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In re Sobin

November 10, 1994

IN RE: DARRIN PAUL SOBIN, APPLICANT. AN APPLICANT FOR ADMISSION TO THE BAR OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA COURT OF APPEALS


On Report and Recommendation of the Committee on Admissions for the District of Columbia Bar

Before King and Sullivan, Associate Judges, and Belson, Senior Judge.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Sullivan

SULLIVAN, Associate Judge: Darrin Paul Sobin passed the July 1992 Bar examination for the District of Columbia and is an applicant for admission to the Bar. The Committee on Admissions (Committee) recommended that Sobin be admitted to the Bar, despite Sobin's felony convictions for conspiracy to manufacture a controlled substance and aiding and abetting both interstate prostitution and interstate transportation in aid of interstate racketeering. *fn1 We conclude, considering the totality of the circumstances, that Sobin has established that he has the present good moral character required for admission to the Bar. Accordingly, we grant his application for admission.

I.

In 1977, when Sobin was eleven years old, his mother and father started an escort business. In 1982, when Sobin was sixteen years old, his mother asked him to work in the business part-time answering telephones. Sobin agreed to do so, and was compensated at the rate of four dollars an hour. Although as Sobin got older he began to question whether the escort business was involved in prostitution or other illegal activity, he continued to work in the service throughout his second year of college. *fn2

In mid 1985, at the age of nineteen, Sobin decided to leave his mother's escort business and in the summer of 1985 went to California to work on his uncle's cattle ranch. Shortly after his arrival, Sobin's mother arrived in California and decided to start marijuana farming. Sobin explained to his uncle that he did not want to be involved in the marijuana operation, and his uncle agreed that he would continue to work exclusively for the cattle ranch. Soon after this conversation, however, his uncle decided that the marijuana operation was being poorly run, and Sobin gave in to his uncle's demands to help out with the marijuana crop. Over the next six weeks, Sobin irrigated the marijuana plants, dug ditches, gathered and laid pipes and opened taps.

As Sobin packed up to return to school in Washington, D.C., he was detained by law enforcement authorities who arrived to execute a search warrant on his uncle's property. After his return to Washington, D.C., Sobin learned that he had been indicted in California on federal charges relating to the marijuana operation. *fn3

On May 19, 1987, at age twenty-one, Sobin pled guilty in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California to one felony count of conspiracy to manufacture a controlled substance. Sobin received a suspended sentence, and was placed on probation for five years, with the requirement that he perform 200 hours of community service.

Meanwhile, in the course of executing search warrants in connection with the marijuana operation, the California authorities discovered records relating to his mother's escort service in Washington. As a, result, of the California search, and a subsequent Washington search of Sobin's residence, Sobin was indicted, in the District of Columbia in 1987 on a number of charges relating to his mother's escort service.

In September 1987, Sobin and fourteen other defendants Went to trial in the District of Columbia and were convicted on all counts. Specifically, Sobin was convicted of one count of aiding and abetting in interstate prostitution in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2421 (1988), and four counts of aiding and abetting interstate transportation in aid of interstate racketeering in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 2, 1952 (1988).

On July 14, 1988, United States District Court Judge June L. Green suspended Sobin's sentence and placed him on two years probation with a requirement that he perform 200 hours of community service. The sentence imposed on Sobin, who was twenty-two years old at the time, was under the federal youth corrections act (since repealed) in order to permit expungement of his record. *fn4 Sobin received early discharges from both terms of probation. *fn5

II.

Rule 46 provides that bar applicants must demonstrate good moral character and fitness to practice law. D.C. App. R. 46 (d) *fn6 and (e). *fn7 In reviewing recommendations of the Committee on Admissions, we stated in In re Mustafa, 631 A.2d 45 (D.C. 1993) that "this court will accept findings of fact made by the Committee unless they are unsupported by substantial evidence of record, will make due allowance for the Committee's opportunity to observe and evaluate the demeanor of the applicant where relevant, and will afford the Committee's recommendations some deference . . . ." Mustafa, supra, 631 A.2d at 47 (citations omitted). Moreover, a criminal conviction does not per se require exclusion of the applicant from, the Bar. See, In re Polin, 630 A.2d 1140 (D.C. 1993) (Polin II) (applicants admitted, six and one half years after his conviction for cocaine distribution); In re Manville, 538 A.2d 1128, 1132 (D.C. 1988) (en banc) (Manville II) (applicants admitted after convictions ...


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