Georgia lawyer Arjun Kapoor was accused of committing acts of domestic violence. That is a bad thing. But the allegations came through a Family Crisis Center, and Kapoor decided to find out more about the allegations. He demanded the documents held by the Center. They rejected his demands, so he made misrepresentations to the local clerk to obtain a Subpoena Duces Tecum for the evidence. The Center knew what it was doing, so it ignored the subpoena and made a report.
The Georgia Supreme Court was not pleased. He was charged by the Disciplinary authorities, and tried to work matters out. Twice rejected for a “slap on the wrist” by the hearing officer, the recommendation was for a public reprimand. The Court found acts of Misrepresentation – violation of GA Rule 8.4(a)(4)(a) [differently numbered than the Indiana RPC] and imposed discipline.
Resigning with Pending Troubles?
Recently several lawyers have “resigned” their licenses while facing criminal charges. One reported in IBJ on June 18, David Rees was convicted and sentenced to four years home detention, two years probation and restitution, for stealing more than $270,000 from an estate he was managing. (The story does not say what happened to the balance of the $400,000 found missing, that was under Rees’ control.)
In Jan, 2013 Rees resigned his license on what appears from the Supreme Court docket as the day disciplinary charges were filed against him.
In June 2012 Bill Conour resigned his license, a month after charges were filed against him by the Disc. Comm.
These cases come under the Admission and Discipline Rules. A conflict appears to exist between Rule 2(L) which prohibits “withdrawing from the practice” while under accusation, and Rule 23(§17), where the provisions allow for such resignations.
Read these Admission & Discipline Rules for context:
Rule 2(l). Affidavit of Permanent Withdrawal. An attorney in good standing, who is current in payment of all applicable registration fees and other financial obligations imposed by these rules, and who is not the subject of an investigation into, or a pending proceeding involving, allegations of misconduct, who desires to relinquish permanently his or her license to practice law in the State of Indiana may do so by tendering an Affidavit of Permanent Withdrawal from the practice of law in this State to the Executive Secretary of the Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission. The Executive Secretary shall promptly verify the eligibility of the attorney to resign under this section, and if eligible, forward a certification of eligibility, together with the Affidavit of Permanent Withdrawal to the Clerk of the Indiana Supreme Court, and the Clerk shall show on the roll of attorneys that the attorney’s Indiana law license has been relinquished permanently and that the lawyer is no longer considered an attorney licensed to practice law in the State of Indiana.
Rule 23. Section 17. Resignations and Consents to Discipline on Admission of Misconduct
(a) An attorney who is the subject of an investigation into, or a pending proceeding involving, allegations of misconduct may resign as a member of the bar of this Court, or may consent to discipline, but only by delivering an affidavit and five copies to the Supreme Court Administration Office and providing a copy to the Commission. The affidavit shall state that the respondent desires to resign or to consent to discipline and that:
(1) The respondent’s consent is freely and voluntarily rendered; he or she is not being subjected to coercion or duress; he or she is fully aware of the implications of submitting his or her consent;
(2) The respondent is aware that there is a presently pending investigation into, or proceeding involving, allegations that there exist grounds for his or her discipline the nature of which shall be specifically set forth;
(3) The respondent acknowledges that the material facts so alleged are true; and
(4) The respondent submits his or her resignation or consent because the respondent knows that if charges were predicated upon the matters under investigation, or if the proceeding were prosecuted, he or she could not successfully defend himself or herself.
(b) Upon receipt of the required affidavit in support of resignation, this Court may enter an order approving the resignation. In the case of consent to discipline, the Commission and the respondent may file a brief regarding an appropriate sanction within thirty (30) days of delivery of the required affidavit. The Court shall then enter an order imposing a disciplinary sanction on consent.
(c) An order entered under (b) above shall be a matter of public record. However, the affidavit required under the provisions of (a) above shall not be publicly disclosed or made available for use in any other proceeding except upon order of this Court.
That provision in (c) causes some concern, since an affidavit confessing the violation of the rules ought to carry some weight in other matters, if admissible.
Also, a distinction (without much difference) may exist between “resignation” and “permanent withdrawal” as Rees and Conour are eligible to petition for reinstatement in 5 years, while those withdrawing must get in through the Bar Exam or under another provision.
It seems a lawyer who offers to withdraw the law license, and is without a pending problem, should have less trouble seeking reinstatement. Practically, Rees and Conour will never practice again.
Epidemic of Suicides in KY
Half a dozen suicides by lawyers in Kentucky has prompted increased concern. The Indiana Law Blog excerpted a story from the Louisville Courier Journal on the issue.
All were men, most were trial lawyers, and the average age was 53.
Indiana Judges and Lawyers Assistance Program–JLAP–is available to assist lawyers troubled with their practice.
I have not seen a current table or story on Indiana lawyers, but know of too many who have used a permanent solution for a temporary problem. The 2010 Legal Education Conclave focused a session on Resiliency in the Face of Stress, for law students and the practicing bar and bench. More still needs to be done.
Poll Question Result: The Georgia Supreme Court rejected a public reprimand and suspended Kapoor for six months from the practice of law.