Indeed, contempt appears to be a common sanction for attorneys who
do not follow judges’ orders or cause difficulties that affect
the administration of the court. However, transgressions before a
tribunal that implicate an attorney’s moral character, such as
dishonesty and suborning perjury, are no laughing matter, for disciplining
bodies must become involved and the sanctions are much more serious.
Rule 3.3(a)(1) of the District of Columbia Rules of Professional Conduct
prohibits an attorney from knowingly making a false statement of material
fact to a tribunal. In cases involving this rule, the District of Columbia
Court of Appeals has typically issued suspensory sanctions.
For example, in In re Owens the respondent, who had just
finished testifying about prior counsel’s negligence in a Merit
Systems Protection Board matter, was ordered to leave the hearing room
by the administrative law judge so that her co-counsel could testify
about the same issue. Once outside, the respondent placed her ear to
the door in an attempt to listen to her colleague’s testimony,
not knowing that she was in view of a court employee and a video camera.
When later asked about this by the judge in a teleconference, the respondent,
who had been placed under oath, replied that she had not been listening
at the door. A few minutes later, the respondent called back and
admitted the truth to all parties.
In arriving at its determination, the court noted, “Respondent’s
false statements were motivated by her desire to avoid embarrassment
to herself and protect her client from any adverse consequences of her
misconduct.” Yet, despite such possible mitigating factors,
the court still suspended the respondent from the practice of law for
The false statement in Owens was an oral utterance. The attorneys
in In re Uchendu and In
re Cleaver-Bascombe, however,
filed false documents with the court.
Representing personal representatives and guardians in probate matters,
the respondent in Uchendu had signed his clients’ names
on documents that had been filed with the probate court, sometimes noting
his initials near the signatures and sometimes notarizing the documents,
even though he had signed the documents himself and the clients had
not verified the contents of the documents. Denying the respondent’s
assertion that the documents were accurate, the court noted that “a
falsely signed document that is submitted to a court is a false representation
because the signature is misleading, even if the substance of the document
is accurate.” Moreover, despite the fact that the respondent
did not have malicious intent, the court held that he had committed
a dishonest act and ordered that he be suspended from the practice of
law for 30 days, along with the condition that he attend continuing
legal education courses. In other words, because the attorney knew
that he was making a false submission to the court, he had violated
Rule 3.3(a)(1), even though he did not have a specific intent to defraud
his clients or the court.
Unlike the respondent in Uchendu, the attorney in Cleaver-Bascombe
made false submissions to the court for personal gain by inflating the
number of hours that she worked. Specifically, she submitted a Criminal
Justice Act (CJA) voucher, completed under the penalty of perjury, for
work that the hearing committee determined she never performed.
The court rejected the respondent’s argument that the District
of Columbia courts’ Financial Operations Division merely carried
out administrative functions and agreed with the Board on Professional
Responsibility that the division was a tribunal as defined in the terminology
section of the rules, in that it was a “body or individual authorized
by law to render a decision of a judicial or quasi-judicial nature.
. . .” In its opinion the court questioned the respondent’s
“fitness to practice,” and stated that paying CJA attorneys
for their work “is based upon the assumption that members of our
Bar are honorable men and women who will accurately report the work
that they have done, and who will not demean their noble calling and
bring disgrace to themselves and to their profession by swearing that
they performed work that they did not do.”
Dishonesty before the tribunal may also occur when an attorney suborns
perjury—a complex ethical issue that is discussed in at least
three different rules. Rule 3.3(a)(2) provides one of the more straightforward
prohibitions, stating, “A lawyer shall not knowingly counsel or
assist a client to engage in conduct that the lawyer knows is criminal
or fraudulent. . . .”
In direct violation of this rule, the respondent in In re Corrizzi,
a personal injury lawyer, told two of his clients to conceal his quid
pro quo relationship with two chiropractors. Following their attorney’s
directions, both clients testified falsely at their depositions that
they had located their chiropractors through the Yellow Pages. Disbarring
the respondent for numerous violations, the court described the ramifications
of the respondent’s misconduct as “the virtual destruction
of his clients’ cases and their exposure to possible criminal
prosecution. . . .”
Litigation may be an area of practice where showmanship and aggressive
behavior prevail. Nonetheless, the duty to be honest before a tribunal
is one of the fundamental aspects of being an officer of the court.
Attorneys who breach this duty of candor impugn the integrity of the
judicial system, harm their clients, and risk having their license to
practice law suspended.
 Pursuant to Rule 11 of the Superior Court Rules of Civil Procedure,
the court may sanction the attorney sua sponte or on motion by opposing
counsel for conduct that violates Rule 3.1 (prohibiting the filing of
frivolous suits) of the D.C. Rules of Professional Conduct. Cf.
In re Spikes, 881 A.2d 1118 (D.C. 2005) (D.C. Court of Appeals
suspended attorney for 30 days for filing a defamation suit based on
a complaint to the Office of Bar Counsel that was protected by absolute
privilege under D.C. Bar Rule XI, § 19(a), explaining that “frivolous
actions ‘waste the time and resources of this court, delay the
hearing of cases with merit and cause appellees unwarranted delay and
added expense,’” id. at 1127). Similarly, the usual
recourse for Rule 3.2 infractions (prohibiting delaying the court) is
contempt of court. See In re Roxborough, 663 A.2d 553 (D.C. 1995)
(summary contempt and $150 fine for being late for two matters in Superior
Court); In re Thompson, 454 A.2d 1322 (D.C. 1982); In re Siracusa,
455 A.2d 663 (D.C. 1982); In re Alexander, 466 A.2d 447 (D.C.
1982); In re Gatehouse, 415 A.2d 1388 (D.C. 1980).
 See In re Lenoir, 585 A.2d 771 (D.C. 1991) (18-month suspension
for numerous violations); In re Reback, 513 A.2d 226 (D.C. 1986)
(en banc) (six-month suspension for several violations); In re Rosen,
481 A.2d 451 (D.C. 1984) (30-day suspension); see also In re Steele,
868 A.2d 146 (D.C. 2005) (respondent suspended for three years with
fitness for numerous violations including Rule 3.3(a)(1) in fabricating
a subpoena as an excuse for failing to appear at a hearing).
 806 A.2d 1230 (D.C. 2002).
 Immediately after the respondent was spotted attempting to eavesdrop,
the administrative law judge summoned the respondent into the hearing
room and asked her whether she had been trying to listen at the door.
The respondent, who was not under oath, replied in the negative.
 Id. at 1231.
 The court held that the respondent also violated Rules 8.4(c) (dishonesty)
and 8.4(d) (interference with the administration of justice). Id.
 812 A.2d 933 (D.C. 2002).
 892 A.2d 396, 404 (D.C. 2006) (remanded to the Board on Professional
Responsibility to determine intentionality of dishonesty and sanction).
 Uchendu, 812 A.2d at 939 (citing In re Reback, 487
A.2d 235, 239 (D.C. 1985)).
 The respondent maintained that he had permission from his clients
to sign on their behalf and submitted affidavits asserting this to the
hearing committee. Id. at 935. Regardless, the court held that
D.C. Code § 20-102(a) (2001) and the Superior Court Probate Rules
mandated that verifications in the probate documents had to be personally
signed by the representative or the guardian. Id. at 937.
 Id. at 939; see In re Schneider, 553 A.2d 206, 209
(D.C. 1989) (finding dishonesty in false client expense reports that
the attorney submitted to recover compensation for undocumented expenses,
even though the total amount requested by the attorney was accurate).
 The Criminal Justice Act is codified in D.C. Code § 11-2601,
et seq. (2001).
 Cleaver-Bascombe, 892 A.2d
at 403. In its discussion of the notion that the Financial Operations
Division could be construed as a tribunal, the court also included Bar
Counsel’s argument that the Criminal Justice Act requires attorneys
to submit vouchers for compensation to “the Superior Court.”
Id. (citing D.C. Code § 11-2604(d)).
 Id. at 398.
 See D.C. Rules of Prof’l Conduct R. 3.3(a)(2), 3.3(b),
3.4(b); see also id. R. 3.3 cmt. 7.
 803 A.2d 438 (D.C. 2002).
 Id. at 442–43.
Disciplinary Actions Taken by the Board on Professional Responsibility
In re Timothy Brown. Bar No. 366743. May 22, 2006. The Board on Professional
Responsibility recommends that the D.C. Court of Appeals disbar Brown
for misappropriation of client funds as well as other violations in
two matters during the late 1980s and early 1990s. Because Brown’s
alcohol addiction was the substantial cause of the misconduct and because
Brown is now substantially rehabilitated, the board further recommends
that the court stay his disbarment and continue him on the probation
that went into place when he was reinstated to practice after his court-ordered
disability suspension was lifted. DR 1-102(A)(4), 9-103(A), and 9-103(B)
and Rules 1.3(a), 1.3(c), 1.4(a), 1.15(a), 1.15(b), 1.15(d), 1.16(d),
5.5(a), and 8.4(c).
In re Allan Ebert. Bar No. 444181. May 9, 2006. The Board on Professional
Responsibility recommends that the D.C. Court of Appeals disbar Ebert
In re Thomas Mooers. Bar No. 429538. May 22, 2006. The Board on Professional
Responsibility recommends that the D.C. Court of Appeals disbar Mooers
for his intentional and dishonest misappropriation of entrusted funds.
The board further recommends that the disbarment be stayed because Mooers
suffered from a major depression and anxiety at the time of his misconduct
from which he has substantially recovered. The board further recommends
that Mooers be placed on three years’ probation subject to the
conditions that (1) he continue in medical treatment; (2) his treating
doctor files regular written reports certifying that he remains in treatment
and is following the prescribed course of treatment, and his depression
remains under control; and (3) if he abandons treatment or refuses to
follow the treatment prescribed by his psychiatrist, he authorizes his
psychiatrist to advise the board and the Office of Bar Counsel of this
change. Rules 1.15(a) and 8.4(c).
In re Carren S. Oler. Bar No. 362582. May 3, 2006. The Board on Professional
Responsibility recommends that the D.C. Court of Appeals disbar Oler
In re John A. Scungio. Bar No. 428404. April 4, 2006. The Board on
Professional Responsibility recommends that the D.C. Court of Appeals
disbar Scungio by consent.
In re Bernard T. Thabault. Bar No. 376137. May 3, 2006. The Board on
Professional Responsibility recommends that the D.C. Court of Appeals
disbar Thabault by consent.
Jill Johnson Pennington. Bar No. 362592. April 25, 2006. In a reciprocal
matter from Maryland, the Board on Professional Responsibility recommends
that the D.C. Court of Appeals impose nonidentical reciprocal discipline
and suspend Pennington for 30 days, nunc pro tunc to September 13, 2005.
The Maryland Court of Appeals disbarred Pennington based upon a finding
of “misrepresentations[s] and ‘deceitful conduct.’”
The Maryland Court of Appeals found that Pennington violated Maryland
Rules 1.4, 1.7(b), 1.16(a), and 8.4(c) and (d).
In re James W. Sherman. Bar No. 85142. May 31, 2006. In a reciprocal
matter from Connecticut, the Board on Professional Responsibility imposed
identical reciprocal discipline and issued Sherman a board reprimand.
The Connecticut Superior Court, Hartford Judicial District, affirming
an order issued by the Connecticut Statewide Grievance Committee, reprimanded
Sherman for breaching his duty to take reasonable, practicable steps
to protect a client’s interests in ongoing litigation by failing
to advise the client adequately of (1) the impact of termination of
the legal representation upon the status of the lawsuit and (2) the
implications of the client failing to obtain new counsel or file a pro
In re Robert J. Weisbard. Bar No. 424616. May 31, 2006. In a consolidated
reciprocal matter from Colorado, the Board on Professional Responsibility
recommends that the D.C. Court of Appeals disbar Weisbard. In three
separate proceedings within a two-year period, the Colorado disciplinary
authorities suspended Weisbard twice for a period totaling 36 months
and subsequently disbarred him for misconduct in connection with 15
client matters. Weisbard’s misconduct involved a pattern of neglect
of client matters, coupled with dishonesty, failures to account, improper
withholding of client files, and disobedience of court orders.
Disciplinary Actions Taken by the District of Columbia Court of
In re Allan Ebert. Bar No. 444181. May 25, 2006. The D.C. Court of Appeals
disbarred Ebert by consent.
In re Dorsey Evans. Bar No. 3939. April 27, 2006. The D.C. Court of
Appeals suspended Evans for six months, with the requirement that he
complete six hours of continuing legal education classes in probate
law and legal ethics; that the final 90 days of his suspension be stayed
on the condition that he agree to be placed on probation for a period
of one year; that during the probationary period he be subject to oversight
by a practice monitor; and that failure to cooperate with the practice
monitor shall constitute a violation of his probation resulting in the
imposition of the stayed portion of his suspension. Evans, as owner
of a title company, agreed to assist a customer in handling a real estate
closing that would permit her to borrow against the equity in her house.
When he learned that his customer did not own the house, but might have
an interest in some part of it as heir to her former husband’s
estate, Evans agreed to petition the probate court to have his customer
appointed as co-personal representative of her former mother-in-law’s
estate. Then within days after her appointment, and before the six-month
period for claims had expired, Evans assisted his customer in transferring
title to all of the estate’s property to herself, ignoring the
rights of one of two direct heirs to 50 percent of the assets, so the
loan could be made and the house pledged as collateral for the loan.
At the loan closing, Evans paid his legal fees out of the loan proceeds
without first obtaining permission from the probate court for the amount
of his fee. Rules 1.1(a), 1.1(b), 1.7(b)(4), and 8.4(d).
In re John J. Harkins. Bar No. 190215. May 18, 2006. The D.C. Court
of Appeals suspended Harkins for 30 days for his conviction of misdemeanor
sexual abuse. The court found that crimes of a sexual nature violate
an attorney’s ethical obligation under Rule 8.4(b).
In re Carren S. Oler. Bar No. 362582. May 25, 2006. The D.C. Court
of Appeals disbarred Oler by consent.
In re James S. Powell. Bar No. 427084. May 4, 2006. The D.C. Court
of Appeals suspended Powell for one year with fitness for knowingly
making a false statement of material fact in connection with a bar admission
application; engaging in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit,
or misrepresentation; and engaging in conduct that seriously interferes
with the administration of justice. While subject to an interim suspension
by the D.C. Court of Appeals based on a criminal conviction, Powell
filed a sworn application for admission to the Bar of the United States
District Court for the District of Colorado wherein he failed to disclose
his admission to practice before the District of Columbia or his interim
suspension. Rules 8.1(a), 8.4(c), and 8.4(d).
In re John A. Scungio. Bar No. 428404. May 11, 2006. The D.C. Court
of Appeals disbarred Scungio by consent.
In re Edward L. Tezak. Bar No. 429121. May 4, 2006. The D.C. Court
of Appeals disbarred Tezak based on his conviction in the United States
District Court for the Western District of Washington, following the
entry of a guilty plea for the offense of wire fraud, in violation of
18 U.S.C. § 1343, and money laundering, in violation of 18 U.S.C.
§ 1956(a)(1)(B). Disbarment is mandated under D.C. Code §
11-2503(a) for Tezak’s conviction of wire fraud.
In re Richard G. Cervizzi. Bar No. 938282. April 27, 2006. In a reciprocal
matter from Maine, the D.C. Court of Appeals imposed identical reciprocal
discipline and disbarred Cervizzi. The Supreme Judicial Court of Maine
disbarred Cervizzi for failing to respond to inquiries by its board
and Bar Counsel; engaging in conduct unworthy of an attorney; violating,
circumventing, or subverting the Maine Bar Rules; engaging in illegal
conduct that adversely affects the lawyer’s honesty, trustworthiness,
or fitness as a lawyer; engaging in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud,
deceit, or misrepresentation; engaging in conduct prejudicial to the
administration of justice; failing to notify clients and attorneys or
adverse parties of his suspension or disbarment and failing to file
the required affidavit of compliance with the clerk and the board; failing
to act promptly to provide files requested by Bar Counsel and ordered
by the court; neglecting, refusing, or delaying to return files; and
knowingly making false statements, concealing information legally required
to be revealed, or participating in the creation or preservation of
In re Stanley Kirkland Foshee. Bar No. 420761. April 27, 2006. In a
reciprocal matter from Virginia, the D.C. Court of Appeals imposed identical
reciprocal discipline and suspended Foshee for three years, with reinstatement
subject to his satisfaction of the same conditions applicable to his
reinstatement in Virginia. The Virginia State Bar Disciplinary Board
suspended Foshee, as a result of an agreed-upon disposition, for engaging
in misconduct that included commission of a deliberately wrongful act
reflecting adversely on the lawyer’s fitness, dishonesty, charging
an unreasonable fee, failure to explain a contingent fee, unauthorized
practice of law, failure to provide competent representation, failure
to act promptly, failure to keep a client reasonably informed, intentional
failure to seek a client’s objectives, neglect, and intentionally
prejudicing or damaging a client, while retained to represent a client
in a personal injury matter.
In re David A. Jones. Bar No. 223933. May 4, 2006. In a reciprocal
matter from Pennsylvania, the D.C. Court of Appeals imposed identical
reciprocal discipline and disbarred Jones. For purposes of reinstatement,
Jones’s disbarment shall run from November 8, 1999. The Supreme
Court of Pennsylvania disbarred Jones for making unmeritorious claims
and contentions, knowingly making false statements to a tribunal, dishonesty,
and misconduct prejudicial to the administration of justice.
In re George E. Kersey. Bar No. 344499. April 27, 2006. In a reciprocal
matter from New Hampshire, the D.C. Court of Appeals imposed identical
reciprocal discipline and disbarred Kersey. The Supreme Court of New
Hampshire disbarred Kersey for knowingly disobeying its orders to hand
over his files and for practicing law while suspended.
In re Leslie Wayne Lickstein. Bar No. 272062. May 4, 2006. In a reciprocal
matter from the bankruptcy court, the D.C. Court of Appeals imposed
identical reciprocal discipline and suspended Lickstein for five years,
with reinstatement conditioned on fitness and compliance with the bankruptcy
court’s order of disgorgement. In a bankruptcy court settlement
Lickstein stipulated to a series of facts that reveal a pattern of deceptive
conduct. The bankruptcy court conditioned Lickstein’s reinstatement
on his disgorgement of $39,297.06 in legal fees.
In re Robert E. Miller. Bar No. 465792. April 20, 2006. In a reciprocal
matter from Florida, the D.C. Court of Appeals imposed identical reciprocal
discipline and suspended Miller for six months with fitness. The Supreme
Court of Florida’s sanction was based on stipulated facts that
showed that Miller, made co-trustee of an estate, had engaged in misconduct
including failure to deposit certain insurance proceeds into a segregated
escrow account and failure to ensure that his co-trustee properly and
prudently used trust monies for the benefit of the children of the settlor,
who later died.
In re Michael R. Scinto. Bar No. 442806. April 13, 2006. In a reciprocal
matter from New Jersey, the D.C. Court of Appeals imposed functionally
identical reciprocal discipline and publicly censured Scinto. The Supreme
Court of New Jersey reprimanded Scinto for filing false statements with
the Hoboken Rent Control Office in order to obtain illegal rents.
In re David M. Zolensky. Bar No. 379790. April 13, 2006. In a reciprocal
matter from Tennessee, the D.C. Court of Appeals imposed identical reciprocal
discipline and suspended Zolensky for 30 days. Zolensky was suspended
for 30 days in Tennessee and agreed to pay costs of $276, for practicing
law while suspended for failing to comply with continuing legal education
Informal Admonitions Issued by the Office of Bar Counsel
In re Claude O. Barrington. Bar No. 370477. April 19, 2006. Bar Counsel
issued Barrington an informal admonition for accepting a fee while serving
as counsel for the personal representatives. Barrington received the
fee from the estate’s assets before the period for the filing
of claims had expired and without seeking and obtaining authorization
from the probate court. Rules 1.1(a), 1.5(a), and 8.4(d).
In re Harvey Kirk. Bar No. 425174. May 5, 2006. Bar Counsel issued
Kirk an informal admonition for failing to notify and deliver promptly
to a third party settlement funds that the party was entitled to and
failing to train and supervise adequately nonlawyer employees within
his firm. Rules 1.15(a), 5.3(a), and 5.3(b).
In re B. Donovan Picard. Bar No. 923524. January 26, 2006. Bar Counsel
issued Picard an informal admonition for representing a client, albeit
in a separate legal matter, whose interests were in conflict with the
positions of other firm clients on the same legal issue pending before
the same court, without first gaining the informed consent of both sets
of clients. Rule 1.7(b).
In re Barbara A. Rice. Bar No. 452627. April 19, 2006. Bar Counsel
issued Rice an informal admonition for failing to respond to the opposing
parties’ post-trial motion for judgment in a landlord–tenant
matter, resulting in the court’s granting the opposing parties’
posttrial motion notwithstanding a jury verdict in favor of Rice’s
client. Rules 1.1(a), 1.1(b), 1.3(a), 1.3(b)(1), 1.3(c), 1.4(a), and
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’s Web site at www.dcbar.org/
for_lawyers/ethics/discipline/index.cfm. 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,
/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 firstname.lastname@example.org.