Washington Lawyer

Bar Counsel: “When You Come to a Fork in the Road . . .”

From Washington Lawyer, April 2005

By Joyce E. Peters

Illustration by Mick Wiggins

“Take it,” says Yogi Berra. He also says, “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.”

Any fan of baseball probably knows dozens of Yogi Berra’s humorous sayings. Many have nothing to do with baseball, but most catch the ear with a curious word or non sequitur phrase.

It’s not tough to make predictions about attorney discipline. The District of Columbia Court of Appeals created a disciplinary system more than 30 years ago when it adopted D.C. Bar Rule XI, and that system has served the D.C. Bar and the District of Columbia well. Yet, as the practice of law changes and evolves, the disciplinary system also tends to change, so there are a few forks in the road ahead. Several important forces now at work will likely change the future course of attorney discipline: potential changes in the D.C. Rules of Professional Conduct, potential changes in the disciplinary process itself, and changes in the personnel operating the system.

It’s not difficult to make a few predictions about the future of the disciplinary system, as it evolves through a careful and thoughtful process of case decisions and rule changes. Recently, the court, after careful consideration of proposed changes to the rules recommended by the D.C. Bar, as the result of a study done by its Multidisciplinary Practice Committee, decided not to change the rules to permit greater multidisciplinary practice by lawyers licensed here. The D.C. rules already are unique among other states’ rules in allowing some multidisciplinary practice (and sharing of fees with nonlawyers) in carefully defined circumstances under Rule 5.4(b). However, the court chose not to expand permissible activity further. The court concluded that further relaxation of Rule 5.4 was not warranted, expressing concerns over the effect of the proposed change on basic attorney–client relationships (client confidentiality, conflicts of interest, and attorney–client privilege), the lack of any demonstrated or pressing need for the change, the lack of support for such a rule change in other jurisdictions that had considered the issue, the difficulties that might arise for lawyers trying to use the proposed new rules, and the potential burden on Bar Counsel and the disciplinary system if the new rules were adopted.

Although the court chose not to adopt the Bar’s recommendation on multidisciplinary practice, there are two other significant pending change recommendations that may affect how lawyers practice in the District of Columbia. The D.C. Bar Multijurisdictional Practice Committee has completed its work and the court will consider its recommendations soon. In addition, the D.C. Bar Disciplinary System Study Committee is examining how the disciplinary system operates, and it too will be making recommendations for changes in the disciplinary process.

Unlike issues involving multidisciplinary practice, which would affect only a few lawyers practicing solely in the District of Columbia, the multijurisdictional practice recommendations could have ramifications for many lawyers practicing here. The District of Columbia already permits some multijurisdictional practice under D.C. Appeals Rule 49, which defines unauthorized practice of law and contains a number of exceptions that carve out the limits of multijurisdictional practice. The Multijurisdictional Practice Committee, recognizing the authority already granted by Rule 49, has recommended some refinements to clarify its reach. In addition, one recommendation of the committee—to extend the court’s disciplinary authority to include lawyers not licensed in the District of Columbia but lawfully engaged in multijurisdictional practice here1—has been referred to the Disciplinary System Study Committee for consideration. As with any recommended rule changes, the court will solicit comments from the legal community, study the Bar’s recommendations for multijurisdictional practice, and then decide what changes, if any, should be made.

Meanwhile, the Disciplinary System Study Committee is looking at issues affecting the disciplinary system, such as whether to permit negotiated disciplinary dispositions, how more effectively to resolve reciprocal disciplinary matters, what action is appropriate when lawyers are recalcitrant in responding to disciplinary inquiries, and how to improve the reinstatement process. The recommendations from this committee, if adopted by the court, could significantly affect how disciplinary matters are handled over the next decade. This is a fork that is still out of sight beyond a bend in the road.

Over the past five years that I have been bar counsel, I have observed the evolutionary nature of the cases that the court decides. Cases often appear to be anecdotal; that is, each one seems unique and unlike any other. Yet the court carefully evaluates the facts in each case, compares and contrasts those facts with earlier cases, and strives for consistency in its findings and sanctions. In doing this the court develops the body of disciplinary case law, giving notice to the Bar of changes in its interpretation of the rules and illuminating how the rules are to be applied.

Since I have been bar counsel, the court has decided numerous disciplinary cases affecting how lawyers practice and how they are sanctioned. For example, in determining the appropriate sanction, the court decided that addiction to an illegal drug (cocaine) does not entitle the lawyer to mitigation of sanction.2 The court reiterated its prior opinion, In re Addams,3 that the usual sanction for misappropriation is disbarment unless that misappropriation results from nothing more than simple negligence.4 The court concluded that a lawyer’s repeated recalcitrance in failing to respond to Bar Counsel may result in a suspension with a fitness requirement.5 The court opined that disgorgement could be appropriate as a sanction.6 And the court concluded that Bar Counsel’s informal admonitions could be considered in determining the range of sanctions for a particular violation.7

As for individual rules of the D.C. Rules of Professional Conduct, the court interpreted Rule 1.6, concerning confidences and secrets, to impose discipline on a lawyer for revealing the secrets of his client in a motion to withdraw.8 In the same case the court, using Rule 8.5, on choice of law, applied Virginia rules to a D.C. lawyer licensed and practicing before a Virginia court.9 The court has decided a number of a cases in which Bar Counsel charged failure to cooperate in disciplinary investigations under both Rules 8.1(b) and 8.4(d), and the court has concluded that both rules may be applied in those cases.10 In several cases the court has also interpreted Rule 1.7, on conflict of interest, and Rule 5.1(a) and (c), on failure to supervise, to discipline large-firm lawyers for misconduct,11 and it has applied Rule 1.8 to disbar a lawyer who dishonestly arranged loans for himself from an elderly probate client.12

The court has also decided dozens of reciprocal cases, reaffirming its preference for identical reciprocal discipline, particularly when the respondent lawyer does not participate,13 clarifying that license revocations in Virginia are equivalent to disbarments in the District of Columbia,14 and refusing to let issues not raised before the Board on Professional Responsibility be asserted for the first time before the court.15 Reciprocal cases are often particularly difficult cases because the record from the other jurisdictions, especially when negotiated procedures are used, may be limited. Nonetheless, the court has asserted that a lawyer may not retry a reciprocal matter here once discipline has been imposed in another jurisdiction.16

These are but a few examples of the court’s decisions over the past five years. The court, however, still has many pending issues to consider and decide. For example, the court has cases pending that question when Rule 8.5 (choice of law) should be applied in reciprocal matters, when discipline from a sister jurisdiction imposed by other than the highest court may result in reciprocal discipline, and whether a new test proposed by the board should be used to determine if fitness should be part of the sanction. As these cases are decided, they will become part of the ever-developing body of disciplinary law.

Yogi Berra once said, “You give 100 percent in the first half of the game, and if that isn’t enough, in the second half you give what’s left.” He also quipped, “I don’t want to make the wrong mistake.” And I agree.

When I arrived as Bar Counsel in 2000, the Legal Times trumpeted that the new bar counsel was an unknown soldier. I think there are many who have gotten to know this unknown soldier over the past five years—some through the activities of the Bar, others fortunately and unfortunately through the operation of the disciplinary system. Recently, on January 19, the U.S. Army Women’s Museum at Fort Lee, Virginia, opened an exhibit on women pioneers in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps, and I was one of five lawyers featured for my leadership and service to the Army and its legal community. So too, as the first female bar counsel, the trail before me was unmarked, and there were many forks in the road to take. But like any soldier, there comes a time to pack up and move on. Whenever the leader of an organization changes, the direction and philosophy of the organization changes as well. So that, too, will create another fork in the road of the disciplinary system.

It has been a unique experience to serve as bar counsel—a position that strikes fear and anger in the hearts of some lawyers, draws respect from others, engenders hope from suffering complainants, but always remains sui generis in the legal system of the District of Columbia. Working with the court and its staff, the lawyers and staff in the Office of Bar Counsel, the Board on Professional Responsibility and its hearing committees, the board staff, the Bar staff, and the many volunteers who assist the Bar has been a pleasure. There is always much work to be done in the disciplinary system: complaints to investigate, cases to try, and policies to be developed. As the servants to the disciplinary system continue their work in attorney discipline, they need only look to the court and remember the words of Yogi Berra, “You can observe a lot just by watching.”

Notes
[1] Currently, under D.C. Bar Rule XI, section 1(a), disciplinary authority extends only to lawyers licensed in the District of Columbia, lawyers practicing pro hac vice here, licensed special legal consultants, and persons the court has suspended or disbarred. Lawyers who are not licensed in the District of Columbia, but who are engaged in multijurisdictional practice in accordance with D.C. Appeals Rule 49, are now subject to discipline only in the state or states where they are licensed. Bar Counsel routinely refers complaints it receives about such lawyers to other states for their action as appropriate.
[2] In re Marshall, 762 A.2d 530 (D.C. 2000) (cocaine addiction will not mitigate misconduct for which the sanction is disbarment).
[3] 579 A.2d 190 (D.C. 1990) (en banc).
[4] In re Anderson, 778 A.2d 330 (D.C. 2001) (single act of simple negligence absent a pattern of misconduct or dishonesty warrants six-month suspension); In re Fair, 780 A.2d 1106 (D.C. 2001) (two separate counts of negligent misappropriation warrant a one-year suspension; other two neglect counts warrant additional 60-day suspension); In re Berryman, 764 A.2d 760 (D.C. 2000) (reckless misappropriation warrants disbarment).
[5] In re Steinberg, 864 A.2d 120 (D.C. 2004).
[6] In re Hager, 812 A.2d 904 (D.C. 2002).
[7] In re Schlemmer, 840 A.2d 657, 662 (D.C. 2004) (Bar Counsel’s informal admonition letters “may contain sufficient detail to be useful to this court in determining the range of sanctions appropriate in similar circumstances”).
[8] In re Gonzalez, 773 A.2d 1026 (D.C. 2001).
[9] Id. at 1029 (“In the present case, the charged misconduct occurred in connection with a proceeding in a Virginia court in which Gonzalez, a member of the Virginia bar, was counsel of record. The parties, the Hearing Committee, and the Board all agree that, under these circumstances, the disciplinary rules of the Commonwealth of Virginia apply, and we so hold.”).
[10] In re Beller, 841 A.2d 768 (D.C. 2004) (per curiam).
[11] In re Butterfield, 851 A.2d 513 (D.C. 2004) (per curiam) (violation of Rule 1.7(b)(1) and (2)); In re Cohen, 847 A.2d 1162 (D.C. 2004) (multiple violations including Rule 1.7 and Rule 5.1(a) and (c)(2) for misconduct by a law firm associate).
[12] In re Austin, 858 A.2d 969 (D.C. 2004).
[13] In re Zdravkovich, 831 A.2d 964 (D.C. 2003); In re Childress, 811 A.2d 805, 807 (D.C. 2002) (“Most recently in this regard we stated that, ‘in such circumstances, the imposition of identical discipline should be close to automatic, with minimum review by both the Board and this court.’ In re Cole, 809 A.2d 1226, 1227 n.3 (D.C. 2002).”).
[14] In re Laibstein and In re Steinberg, 841 A.2d 1259 (D.C. 2004) (per curiam).
[15] In re Holdmann, 834 A.2d 887, 889 (D.C. 2003) (“We have also specifically held that an attorney waives the right to contest the imposition of reciprocal discipline when he or she does not oppose the proposed discipline before the Board or fails to respond to the court’s show cause order.”); In re Harper, 785 A.2d 311, 316 (D.C. 2001) (“Treating an opposition filed for the first time in this court as equivalent to a timely response to the show cause order thwarts the operation of a disciplinary system that depends heavily on the Board’s expertise in making recommendations.”).
[16] In re Shearin, 764 A.2d 774 (D.C. 2000) (principle of collateral estoppel applies in reciprocal cases; court normally accepts findings from sister state where discipline originally imposed).

Disciplinary Actions Taken by the Board on Professional Responsibility
In re Donna C. Aldridge. Bar No. 83600. December 23, 2004. In a reciprocal matter from Maryland, the board recommends that the court suspend Aldridge for an indefinite period based on disability as identical reciprocal discipline pursuant to D.C. Bar Rule XI, § 13(g). The Maryland Court of Appeals indefinitely suspended Aldridge based on a joint petition that states that Aldridge was the subject of four pending disciplinary complaints alleging the failure to communicate with clients and/or third parties and neglect and/or incompetence in handling matters between 1986 and 1993. Aldridge acknowledged that she had violated one or more rules of the Maryland Rules of Professional Conduct in three of the four complaints.

In re Suzann L. Beckett. Bar No. 417612. December 17, 2004. In a reciprocal matter from Connecticut, the board issued a reprimand to Beckett as identical reciprocal discipline. The reviewing committee of the Statewide Grievance Committee publicly reprimanded Beckett for misrepresenting to a Connecticut court that she had sent a fee refund to a client, in violation of Rules 3.1, 3.3(a)(1), and 8.4(4) of the Connecticut Rules of Professional Conduct.

In re Michael O. Burnett. Bar No. 430523. December 7, 2004. The board recommends that the court suspend Burnett for 30 days, with reinstatement conditioned upon his responding to Bar Counsel’s inquiries and his proving his fitness to practice law. In three separate matters Burnett failed to respond to Bar Counsel’s lawful demands for information, in violation of Rules 8.1(b) and 8.4(d), and in one matter also failed to comply with a board order, in violation of D.C. Bar Rule XI, § 2(b)(3).

In re Karen Cleaver-Bascombe. Bar No. 458922. December 17, 2004. The board recommends that the court suspend Cleaver-Bascombe for three months and condition her reinstatement on her taking a record-keeping and timekeeping course. Cleaver-Bascombe submitted a Criminal Justice Act voucher for work she did not perform and in so doing charged an unreasonable fee; made a false statement of material fact to a tribunal; engaged in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation; and engaged in conduct that seriously interfered with the administration of justice, in violation of Rules 1.5(a), 3.3(a)(1), 8.4(c), and 8.4(d).

In re Robert W. Eldridge. Bar No. 447165. December 13, 2004. The board recommends that the court disbar Eldridge by consent.

In re James E. Joyner. Bar No. 114199. December 29, 2004. In a reciprocal matter from Maryland, the board recommends that the court impose identical reciprocal discipline and suspend Joyner for nine months, subject to the same condition imposed in Maryland. Based on a joint petition by consent, the Maryland Court of Appeals suspended Joyner for nine months, with the conditions that he consult with the Lawyers’ Assistance Program of the Maryland State Bar Association, return $500 in client fees, pay costs related to disciplinary action of $710, and agree to take no new clients between the time of the granting of the petition and the commencement of the suspension. The Maryland action was based on two separate complaints, one arising from Joyner’s representation in a personal injury matter and the other arising from Joyner’s representation in an adoption proceeding, in both of which Joyner allegedly violated Rules 1.1, 1.3, 1.4, 3.2, and 8.4(d) of the Maryland Rules of Professional Conduct. Furthermore, with regard to the adoption matter, Joyner also allegedly violated Maryland Rule 1.16(d).

In re Billy W. King. Bar No. 370758. December 10, 2004. The board recommends that the court disbar King by consent.

In re Eric N. Miller. Bar No. 384784. January 12, 2005. On remand from the court at the board’s request for the limited purpose of considering the impact on the appropriate sanction of Miller’s untimely response filed four years after it was due, the board reaffirms its recommendation that Miller be suspended for 30 days, with reinstatement conditioned upon his completion of 12 hours of continuing legal education in ethics and professional responsibility. Miller had failed to respond to three requests from Bar Counsel for a response to a single disciplinary complaint and to an order of the board compelling him to respond. Miller violated Rules 8.1(b) and 8.4(d) and D.C. Bar Rule XI, § 2(b)(3).

In re Thomas O’Toole. Bar No. 419140. December 2, 2004. In a reciprocal matter from Maryland, the board recommends that the court impose identical reciprocal discipline and suspend O’Toole for 30 days with nunc pro tunc treatment only if he files a new affidavit in compliance with D.C. Bar Rule XI, § 14, within 10 days. The Maryland Court of Appeals suspended O’Toole for willful failure to file his individual income tax returns for a period of three years.

In re Robert A. Ras. Bar No. 244699. December 22, 2004. In a reciprocal matter from Illinois, the board recommends that the court impose identical reciprocal discipline, suspend Ras for one year, and require him to prove his fitness to practice law as a condition of reinstatement. In a matter arising from Ras’s conduct in two personal disputes, the Illinois Supreme Court suspended Ras for one year for dishonesty before the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission, repeated use of ethnic slurs, an attempt to intimidate a party to gain an advantage in a civil dispute, allusion to irrelevant personal facts in order to degrade a person in a court case, and prejudice of the administration of justice by filing a pleading with an improper offensive reference, in violation of Rules 1.2(e), 3.3(a)(9), 4.4, 8.1(a)(1), 8.4(a)(4), and 8.4(a)(5) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct and Illinois Supreme Court Rule 771.

In re Wendell C. Robinson. Bar No. 377091. December 6, 2004. The board recommends that the court grant Robinson’s petition for reinstatement upon two conditions: (1) he enroll in and complete a course in financial management within one year of his reinstatement, and (2) he meet with the Lawyer Practice Assistance Program, follow its guidance on running a law office, and be under the supervision of a board-appointed financial monitor for one year after he begins to practice law.

In re Leslie D. Silverman. Bar No. 448188. December 17, 2004. This consolidated case involves a reciprocal matter from the Maryland Attorney Grievance Commission and an original proceeding arising from Silverman’s failure to respond to Bar Counsel. Regarding the reciprocal matter, the majority of the board determined that the commission should not be deemed a “disciplining court” within the meaning of D.C. Bar Rule XI, § 11(a), thus making reciprocal discipline inappropriate. Regarding the original matter, the board recommends that the court publicly censure Silverman for her failure to respond to Bar Counsel’s lawful demands for information, in violation of Rules 8.1(b) and 8.4(d), and her failure to comply with a board order, in violation of D.C. Bar Rule XI, § 2(b)(3). The board chair, along with one other board member, concurred with regard to the original matter, but dissented with regard to the report’s treatment of the disciplining court issue, and would have supported reciprocal discipline in the Maryland matter.

In re Robert M. Silverman. Bar No. 162610. December 17, 2004. In a reciprocal matter from California, the board found that the California State Bar Court is a disciplinary court and issued a board reprimand to Silverman as functionally equivalent discipline. Silverman received a public reproval from the California State Bar Court based on his stipulation that he willfully failed to provide an accounting as requested by his client, in violation of Rule 4-100(B)(3) of the California Rules of Professional Conduct, and engaged in “gross negligence” in responding to the California State Bar inquiry, in violation of California Business and Professions Code § 6106.

In re Scott G. Smith. Bar No. 957118. December 21, 2004. In a reciprocal matter from Maryland, the board recommends that the court impose identical reciprocal discipline and disbar Smith with nunc pro tunc treatment if Smith promptly files a new affidavit that complies with D.C. Bar Rule XI, § 14. In a case based on four separate complaints involving Smith’s conduct as an escrow agent, the Maryland Court of Appeals disbarred Smith for intentional misappropriation; engaging in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation; and failing to turn over pertinent financial records to Maryland Bar Counsel upon request, in violation of Rules 1.15(a), 1.15(b), 8.1(b), and 8.4(a)–(c) of the Maryland Rules of Professional Conduct, Maryland Code §§ 10-306 and 10-606(b), and Maryland Rule 16-609.

In re Denis L. Ventriglia. Bar No. 370938. December 2, 2004. In a reciprocal matter from North Carolina, the board recommends that the court impose identical reciprocal discipline and suspend Ventriglia for two years, stayed in favor of two years of unsupervised probation, as long as Ventriglia complies with the conditions of the North Carolina State Bar consent order. The North Carolina State Bar suspended Ventriglia, but stayed the suspension in favor of probation with conditions, based on a consent order of discipline. Ventriglia failed to file federal and state income tax returns for three years, to pay federal and state income taxes for these years, and to pay self-employment taxes for four years, which failures involved federal and state misdemeanors and violated Rule 8.4(b) of the North Carolina Revised Rules of Professional Conduct.

In re Kenneth E. Wheeler. Bar No. 445227. December 8, 2004. The board recommends that the court disbar Wheeler. Wheeler was convicted in the Superior Court of Hudson County, New Jersey, of misapplication of entrusted property, in violation of N.J. Stat. § 2C:21-15, a crime involving moral turpitude per se, for which disbarment is mandatory under D.C. Code § 11-2503(a) (2001).

Disciplinary Actions Taken by the District of Columbia Court of Appeals
In re Mohamed Alamgir. Bar No. 447715. December 2, 2004. The court disbarred Alamgir by consent.

In re Koteles I. Alexander. Bar No. 408969. January 13, 2005. The court disbarred Alexander and ordered him, as a condition of reinstatement, to pay restitution to a decedent’s estate in the amount of $77,000, less any amount he can establish that he returned to the estate, with interest. Alexander, while retained to represent co–personal representatives of a decedent’s estate, improperly took at least $77,000 from the estate, intentionally damaged his clients, commingled estate funds with his own, intentionally misappropriated estate funds, failed to maintain complete records of entrusted funds, committed theft, engaged in conduct involving dishonesty, and seriously interfered with the administration of justice, in violation of Rules 1.3(b)(2), 1.15(a), and 8.4(b)–(d). In addition, Alexander engaged in dishonesty and tax evasion related to his manipulation of funds in and out of his law firm’s trust account, in violation of Rules 8.4(b) and 8.4(c), and knowingly made a false statement of material fact, engaged in dishonesty, and seriously interfered with the administration of justice in connection with a disciplinary matter, in violation of Rules 8.1(a), 8.4(c), and 8.4(d).

In re Robert W. Eldridge. Bar No. 447165. December 30, 2004. The court disbarred Eldridge by consent.

In re Lysle S. Follette III. Bar No. 453564. December 2, 2004. In a culmination of two original discipline proceedings and one reciprocal discipline proceeding, the court suspended Follette for 90 days and conditioned his reinstatement on both a showing of compliance with all outstanding requests for information by Bar Counsel and proof of fitness. In the two original proceedings, which involved four separate matters, Follette failed to cooperate with Bar Counsel’s investigations and ignored board orders. The reciprocal matter, which involved Follette’s failure to respond to an order issued by the District Court in connection with two matters pending before the Committee on Grievances, resulted in Follette’s indefinite suspension by the District Court. Follette violated Rules 8.1(b) and 8.4(d) and D.C. Bar Rule XI, § 2(b)(3), in the original matters.

In re Mark A. Key. Bar No. 458725. December 30, 2004. In a reciprocal matter from North Carolina, the court imposed identical reciprocal discipline and suspended Key for two years, stayed for three years and conditioned on his not being held by the North Carolina State Bar (NCSB) to be in violation of the terms of its disciplinary order. The NCSB suspended Key by consent for two years, but stayed the sanction for three years with conditions. Key was convicted of assault on a female, a misdemeanor, in violation of North Carolina General Statute § 14-33(c)(2). In a consent order with the NCSB, Key stipulated that he violated Rules 1.18 (prohibiting a lawyer from having sexual relations with a client) and 8.4(b) (prohibiting a lawyer from committing a criminal act that reflects adversely on the lawyer’s fitness) of the North Carolina Rules of Professional Conduct.

In re Billy W. King. Bar No. 370758. December 30, 2004. The court disbarred King by consent.

In re John L. McGann. Bar No. 114561. December 30, 2004. In a reciprocal matter from Virginia, the court imposed nonidentical reciprocal discipline and suspended McGann for 30 days to commence upon completion of an earlier suspension. The Virginia State Bar Disciplinary Board publicly reprimanded McGann, with the requirement that he take six hours of continuing legal education classes in criminal defense and two hours of continuing legal education in legal ethics. The Virginia discipline was based on a determination that McGann had represented five criminal defendants facing prosecution arising out of the same matter, even though the clients’ interests were in conflict.

In re Mary S. Meade. Bar No. 413992. December 16, 2004. In a reciprocal matter from Virginia, the court imposed identical reciprocal discipline and suspended Meade for 13 months. The Virginia proceeding concerned Meade’s refusal to pay a court reporter and her dishonest behavior when the Virginia disciplinary authorities investigated the situation. The Virginia Supreme Court found that Meade’s statements in her written and oral testimony in connection with the matter were false, and that she violated Disciplinary Rules 1-102(A)(3) and (4) of the Virginia Code of Professional Responsibility and Rules 8.1(c), 8.1(d), 8.4(b), and 8.4(c) of the Virginia Rules of Professional Conduct.

In re Thomas T. Prousalis Jr. Bar No. 385481. December 30, 2004. The court disbarred Prousalis by consent.

In re Thomas J. Scanlon. Bar No. 140020. January 6, 2005. The court suspended Scanlon for 30 days and conditioned his reinstatement on his filing a response to the disciplinary complaint and his completing six hours of continuing legal education courses in the area of legal ethics and professional responsibility. Scanlon failed to respond to Bar Counsel’s lawful demands for information, in violation of Rules 8.1(b) and 8.4(d), and failed to comply with a board order, in violation of D.C. Bar Rule XI, § 2(b)(3).

In re Andrew M. Steinberg. Bar No. 350983. December 30, 2004. The court suspended Steinberg for 30 days and conditioned his reinstatement on proof of fitness. Steinberg failed to cooperate with a Bar Counsel investigation, in violation of Rules 8.1(b) and 8.4(d), and failed to respond to a board order, in violation of D.C. Bar Rule XI, § 2(b)(3).

In re H. Allen Whitehead. Bar No. 427940. December 16, 2004. The court disbarred Whitehead by consent.

In re Robert M. Winick. Bar No. 115170. January 13, 2005. In a reciprocal matter combining three separate proceedings involving 18 clients in Florida, the court imposed identical reciprocal discipline, with minor exceptions, and suspended Winick for three years with fitness. The Florida Supreme Court concluded that Winick had violated numerous Florida disciplinary rules in multiple matters, including failure to act with reasonable diligence and promptness in representing clients, failure to keep a client reasonably informed, failure to explain a matter to the extent reasonably necessary to permit a client to make informed decisions, failure to act with reasonable diligence and promptness in representing a client, failure to respond to a disciplinary authority, failure to respond to a Bar inquiry, commingling of client and personal funds, and failure to keep trust account records.

In re George G. Young III. Bar No. 422387. December 16, 2004. The court disbarred Young. Young was convicted in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania of 21 felony counts of theft of government funds, false statements, and mail fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 641, 1001, and 1341. Because Young was convicted of mail fraud and theft of government property, crimes that involved moral turpitude per se, disbarment is mandatory under D.C. Code § 11-2503(a) (2001).

Informal Admonitions Issued by the Office of Bar Counsel
In re Lawrence A. Hoffman. Bar No. 5983. September 1, 2004. In a reciprocal matter from New York, Bar Counsel issued Hoffman an informal admonition. The Departmental Disciplinary Committee for the New York First Judicial Department issued Hoffman a private reprimand for violation of Disciplinary Rules 6-101(A)(3) (failing to act competently) and 7-106(A) (trial conduct) of the New York Code of Professional Responsibility while representing two separate clients pro hac vice in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey. In one matter Hoffman failed to comply in a timely manner with discovery requests and a court order, resulting in prejudice to the defendant and the award of defendant’s reasonable cost and expenses, including attorney’s fees. In a second matter Hoffman failed to comply with a number of discovery requests and court orders, resulting in sanctions upon himself and his client and revocation of his pro hac vice admission in New Jersey.

In re Steven Kreiss. Bar No. 58297. January 6, 2005. Bar Counsel issued Kreiss an informal admonition for violating Rules 1.1, 1.3(a), 1.3(c), 1.4(a), and 1.4(b) by failing to keep his client informed of the status of his matter and to file a timely brief in an immigration matter, causing the Board of Immigration Appeals to affirm the Immigration Court’s deportation order against his client.

In re Brenda C. Wagner. Bar No. 267385. December 28, 2004. Bar Counsel issued Wagner an informal admonition for violating Rules 1.1, 1.3(a), 1.3(c), and 8.4(d) while serving as court-appointed counsel in two criminal cases based on her failure to file a brief despite the court’s repeated directives to do so.

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/
dccourts/appeals/opinions_mojs.jsp
. 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.