Maryland court has held that the sanction of disbarment, when applied to an attorney not admitted in that state, constitutes permanent exclusion from exercising in any manner the privilege of practicing law in Maryland.

In re Bridgette M. Harris-Smith (a.k.a. Bridgette M. Smith). November 17, 2000. In reciprocal matters from the Court of Appeals of Maryland and the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Maryland, the board recommends that the court suspend Harris-Smith indefinitely, with the right to apply for reinstatement after she is reinstated in the bankruptcy court or after the expiration of five years, whichever occurs first. Harris-Smith consented to an indefinite suspension in the bankruptcy court for engaging in a continuing pattern of misfeasance and nonfeasance that put her clients’ cases in jeopardy. The Court of Appeals of Maryland found that Harris-Smith, who is not licensed to practice law in Maryland, had engaged in the unauthorized practice of law by maintaining an office in that state, advertising her services in Maryland without stating that she was not licensed to practice there, and providing advice to clients that was not specifically limited to the bankruptcy practice in which she was authorized to engage. Harris-Smith also failed to refund unearned fees, to ensure that her staff did not reveal client confidences, or to notify clients of her receipt of funds belonging to the client. For her conduct the Maryland court suspended her for 30 days.

In re Clinton A. Jackson. November 14, 2000. The board recommends that the court disbar Jackson for misappropriating funds that were entrusted to pay a third-party medical provider, commingling entrusted funds with his own, and failing to maintain complete trust account records, to withdraw from a representation after discharge, or to protect a client’s interests after termination.

In re Alan E. Koczela. November 9, 2000. In a reciprocal matter from Virginia, the board recommends that the court revoke Koczela’s license to practice law, with leave to apply for reinstatement after the expiration of five years or after he is reinstated in Virginia, whichever occurs first. The Virginia court revoked Koczela’s license for engaging in deceit and theft and for failing to maintain complete records of entrusted funds, deposit entrusted funds into a trust account, communicate, or respond to a subpoena for client files improperly removed from his former law firm.

In re Michael C. Meisler. January 19, 2001. In a reciprocal matter from Florida, where Meisler was permanently disbarred, the board recommends that the court disbar him, nunc pro tunc to April 14, 1999. Meisler already had resigned in Florida while disciplinary proceedings were proceeding against him and was not eligible to apply for reinstatement for three years. Notwithstanding his resignation, he continued to practice law in Florida.

In re Roy Nerenberg. December 1, 2000. The board recommends that the court disbar Nerenberg on consent.

In re Kenneth E. Nielsen Jr. November 7, 2000. The board recommends that the court publicly censure Nielsen for engaging in conduct that seriously interferes with the administration of justice. Nielsen failed to respond to Bar Counsel’s request for information or to an order of the board directing him to respond to Bar Counsel. The board concluded that public censure, rather than a more severe sanction, was appropriate in this case because of Nielsen’s eventual, albeit untimely, cooperation with the disciplinary process and his lack of prior disciplinary record.

In re Charles W. Schoeneman. September 20, 2000. In a reciprocal matter from Virginia, the board recommends that the court revoke Schoeneman’s license, with leave to apply for reinstatement after he is reinstated in Virginia or after the expiration of five years, whichever occurs first. Schoeneman petitioned the Virginia court for leave to surrender his license to practice law in that state while disciplinary charges were pending against him. By operation of Virginia law, he is deemed to have admitted to the charges, which were filed under seal. The Virginia court granted his petition and revoked his license.

In re Douglas R. Thomas. December 15, 2000. The board recommends that the court disbar Thomas based upon his consent to disbarment in Maryland. Thomas acknowledged in his affidavit in support of his consent to disbarment that he could not successfully defend charges that he had misappropriated funds that had been entrusted to him to pay a third party.

Disciplinary Actions Taken by the District of Columbia Court of Appeals
In re Demetrios E. Anagnostiadis. January 11, 2001. In a reciprocal matter from Maryland, the court suspended Anagnostiadis indefinitely, with the right to apply for reinstatement after he is reinstated in Maryland or after the expiration of five years, whichever occurs first, and with reinstatement conditioned on his demonstration of fitness to practice law. Anagnostiadis consented to an indefinite suspension in Maryland while he was the subject of eight separate disciplinary matters charging him with misappropriation; commingling; engaging in a criminal act that reflects adversely on his fitness as a lawyer; engaging in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation and conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice; charging an unreasonable fee; incompetence; and failing to represent clients diligently, to communicate with clients, to explain matters to the extent required to permit clients to make informed decisions, to protect clients’ interests after termination of the representation, or to cooperate with a disciplinary authority.

In re Melvin C. Belli. January 25, 2001. In a reciprocal matter from California, the court suspended Belli for two years, nunc pro tunc to July 21, 1999, with the requirement that he demonstrate fitness to practice law prior to reinstatement. He may seek vacation of the sanction upon a showing that he has satisfied the requirements of probation imposed in California. Belli stipulated that he had negligently misappropriated funds entrusted to him on behalf of a family member. The California court suspended him for four years, stayed imposition of the sanction in favor of four years of probation with conditions and an actual suspension of one year (or until he makes restitution to the family member), and required him to demonstrate fitness to practice law prior to reinstatement if his actual suspension exceeds two years.

In re Matilene S. Berryman. December 28, 2000. The court, in connection with a probate matter, disbarred Berryman for misappropriating funds belonging to an estate, commingling estate funds with her own, engaging in conduct that seriously interfered with the administration of justice and conduct involving dishonesty, and preparing an instrument giving herself a testamentary gift from a client without first advising the client to consult other counsel.

In re Deloris A. Brown. November 13, 2000. In connection with reciprocal matters from California, the court suspended Brown and directed the Board on Professional Responsibility to determine the nature of the final discipline to be imposed. In one matter the California court suspended Brown for a year, with execution of all but 60 days of the suspension stayed, and placed her on probation for two years subject to conditions. In a second matter the California court suspended her for a year, with execution of suspension stayed, and placed her on probation for a year, subject to conditions. The California court recently accepted Brown’s voluntary resignation from the practice of law.

In re R. Rochelle Burns. December 7, 2000. The disciplinary proceeding resulting from a criminal matter from the District of Columbia Superior Court was dismissed.

In re Samuel E. Dixon Jr. December 14, 2000. The court disbarred Dixon in connection with a reciprocal matter from Connecticut. Dixon misappropriated entrusted funds that he had held on behalf of an estate, commingled estate funds with his own, took legal fees without prior authorization of the probate court, made false statements to heirs of the estate concerning the status of their inheritance, created a conflict of interest over funds in order to earn a fee, and handled a criminal matter for an heir without the requisite skill and knowledge. The Connecticut court suspended him for two years, with the requirement that he apply for readmission and, as a condition to consideration for readmission, take nine hours of continuing legal education courses and reimburse certain costs associated with the disciplinary proceeding. Rather than impose a sanction identical to that imposed in the Connecticut matter, the court accepted the Board on Professional Responsibility’s determination that the appropriate sanction in this jurisdiction is disbarment. In a second Connecticut matter, Dixon failed to provide a written contingent-fee agreement to a client or to hold settlement funds in trust pending resolution of a dispute between the client and predecessor counsel. The Connecticut court suspended him for nine months, to be served after completion of the two-year suspension in the first matter. The court deferred consideration of this second reciprocal matter until Dixon seeks reinstatement to the bar.

In re Frank T. D’Onofrio. January 4, 2001. In a reciprocal matter from New York, the court suspended D’Onofrio for two years, with the requirement that he demonstrate fitness to practice law prior to reinstatement. The New York court suspended him for two years for engaging in conduct that reflects adversely on his fitness to practice law and conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation by converting to his own use funds that had been entrusted to him to pay a third party; failing to notify a third party of his receipt of funds in which the party had an interest or to turn over to the party funds that he was entitled to receive; and engaging in a conflict of interest.

In re Gerard E. Evans. October 23, 2000. In a criminal matter from the United States District Court for the District of Maryland, where Evans was convicted of mail fraud and wire fraud, the court suspended him and directed the Board on Professional Responsibility to determine the nature of the final discipline to be imposed.

In re Nelson Joel Kline. January 18, 2001. The court suspended Kline based upon a claim of disability.

In re Michael V. Kuhn. December 28, 2000. In a reciprocal matter from Maryland, the court suspended Kuhn for 30 days, with the requirement that he demonstrate fitness to practice law prior to reinstatement. Kuhn consented to an indefinite suspension in Maryland for engaging in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice and for failing to provide competent representation, to pursue a client’s legal objectives, to represent the client diligently, to communicate with the client regarding the status the matter, or to cooperate with the disciplinary investigation.

In re Joseph T. Lilly. January 11, 2001. In a reciprocal matter from Maryland, the court suspended Lilly for six months, with the requirement that he demonstrate fitness to practice law prior to reinstatement. Lilly consented to an indefinite suspension in Maryland while disciplinary charges were pending against him alleging that, in connection with probate and personal injury matters, he made false statements of material fact in a disciplinary matter; engaged in the unauthorized practice of law while suspended; engaged in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice; and failed to provide competent representation, to represent clients diligently or promptly, to communicate with clients regarding their matters, to explain matters sufficiently to enable clients to make informed decisions, to protect clients’ interests upon termination, to turn over to a third party funds that the party was entitled to receive, or to cooperate with the disciplinary authorities in the investigation of those matters.

In re Matthew J. Marshall. November 22, 2000. The court disbarred Marshall for misappropriating entrusted funds, submitting fabricated documents and making false statements to Bar Counsel during its investigation of his conduct, and making false statements regarding his handling of the funds to his client and to third parties with an interest in the funds. Marshall argued that the misconduct was caused by an addiction to cocaine from which he has since been rehabilitated. In declining to impose a lesser sanction pursuant to its decision in In re Kersey, 520 A.2d 321 (D.C. 1987), the court distinguished Marshall’s cocaine addiction, which was brought about, at least initially, by his intentional violation of the law, from addiction to alcohol or legally prescribed drugs. The court instead held that in cases where any attorney’s misconduct warrants disbarment, an addiction to cocaine, which is brought about by the attorney’s intentional use of the drug, does not warrant the imposition of a lesser sanction. The court also found that Marshall was not eligible for protection under the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq., because by virtue of his misconduct, he is not a "qualified" member of the bar for whom a reasonable modification could be made. Thus, the court held, his disbarment does not constitute discrimination based upon his disability.

In re Roy Nerenberg. December 21, 2000. The court disbarred Nerenberg by consent.

In re Richard E. Painter. January 25, 2001. In a reciprocal matter from Maryland, the court disbarred Painter. The Maryland court disbarred Painter for extreme acts of domestic violence committed between 1978 and 1994, which constituted criminal acts that reflect adversely on his fitness as a lawyer and conduct that seriously interfered with the administration of justice.

In re John T. Phillips. January 25, 2001. In a reciprocal matter from Virginia, the court revoked Phillips’s license, with leave to seek reinstatement after five years or after reinstatement in Virginia, whichever occurs first. Phillips petitioned the Virginia court for leave to surrender his license to practice law while disciplinary charges were pending against him. By operation of Virginia law, Phillips is deemed to have admitted that, while acting as executor of an estate, he commingled entrusted funds with his own; disobeyed an obligation under the rules of a tribunal; engaged in conduct that seriously interfered with the administration of justice; and failed to maintain complete trust account records, to provide competent representation, or to represent a client diligently. The Virginia court accepted his resignation and revoked his license to practice law.

In re Van S. Powers. January 23, 2001. In a reciprocal matter from Maryland, where Powers consented to an indefinite suspension, with the requirement that he satisfy certain conditions following reinstatement, the court suspended him and directed the Board on Professional Responsibility to determine the nature of the final discipline to be imposed.

In re David D. Reynolds. December 14, 2000. The court suspended Reynolds for six months, nunc pro tunc to June 28, 1999, with the requirement that he demonstrate fitness to practice law prior to reinstatement. Reynolds was convicted in the Circuit Court of Arlington County, Virginia, of two counts of driving while intoxicated (DWI), one count of hit and run, and one count of eluding. The court accepted the Board on Professional Responsibility’s conclusion that Reynolds’s conduct constituted criminal acts that reflect adversely on his fitness as a lawyer, particularly when considered in the context of his four prior DWI convictions and his conviction and incarceration for violating the terms of court-ordered probation.

In re Donald G. Richards. December 28, 2000. In a reciprocal matter from Virginia, the court disbarred Richards. Richards, who admitted that he had misappropriated client funds over a nine-year period and had failed to maintain adequate records of entrusted funds, petitioned the Virginia court for leave to surrender his license to practice law in that jurisdiction while disciplinary charges associated with his conduct were pending. The Virginia court granted Richards’s petition and revoked his license.

In re K. Kay Shearin. December 28, 2000. In a reciprocal matter from Delaware, the court suspended Shearin for one year, nunc pro tunc to February 25, 1999, with the requirement that she demonstrate fitness to practice law prior to reinstatement. The Delaware court suspended Shearin for one year for making false statements of material fact to tribunals, engaging in undignified or discourteous conduct degrading to a tribunal, counseling or assisting a client in criminal or fraudulent conduct, filing claims for which there was no legal basis, failing to make reasonable efforts to expedite litigation, offering false evidence or assisting a witness to testify falsely, making a false statement of material fact or law to a third person, and creating a false public record in civil and bankruptcy matters.

In re Daniel J. Slattery Jr. January 25, 2001. The court disbarred Slattery for committing a criminal act (theft) that reflects adversely on his honesty, trustworthiness, and/or fitness as a lawyer and for engaging in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation. Slattery, while president of a fraternal organization, misappropriated more than $10,000 from a bank account over which he had fiduciary authority. He later concealed his actions from the organization and testified falsely under oath regarding his handling of the funds.

In re Charles F. Stow III. January 18, 2001. The court suspended Stow based upon a claim of disability.

In re William E. Sumner. November 22, 2000. In a reciprocal matter from Georgia, the court disbarred Sumner. Pursuant to Georgia court rules, Sumner’s failure to respond to probable-cause determinations and to formal complaints was deemed an admission of the facts and violations alleged in those disciplinary proceedings. In those matters Sumner was alleged to have misappropriated clients’ funds, neglected clients’ cases, and engaged in conduct involving dishonesty in connection with securities, corporate, real estate, and other matters.

In re Jeffrey C. Taylor. January 11, 2001. The court disbarred Taylor based upon his criminal conviction in the Circuit Court for Montgomery County, Maryland, of two counts of theft, one count of fraudulent misappropriation by a fiduciary, and one count of obstruction of justice, crimes involving moral turpitude per se.

In re Matthew J. Travers. December 28, 2000. The court suspended Travers for 90 days, with the requirement that he make restitution prior to reinstatement. Travers, while acting as attorney to the personal representative of an estate, took legal fees without prior court approval (an illegal fee) and engaged in conduct that seriously interfered with the administration of justice by refusing to satisfy a judgment against him as ordered by the court in a related civil matter.

In re Karl W. Viehe. November 22, 2000. The court disbarred Viehe for misappropriation; engaging in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation; and entering into a business transaction with a client without making the necessary disclosures to the client or obtaining the client’s written consent.

In re Robert N. Vohra. November 22, 2000. The court suspended Vohra for 30 days, stayed execution of the suspension, and placed him on probation with conditions for two years. Vohra, in connection with a corporate matter, failed to represent a client competently, to abide by the client’s directives concerning the objectives of the representation, to act with zeal or reasonable promptness, or to seek the client’s lawful objectives. He also engaged in conduct involving dishonesty in connection with his representations to the client and his law partners regarding the status of the matters and caused his law firm to obtain reimbursement from the client for costs that had not been incurred. The court accepted the Board on Professional Responsibility’s determination that Vohra, who suffered from depression during the period of misconduct, but has since recovered, had established the elements for a mitigation of sanction.

In re Jane L. Wagner. January 11, 2001. In a criminal matter from the Circuit Court of Fairfax County, Virginia, where Wagner was convicted of failing to stop after an accident, the court suspended her and directed the Board on Professional Responsibility to determine the nature of the final discipline to be imposed.

In re John R. Willett. October 30, 2000. The court dismissed a reciprocal matter from Virginia, where Willett was admonished. The Board on Professional Responsibility, in recommending that the court dismiss the proceeding, concluded that the misconduct found by the Virginia court does not constitute misconduct in the District of Columbia.

John T. Rooney, assistant bar counsel, and Sharon L. Bradford compiled and edited the foregoing summaries of disciplinary actions.

The Office of Bar Counsel compiled the foregoing summaries of disciplinary actions. Reports and recommendations issued by the Board on Professional Responsibility, as well as informal admonitions issued by the Office of Bar Counsel, are posted on the D.C. Bar Web site at www.dcbar.org. Court opinions are printed in the Atlantic Reporter and, for decisions issued since mid–1998, are also available online. To obtain a copy of a recent slip opinion, visit www.dccourts.gov/internet/opinionlocator.jsf. Please note that in some cases Bar members may have the same name. To confirm the identity of individuals who have been subject to discipline, contact the D.C. Bar Member Service Center at 202-626-3475 or membership@dcbar.org.