Washington Lawyer

Bar Counsel: Reciprocal Discipline Revisited: Traps for the Unwary

From Washington Lawyer, February 2004

By Joyce E. Peters

barcounsel In a recent opinion of the District of Columbia Court of Appeals, Associate Judge Steadman, writing for the court, noted:

Reciprocal bar disciplinary cases account for a significant percentage of disciplinary actions in the District of Columbia. The District of Columbia Bar has more than 77,000 members, over 55,000 of whom maintain active membership with the Bar. Apr. 2003 D.C. Bar Membership Distribution Rep at 1. We are advised that each of over 42,000 of these active members has certified to our Bar that he or she is also admitted in another jurisdiction. Indeed, it remains common for our thousands of Washington Metropolitan Area members to also practice in Maryland or Virginia. It should come as no surprise, therefore, that our Bar had 31 reciprocal discipline cases in 2002, a figure that dwarfs the amount of reciprocal discipline procedures in other jurisdictions.[1]
In fact, approximately 79 percent of the current members of the District of Columbia Bar are now licensed in more than one state, and that number is growing. Anyone who has reviewed the lists of new admittees to the D.C. Bar quickly realizes that more than 90 percent of the newly admitted members are already licensed in another state and are being admitted on motion. As the court further commented:
For some twenty years, the District of Columbia has had a liberal policy of admitting by motion attorneys admitted in another American jurisdiction. D.C. App. R. 46(c). As a consequence, of the approximately 3,000 new admittees to our Bar each year, less than ten per cent are admitted by examination and the remainder by motion. District of Columbia Courts, 2002 Ann. Rep. at 42.[2]
This means that the percentage of D.C. Bar members who are licensed only in the District of Columbia has been rapidly dwindling and over time will become less than 10 percent. The large percentage of D.C. Bar members who hold multiple licenses makes reciprocal discipline a more common occurrence in the District of Columbia than in other jurisdictions. Consequently, D.C. Bar members, particularly those licensed in more than one jurisdiction, need to understand some of the nuances of reciprocal practice and how the reciprocal discipline process works.

Many D.C. lawyers are also licensed in either Maryland or Virginia, or both. Although a few reciprocal cases come from Florida, New York, Connecticut, and even Hawaii, most arise from disciplinary actions taken in Maryland or Virginia. Data maintained in the Office of Bar Counsel indicate that in 2001 there were 41 reciprocal cases here, including 13 from Maryland and 5 from Virginia. In 2002 Maryland and Virginia accounted for more than half of the 31 reciprocal cases: 11 from Maryland and 7 from Virginia. Through the end of November 2003, from a total of 21 reciprocal cases, 9 arose in Maryland and 2 in Virginia.

D.C. lawyers holding licenses in either Maryland or Virginia, or both, often engage in practice in more than one state because of the proximity of these jurisdictions to the District of Columbia. Ethical misconduct occurring in either state may result in disciplinary action for which reciprocal discipline is then taken in the District of Columbia. Sometimes, while practicing only in the District of Columbia, lawyers with multiple licenses may engage in nonpractice-related ethical misconduct in Maryland or Virginia that results in disciplinary action there and subsequent reciprocal action in the District of Columbia. For most other states, however, particularly those geographically distant from the District of Columbia, reciprocal action in the District of Columbia usually arises from disciplinary action taken in the other state based on the lawyer’s practice-related misconduct there.

The reciprocal discipline process itself is really quite simple and is based on notions of comity with discipline imposed in other states.[3] Section 2(b) of Rule XI of the District of Columbia Court of Appeals Rules Governing the Bar, which defines the type of misconduct that may be grounds for discipline, explicitly provides in section 2(b)(2) that included among the grounds for discipline is “[d]iscipline imposed in another jurisdiction. . . .” This provision in turn refers to Rule XI, § 11, which contains the definitions, standards, and process for imposing reciprocal discipline.

In general, under Rule XI, § 11, whenever Bar Counsel learns that a D.C. Bar member has been disciplined by another court or tribunal,[4] Bar Counsel reports the discipline to the court. Bar Counsel may learn of this discipline from a media account, the disciplining court, a third party, an inquiry to the National Lawyer Regulatory Data Bank (a disciplinary database maintained by the American Bar Association), or a report from the disciplined attorney.[5] The court then issues an order “directing the attorney to show cause within thirty days from the date of the order why identical reciprocal discipline should not be imposed. The attorney’s response to the order to show cause shall be filed with the Board. . . .”[6] If the attorney was suspended or disbarred in the other jurisdiction, the court will suspend the attorney from the practice of law in the District of Columbia until final disposition of the reciprocal proceeding.

The reciprocal discipline process normally does not involve a hearing or oral argument before the Board on Professional Responsibility.[7] The written responses of the attorney and Bar Counsel are reviewed by the board, which makes a recommendation to the court on whether reciprocal discipline should be imposed or whether other action should be taken.[8] The board also recommends whether an identical, lesser, or greater sanction should be imposed. The court makes the ultimate decision.

Over the past decade the court has adopted “a rigid standard” for reciprocal discipline cases.[9] As Rule XI, § 11(c), states:

Reciprocal discipline shall be imposed unless the attorney demonstrates, by clear and convincing evidence, that:
(1) The procedure elsewhere was so lacking in notice or opportunity to be heard as to constitute a deprivation of due process; or
(2) There was such infirmity of proof establishing the misconduct as to give rise to the clear conviction that the court could not, consistently with its duty, accept as final the conclusion on that subject; or
(3) The imposition of the same discipline by the court would result in grave injustice; or
(4) The misconduct established warrants substantially different discipline in the District of Columbia; or
(5) The misconduct elsewhere does not constitute misconduct in the District of Columbia. [Emphasis added.]
Although the rule itself requires the attorney to demonstrate by clear and convincing evidence that one of the exceptions applies, Bar Counsel also may object to the imposition of identical reciprocal discipline and may recommend a different sanction when Bar Counsel believes an exception applies and a different sanction is warranted.[10] In the absence of proof of an exception, this jurisdiction recognizes a strong presumption that the discipline imposed by the disciplining court should be imposed on a reciprocal basis.[11] As the court has repeatedly stated:
This court adheres to the principle that, in cases where neither Bar Counsel nor the attorney opposes identical discipline, “[t]he most the Board should consider itself obligated to do . . . is to review the foreign proceeding sufficiently to satisfy itself that no obvious miscarriage of justice would result in the imposition of identical discipline—a situation that we anticipate would rarely if ever present itself.” In re Spann, 711 A.2d 1262, 1265 (D.C. 1998). 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).[12]
Imposition of a greater or lesser sanction should be the exception—the rare case. If the sanction imposed by the disciplining court falls within the range of sanctions that might be imposed here in an original case, identical discipline is required.[13]

If the attorney fails to participate or to contest the imposition of reciprocal discipline as prescribed by the rules of the court or the board, the board’s review is limited to ensuring that “no obvious miscarriage of justice would result in the imposition of identical discipline.”[14] By not participating, the attorney forgoes the opportunity to have each of the possible exceptions in Rule XI, § 11, evaluated by the board. Instead, the board takes a more cursory look to see only if there has been a miscarriage of justice: for example, a lack of notice and opportunity to be heard, a serious infirmity of proof, or a case in which the misconduct in the other state would not be misconduct in the District of Columbia.

Absent one of these findings, “a final determination by a disciplining court outside the District of Columbia or by another court in the District of Columbia that an attorney has been guilty of professional misconduct shall conclusively establish the misconduct for the purpose of a reciprocal disciplinary proceeding [here].”[15] This finality is important because the court will not allow the attorney to relitigate the case in the reciprocal proceeding.[16] Nor will the court allow an attorney who fails to respond to the court’s show-cause order and fails to participate before the board to challenge the imposition of reciprocal discipline for the first time before the court.[17] As a result, the attorney is well advised to participate in the reciprocal proceeding before the board or else, at his or her own peril, the attorney waives any issues regarding imposition of identical, lesser, or greater reciprocal discipline.

Another important issue for an attorney faced with reciprocal discipline that may involve a suspensory sanction or disbarment is when the sanction is effective.[18] Most attorneys would prefer that any reciprocal suspensory sanction ordered by the court be imposed retroactively so that the time of the suspension runs in the District of Columbia concurrent with the suspension in the original jurisdiction. This is nunc pro tunc treatment. In In re Goldberg[19] the court expressed a preference for concurrence of the sanctions, but only if the attorney takes the appropriate actions. The court stated:

If the attorney “promptly” notifies Bar counsel of any professional disciplinary action in another jurisdiction, as he or she is required to do under Rule XI, § 18(1), and if the attorney voluntarily refrains from practicing law in the District of Columbia during the period of suspension in the original jurisdiction, then there will probably be no reason to aggravate the discipline by making the District of Columbia suspension wholly or partially consecutive to that imposed elsewhere.[20]
If, however, the attorney does not promptly notify Bar Counsel of disciplinary action taken in another jurisdiction or engages in the practice of law in the District of Columbia while suspended, the court may not grant nunc pro tunc treatment and may order a more severe disciplinary sanction. Or, in the worst case, the attorney may face criminal contempt charges for practicing while under suspension.[21]

Board Rule 8.5(b) reiterates these requirements, but also highlights the importance of the attorney’s satisfying the reporting requirements in Rule XI, § 14(g), by filing the affidavit required by the court. The court requires any attorney suspended (or disbarred) in this jurisdiction, including an attorney placed on an interim suspension pending the resolution of a reciprocal matter, to file an affidavit attesting that all clients and opposing parties have been notified of the suspension (or disbarment) and that the attorney has returned all client files and property.[22] Even if an attorney meets the Goldberg requirements, the attorney may not qualify for nunc pro tunc treatment if the required section 14(g) affidavit has not been filed. Thus, the attorney, to obtain nunc pro tunc treatment, must file two affidavits: one showing compliance with the Goldberg requirements, the other in compliance with Rule XI, § 14(g). The court strictly enforces the section 14(g) affidavit requirements.[23]

So what are the traps in the reciprocal discipline process that may ensnare the unwitting attorney? There are several. First, the attorney should promptly report any discipline to Bar Counsel as the court requires, especially if the original discipline involves a suspension. The failure to do so will jeopardize the attorney’s ability to get nunc pro tunc treatment for the disciplinary sanction. Some attorneys fail to report discipline they have received under the mistaken belief that other disciplinary authorities will not find out about the discipline. Although the reciprocal discipline may be delayed, it will be initiated when discovered and can have a serious impact if nunc pro tunc treatment is no longer available.

Second, the attorney should, if possible, stop practicing in the District of Columbia during the suspension in the other jurisdiction so that the attorney can meet the Goldberg requirements and obtain the benefit of a concurrent suspension. The attorney absolutely must not practice law in the District of Columbia while on interim suspension, as disciplinary or criminal consequences may result.

Third, the attorney should consider participating before the Board on Professional Responsibility to raise any issues in the case. Although this participation will not allow the attorney to relitigate the original proceeding, it will enable the attorney to challenge any defects in the original proceeding and address the appropriate sanction. An attorney who fails to participate before the board waives any issues not raised and may not present them for the first time to the court. In addition, however, the failure to participate significantly changes the nature of the board’s review and makes it more cursory than if the attorney participates.

Finally, the attorney should file a timely affidavit in full compliance with Rule XI, § 14(g), when so directed by the court. The time of a suspensory sanction will not count for purposes of reinstatement until such an affidavit is properly filed. A short suspension can become a lengthy one if the attorney delays in filing a correct affidavit.

One attorney recently disbarred in the District of Columbia for serious misconduct announced to an assistant bar counsel here that his disbarment was not a problem, as he would simply move his practice to New York. He was clearly unaware of the reciprocal discipline process, used both here and in New York and other states. His disciplinary problem was great. He apparently was unaware not only of the reciprocal discipline traps, but also of the reciprocal disbarment abyss likely in front of him.

Notes
[1] In re Zdravkovich, 831 A.2d 964, 968 (D.C. 2003) (footnotes omitted). This case contains citations to many of the court’s reciprocal decisions and describes the court’s policies and precedents in resolving reciprocal matters and making reciprocal sanction determinations.
[2] Id. at 968 n.5.
[3] “[T]here is merit in according deference, for its own sake, to the actions of other jurisdictions with respect to the attorneys over whom we share supervisory authority. . . . It is also firmly established that principles of collateral estoppel apply in reciprocal discipline cases.” Id. at 969 (citations omitted); see also In re Childress, 811 A.2d 805 (D.C. 2002).
[4] Rule XI, § 11(a), defines disciplining court for purposes of reciprocal discipline. This includes a federal court as defined in 28 U.S.C. § 451, “the highest court of a state, territory or possession of the United States, and any other agency or tribunal with authority to disbar or suspend an attorney from the practice of law in any state, territory or possession of the United States.” It does not include, however, actions taken by sister nations, such as Canada or Germany. This raises interesting issues because of recent multilateral international trade agreements that address the authority of lawyers of different nations to practice law outside their home countries. In addition, many U.S. firms now have branch offices in other countries, especially in Europe. If a D.C. lawyer were sanctioned by a European disciplinary authority, that action would appear not to be an action by a disciplining court and thus not a proper subject for reciprocal discipline here. This would not, however, preclude Bar Counsel from initiating an original investigation into the matter.
[5] Rule XI, § 11(b), imposes on all D.C. Bar members the requirement to “promptly inform Bar Counsel” of professional discipline received from a disciplining court. This rule makes no distinction between public and private discipline. The reporting requirement applies to both. Whether an attorney makes a prompt report to Bar Counsel has important consequences related to the timing of any suspensory sanction and will be discussed in more detail below. In addition, as with an original action, there is no statute of limitations on reciprocal discipline. It may be initiated at any time.
[6] Rule XI, § 11(d). Although this provision contemplates that the attorney would be the first to respond to the court’s order by filing a response with the Board on Professional Responsibility, actual practice is a bit different. Under Rule 8.1 of the board’s rules of procedure, the board has imposed the duty on Bar Counsel to go first and to file a statement with the board within 30 days of the show-cause order indicating whether reciprocal discipline is appropriate. Although this practice (which is used by the court) provides the attorney with a full analysis and notice of Bar Counsel’s view of the reciprocal matter, see In re Harper, 785 A.2d 311, 315–16 n.5 (D.C. 2001), Bar Counsel believes that given the strong presumption in favor of identical reciprocal discipline, the better and more efficient practice would be to put the burden on the attorney to advocate why identical reciprocal discipline should not be imposed and then let Bar Counsel respond to any issues the attorney raises. Bar Counsel has proposed this to the board, and it is under consideration by the board and by the Bar committee that is currently reviewing the operation of the Bar’s disciplinary system.
[7] Board Rule 8.3 does permit a motion to be filed by either Bar Counsel or the attorney requesting oral argument “for good cause shown.” The board may also sua sponte order oral argument in an appropriate case.
[8] The board may also direct Bar Counsel to handle the case as an original matter, or it may refer the case to a hearing committee to make a recommendation on an appropriate sanction. As a practical matter, these two alternatives are rare.
[9] In re Zdravkovich, 831 A.2d at 968–69.
[10] See In re Reid, 540 A.2d 754, 758 (D.C. 1988) and In re Berger, 737 A.2d 1033, 1040 (D.C. 1999). Rule XI, § 11(c), no longer requires Bar Counsel to demonstrate the existence of one of the exceptions in that section, but puts the entire burden on the attorney. Historically, however, as a continuation of the practice under the former version of the reciprocal discipline rules, that is, Rule XI, § 18, Bar Counsel has been permitted to suggest that an exception applies and that a greater or lesser sanction is warranted based upon a comparison of the foreign discipline with sanctions imposed in original matters in the District of Columbia. In a reciprocal case from New York now pending before the court, the board, in reaching its sanction recommendation, noted: “We make this judgment [to recommend disbarment] based on our recognition that Bar Counsel has not made a practice of supporting identical reciprocal discipline when the discipline would be grossly disproportionate to the violation if it were prosecuted as an original matter in this jurisdiction. . . .” In re Drager, Bar Docket Nos. 278-01 & 508-02, Bd. Rpt. at 8 (Nov. 26, 2003) (emphasis in the original).
[11] In re Gardner, 650 A.2d 693, 695 (D.C. 1994); In re Zilberberg, 612 A.2d 832, 834–35 (D.C. 1992); In re Velasquez, 507 A.2d 145 (D.C. 1986) (per curiam).
[12] In re Childress, 811 A.2d at 807.
[13] In re Garner, 576 A.2d 1356 (D.C. 1990). The sanction range here for particular misconduct can be quite large, and may encompass sanctions from an informal admonition through a lengthy suspension. As a result, reciprocal sanctions for various types of misconduct often appear quite inconsistent and are not used as authority in original cases. In In re Childress the court also noted: “Underlying that principle [that imposition of identical discipline should be close to automatic] is a general reluctance by the court to have the disciplinary law of the District of Columbia—concerning both misconduct and sanctions—developed in proceedings that are characterized by deference to another jurisdiction’s judgment and by the absence of [the clash of adversaries found in an original proceeding].” 811 A.2d at 807.
[14] In re Childress, 811 A.2d at 807; see also In re Cole, 809 A.2d 1226, 1227–28 n.3 (D.C. 2002) (per curiam); In re Spann, 711 A.2d 1262, 1265 (D.C. 1998); In re Goldsborough, 654 A.2d 1285, 1287–88 n.5 (D.C. 1995).
[15] Rule XI, § 11(c).
[16] In re Shearin, 764 A.2d 774, 777 (D.C. 2000); In re Benjamin, 698 A.2d 434, 440 (D.C. 1997).
[17] In re Harper, 785 A.2d 311, 316 (D.C. 2001)
(“[t]reating 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”); In re Holdmann, No. 00-BG-1214 (D.C. Nov. 6, 2003).
[18] The board report in the case of In re Hines, Bar Docket No. 411-01, issued on June 26, 2003, contains a detailed description of not only the reciprocal discipline process, but also the obligations of respondent attorneys. It is available online at www.dcbar.org/bprReports/reports/Hines.pdf.
[19] 460 A.2d 982 (D.C. 1983) (per curiam).
[20] Id. at 985.
[21] In re Richardson, 649 A.2d 649 (D.C. 2000) (attorney found guilty of criminal contempt for practicing law while under an interim suspension order in a reciprocal matter).
[22] Rule XI, § 14, specifies the form for these notices and specifies other information (for example, correct addresses and other jurisdictions where the attorney is licensed) that must be included in the attorney’s affidavit. This section also directs the attorney to continue to file registration statements with the Bar for five years.
[23] In re Bowser, 771 A.2d 1002, 1003 (D.C. 2001); see also In re Tucker, 766 A.2d 510 n.5 (D.C. 2000).

Disciplinary Actions Taken by the Board on Professional Responsibility
IN RE PAUL DRAGER. Bar No. 927616. November 26, 2003. In two unrelated reciprocal matters from New York, the board recommends that the court impose identical reciprocal discipline and disbar Drager. In the earlier matter the New York court publicly censured Drager based on several counts of misconduct involving neglect, misrepresentation, and failure to cooperate with the investigation by the Grievance Committee for the Ninth Judicial District in New York. In ordering the censure, the New York court referred to three instances in which Drager had received prior discipline in New York. In the second matter the New York court disbarred Drager for failure to respond in writing to client complaints of misconduct filed with the Grievance Committee.

IN RE JEFFREY D. GRANT. Bar No. 459317. November 7, 2003. In a reciprocal matter from New York, the board recommends that the court impose identical reciprocal discipline and disbar Grant. The Supreme Court of the State of New York, Appellate Division, Second Judicial Department, disbarred Grant based on his voluntary resignation wherein he acknowledged that he could not successfully defend himself against charges of conversion of entrusted client funds; unauthorized payment to himself from client funds held in escrow; conflicts of interest by entering into business relationships with clients without the clients’ consent after full disclosure; failure to safeguard property of a client; failure to pay or deliver funds promptly to a client on demand; the unauthorized transfer of funds held in a fiduciary capacity; submission of false testimony and documentation to the Grievance Committee; conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation; and conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice.

IN RE RICHARD A. JULIANO. Bar No. 465761. October 27, 2003. The board recommends that the court disbar Juliano. Juliano was convicted, following his guilty plea, in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois of one count of engaging in a mail fraud scheme, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 2, 1341, and 1346, a crime that involves moral turpitude per se for which disbarment is mandatory under D.C. Code § 11-2503(a) (2001).

IN RE JOSEPH A. LOPES. Bar No. 411522. October 31, 2003. The board dismissed Bar Counsel’s petition against Lopes.

IN RE RALPH T. MABRY JR. Bar No. 955633. November 24, 2003. The board recommends that the court publicly censure Mabry with the conditions that he return to the Lawyer Counseling Program (LCP) and that he submit quarterly reports from the LCP detailing his attendance and compliance with program recommendations until he is released from the program. Mabry failed to respond in a timely manner to the inquiries of Bar Counsel and failed to comply with a board order to respond, in violation of Rules 8.1(b) and 8.4(d) and D.C. Bar R. XI, § 2(b)(3).

IN RE SHELDON I. MATZKIN. Bar No. 49155. November 12, 2003. The board recommends that the court deny Matzkin’s petition for reinstatement.

IN RE THOMAS B. MORRISON. Bar No. 398472. November 24, 2003. In a reciprocal matter from Maryland, the board recommends that the court publicly censure Morrison as functionally equivalent reciprocal discipline to the reprimand issued by the Maryland Court of Appeals based on a joint petition by consent for violating Maryland Rules 1.1 (competence), 1.3 (diligence and promptness), 1.4 (communication), and 5.1(b) (responsibilities of a partner or supervisory lawyer).

IN RE NAVRON PONDS. Bar No. 306589. November 7, 2003. In a reciprocal matter from Maryland, the board recommends that the court impose identical reciprocal discipline and disbar Ponds. The United States District Court for the District of Maryland disbarred Ponds subsequent to his conviction there of the offense of criminal contempt of that court, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 401(1).

IN RE CLIFFORD J. QUINN. Bar No. 417521. October 24, 2003. The board recommends that the court disbar Quinn. Quinn was convicted in the United States District Court for the District of Maryland of one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371; two counts of conflict of interest, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 208 and 216(a)(2); two counts of solicitation of a bribe by public officials, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 201(b)(2); and three counts of wire fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1343 and 1346. Because Quinn was convicted of wire fraud and conspiracy to defraud the United States, crimes involving moral turpitude per se, disbarment is mandatory under D.C. Code § 11-2503(a) (2001).

IN RE TODD A. SHEIN. Bar No. 421947. October 24, 2003. In a reciprocal matter from Maryland, the board recommends that the court impose identical reciprocal discipline and indefinitely suspend Shein from the practice of law with a fitness requirement, with the right to apply for reinstatement after five years or upon reinstatement in Maryland, whichever comes first. The Maryland Court of Appeals indefinitely suspended Shein based on a joint petition by consent. At the time Shein entered into the petition, four disciplinary matters were pending against him. Formal charges had been filed in two matters, in one of which a hearing had been held. No hearing had been held in the second matter, and charges were to be filed in the other two matters. In the one matter in which a hearing was held, Shein was found to have violated Maryland Rules 1.4(a), 1.15(b), 1.16(d), 8.1(b), and 8.4(d) by failing to keep his client apprised or respond to client inquiries; prepare an appropriate statement for hours expended or services rendered; forward promptly the client’s file and communicate with the client’s new attorney; and respond to written requests of Bar Counsel. In the matter in which formal charges were filed but no hearing had been held, Shein was charged with violating Maryland Rule 5.4(a) by sharing fees with a nonattorney. The two matters under investigation involved allegations of failure to handle an estate properly, including failure to keep the client apprised of the status of the case; and of commingling, failure to maintain funds in trust, and failure to monitor his staff. The Maryland court accepted Shein’s petition wherein he stated that sufficient evidence could be produced to sustain the allegations of misconduct, without referring to any of the specific investigations pending against him.

Disciplinary Actions Taken by the District of Columbia Court of Appeals
IN RE LEE F. HOLDMANN. Bar No. 6007. November 6, 2003. In a reciprocal matter from Maryland, the court publicly censured Holdmann. In an order issued by consent, the Maryland Court of Appeals reprimanded Holdmann and required that he pay costs in the amount of $8,252.86. The order, though otherwise public, by agreement of the parties was not to be published in the Maryland Reporter or the Atlantic Reporter, Second Series. In the negotiated settlement that led to the Maryland discipline, Holdmann admitted that he had failed to comply promptly with reasonable requests for information from his clients and failed to pursue his clients’ legal matters diligently.

IN RE KENNETH D. PACK. Bar No. 431519. October 2, 2003. In a reciprocal matter from Maryland, the court imposed identical reciprocal discipline and disbarred Pack. The court concluded that Pack’s dishonesty, fabrication of court documents, and dereliction of duty to his clients would also constitute misconduct here.

IN RE ROBERT BROWN PATTERSON. Bar No. 176305. October 9, 2003. The court disbarred Patterson based upon his conviction of felony theft of U.S. government property, a crime that involves moral turpitude per se for which disbarment is mandated by D.C. Code § 11-2503(a) (2001).

IN RE JAMES S. POWELL. Bar No. 427084. November 26, 2003. The court suspended Powell from the practice of law nunc pro tunc to October 16, 2002, based on his conviction of a serious crime pursuant to D.C. Bar R. XI, § 10, and his violation of Rules 8.4(b) and 8.4(c) based on the conviction. Powell pleaded guilty in a Norfolk, Virginia, court to the misdemeanor offense of drawing a check of less that $200 on insufficient funds with intent to defraud, in violation of Virginia Code § 18.2-181.

IN RE MALAKU J. STEEN. Bar No. 71381. October 2, 2003. The court disbarred Steen by consent.

Informal Admonitions Issued by the Office of Bar Counsel
IN RE JOHN B. KENNEDY. Bar No. 448606. September 22, 2003. Bar Counsel issued Kennedy an informal admonition for violating Rule 1.15(b) by failing to notify and disburse settlement funds promptly to a third-party medical provider.

IN RE ROY S. LERMAN. Bar No. 51482. October 1, 2003. Bar Counsel issued Lerman an informal admonition for violating Rules 1.1(a) and (b) and 1.3(a) and (c) by failing to marshal or recover estate assets in a probate matter, file the required verification, review the court file, and appear before the Superior Court on at least two occasions when he had actual notice; violating Rule 1.3(b) by intentionally failing to seek a client’s lawful objectives and causing prejudice to a client; and violating Rule 8.4(d) by seriously interfering with the administration of justice.

IN RE SAMUEL N. OMWENGA. Bar No. 461761. September 22, 2003. Bar Counsel issued Omwenga an informal admonition for violating Rule 1.1(b) by failing to provide his client with a correct hearing date and failing to attend the hearing.

IN RE BRIAN C. PLITT. Bar No. 408746. August 15, 2003. Bar Counsel issued Plitt an informal admonition for violating Rule 3.3(a)(1) by knowingly making a false statement of material fact to a tribunal when he filed with the court a sworn declaration on which he had scribed his client’s signature without placing a notation on the document to disclose that he had done so.

IN RE KENNETH H. SHEPHERD. Bar No. 68262. September 22, 2003. Bar Counsel issued Shepherd an informal admonition for violating Rules 1.4(a) and (b) by failing to keep a client reasonably informed about the status of a matter and explain a matter to the extent reasonably necessary to permit a client to make informed decisions about the representation, and Rule 1.16(d) by failing to inform a client adequately that he was withdrawing from the representation and to surrender papers and property to which the client was entitled.

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.