Original Opinion of May 26, 1990,
En Banc. Rogers, Chief Judge, and Newman, Ferren, Belson, Terry, Steadman, Schwelb, and Farrell, Associate Judges. Opinion for the court by Associate Judge Belson. Opinion by Associate Judge Farrell, Concurring. Opinion by Associate Judge Terry, with whom Associate Judge Newman, joins, Dissenting.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Belson
Paul Thomas Demos II is an applicant for admission to the Bar of the District of Columbia. The Committee on Admissions recommended unanimously that Demos' application be denied, and has twice reiterated that recommendation after further proceedings. The Committee found that Demos failed to demonstrate his good moral character and fitness to practice law. We agree with the Committee's reasons for recommending denial of admission. Accordingly, we deny the application of Paul Thomas Demos II for admission to the Bar of the District of Columbia. *fn1
Demos' efforts to gain admission to the Bar of the District of Columbia began after he received a J.D. degree from the Potomac School of Law in 1982. He was unsuccessful in both the July 1982 and the February 1983 District of Columbia Bar examinations. He petitioned, however, for a regrading of the February 1983 examination, and received a passing score.
In the first of its unanimous recommendations against Demos' admission, the Committee considered behavior by Demos in the state of New Mexico. While working as a law clerk in the office of his father, a member of the bars of New Mexico and the District of Columbia, Demos participated as an attorney in the deposition of a witness in a workers' compensation action on June 24, 1983. In this deposition, Demos, as the sole representative of his law firm present, asked questions of the person being deposed and failed to inform opposing counsel of his non-lawyer status. His irregular participation in that deposition while not admitted to practice resulted in a hearing on June 27, 1983, before the Honorable Michael Martinez, a state trial Judge of the state of New Mexico. In the course of the hearing before Judge Martinez, Demos represented that he had already passed the D.C. bar exam, even though in fact he was still awaiting action on his petition to regrade his bar exam essays in hopes of improving his score of 69.95 to a passing grade, and also represented that he had graduated from Antioch Law School when instead he had graduated from the Potomac School of Law. Judge Martinez eventually held Demos in contempt of court because of his participation in the deposition. The court, however, permitted Demos to purge the contempt by paying the expenses of the opposing party.
In its original consideration of this matter, the Committee on Admissions addressed certain misrepresentations contained in Demos' response to the supplemental questionnaire sent to successful takers of the D.C. bar examination. Demos' answers failed to disclose that he had been held in contempt by Judge Martinez, although the form clearly called for revelation of that action. Demos presented evidence, which the Committee accepted, that the form had been filled out in his behalf by a friend while Demos was absent on vacation. The Committee did not view Demos' response to the supplemental questionnaire as a deliberate effort to conceal information, but rather as a failure to exercise due care in the handling of his affairs. It concluded that its submission did "not rise to the level of dishonesty or a lack of good moral character." Committee on Admissions Findings and Conclusions on Moral Character and Fitness to Practice, December 18, 1984, at 6.
The Committee did find, however, that the evidence supported a finding that Demos had engaged in the un-authorized practice of law 4 the State of New Mexico. *fn2 Id. The Committee recognized, however, that the applicant's father and another attorney in his office shared much of the blame for Demos' unauthorized practice of law. Id. It also found that "applicant was not honest and forthright in his testimony at the hearing [before Judge Martinez], as well as before the Committee at formal hearing." *fn3 Id. The Committee went on to conclude that Demos had deliberately attempted to mislead the New Mexico court and that the record as a whole "shows that he exhibited a callous disregard for the truth while under oath." Id.
While Demos' application for admission and the report of the Admissions Committee were pending before this court, the Committee received information from the Character and Fitness Division of the Board of Law Examiners of the Supreme Court of Texas regarding (1) another judgment of contempt against Demos that was issued March 6, 1985, by the County Court of Rockwall County, Texas, (2) a conviction for assault entered against Demos on that same date by that court, *fn4 and (3) an investigation by the State Bar of Texas into possible unauthorized practice of law by Demos. *fn5 This court authorized the Committee on Admissions to supplement its record regarding Demos in view of the additional information from Texas. A further formal hearing was scheduled for April 1, 1986, but Demos failed to appear. The Committee thereafter issued its Supplemental Report and Recommendation on March 18, 1987, signed for the Committee by its Chair, which expressed, without Dissent, its continued unwillingness to certify Demos' admission.
Subsequently, Demos informed the Committee that he had not received notice of the second formal hearing and, consequently, the Committee scheduled a third formal hearing for September 17, 1987. Demos appeared and offered evidence at that hearing. Thereafter, in its Second Supplemental Report and Recommendation dated May 23, 1988, the Committee evaluated Demos' explanation of the matters that had arisen in Texas, and then reevaluated his application in light of pertinent case law and the rules of this court. The Committee recommended, once again without Dissent, that the court deny admission to Demos.
In its Discussion, the Committee indicated that it remained of the opinion that the entry of the Texas judgment of contempt against Demos "is evidence of the applicant's Jack of respect for the judiciary and reflects poorly upon his competence to comport himself in the manner expected of a member of the District of Columbia Bar." Second Supplemental Report, May 23, 1988, at 6. The Committee also expressed its grave concern about statements in his brief which, in the Committee's view, indicated his lack of respect for the judiciary. The Committee was referring to the following passage in Demos' supplemental brief in support of his application for admission:
Furthermore, the Applicant is in agreement with the Committee's statement that "his actions shows (sic) his lack of respect for the Rockwall County judiciary[."]
The Applicant cannot respect a judiciary system set on political favors, a system in which the Judge has no legal qualifications, of one that uses the law for their own personal gain, and on (sic which attempts to intimidate and humiliate those who are willing to speak the truth.
The Applicant further states that he cannot respect such a system anymore tha he can respect a government that defies its own laws and constitution by supplying arms and money to the rebels of Nicaragua, by maintaining secret bank accounts, and ...