On Report and Recommendation of the Board on Professional Responsibility
Before Wagner, Chief Judge, and Ferren and Terry, Associate Judges.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Per Curiam
PER CURIAM: The Board on Professional Responsibility has recommended that respondent Jackson, a member of our bar, be suspended for six months for violating Disciplinary Rule (DR) 1-102 (A)(4), which prohibits an attorney from engaging in "conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation." A copy of the Board's report and recommendation, in slightly edited form, is appended to this opinion. Before this court neither Mr. Jackson nor Bar Counsel has challenged the Board's recommendation.
We conclude that the findings of the Board are supported by substantial evidence and that the proposed six-month suspension is an appropriate sanction. It is therefore
ORDERED that respondent, Clinton A. Jackson, is suspended from the practice of law in the District of Columbia for a period of six months, effective thirty days from the date of this opinion. We call respondent's attention to Rule XI, §§ 14 (f) and 16 (c), of the Rules Governing the Bar.
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA COURT OF APPEALS BOARD ON PROFESSIONAL RESPONSIBILITY
IN THE MATTER OF: CLINTON JACKSON, RESPONDENT
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION OF THE BOARD ON PROFESSIONAL RESPONSIBILITY
This matter is before the Board on the Report and Recommendation of Hearing Committee Number Five. The case arises from Respondent's preparation of a series of federal tax returns for his clients Gerald and Vita Wilkins. After an audit of two returns, the Internal Revenue Service disallowed substantial amounts of deductions, increased the applicable tax owed by the Wilkinses, and assessed penalties and interest. The Wilkinses brought a successful civil action for malpractice against Respondent and were awarded a judgment of $63,447.97, together with attorneys' fees and costs.
Bar Counsel initiated this disciplinary proceeding against Respondent on March 1, 1993. Two days of hearings were held by the Hearing Committee, and at their Conclusion, the Hearing Committee adopted a finding that Respondent had violated DR 1-102 (A)(4) (dishonesty and misrepresentation). The Hearing Committee subsequently recommended that Respondent be suspended for one year. Respondent filed an exception to the factual findings and proposed sanction. The Board heard oral argument in this matter on February 24, 1994. For the reasons set forth below, the Board concurs with the findings of fact and Conclusions of law of the Hearing Committee, but disagrees with the recommended sanction. The Board recommends a sanction of a six-month suspension.
Respondent is an attorney and certified public accountant (CPA). He became a CPA three or four years prior to his admission to practice before the D.C. Court of Appeals in 1984. He worked as an accountant with Arthur Andersen from 1977 until 1980-81. In 1984 he started his own business handling entertainment, real estate, tax, and a variety of financial matters.
Respondent met Gerald Wilkins in 1985 while he was working with Mr. Wilkins' brother, Dominique, who is also a professional basketball player. Respondent initially did some work for Gerald Wilkins at the time of his initial signing with the New York Knickerbockers ("Knicks"). Respondent helped to structure the compensation package given to Wilkins by the Knicks. Subsequently, in 1988, Wilkins requested that Respondent assist in the preparation of tax returns for years 1985, 1986, and 1987. Gerald Wilkins had not filed returns for these years and, in the process of obtaining an advance on a signing bonus, he was advised that he needed to get his taxes filed. Extensions for filing these returns were filed on Wilkins' behalf by Douglas Dyer, a banker who paid bills for Wilkins and other professional athletes by special arrangement.
Respondent sent Gerald Wilkins a "systemizer" for organizing his records. It was never completed. Instead, Respondent relied on information provided to him over the telephone by Respondent's wife, Vita Wilkins; Douglas Dyer; and various agents of Wilkins as well as employer representatives. Wilkins handed over the tax questions to his wife and Dyer since, as he testified, doing the tax systemizer "wasn't my cup of tea. . . . I was on my way to play basketball." Wilkins testified that he had no conversations or contact with Respondent concerning the returns between September 1988, when he requested Respondent to prepare the taxes, and December 1988, when he signed the returns which ...