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In re Glasco

District of Columbia Court of Appeals

March 25, 1999


Before Wagner, Chief Judge, and Reid, Associate Judge, and Kern, Senior Judge.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Per Curiam

Notice: This opinion is subject to formal revision before publication in the Atlantic and Maryland Reporters. Users are requested to notify the Clerk of the Court of any formal errors so that corrections may be made before the bound volumes go to press.

A Member of the Bar of the District of Columbia Court of Appeals

On Report and Recommendation of the Board on Professional Responsibility

Argued February 3, 199

The Board on Professional Responsibility (the Board) recommends that respondent A. George Glasco, admitted to the Bar of the District of Columbia in June 1975, be disbarred nunc pro tunc to August 12, 1992. The record reflects that this was the date upon which the Supreme Court of California had disbarred him for having been tried and convicted in California of grand theft and related charges.*fn1 The California Supreme Court has since then reinstated the respondent to its bar.

The Board concluded that disbarrment is the appropriate sanction in this case because under the circumstances here "identical reciprocal discipline should be imposed." D.C. Bar R. XI, § 11 (c); In re Zilberberg, 612 A.2d 832, 834 (D.C. 1992). Also the Board, citing to In re Goldberg, 460 A.2d 982 (D.C. 1983), recommends that respondent's disbarrment be made effective nunc pro tunc to the date of the California Supreme Court's disbarrment order. See also In re Gardner, 650 A.2d 693 (D.C. 1994) (reciprocal discipline imposed nunc pro tunc).

The Office of Bar Counsel (Bar Counsel) noted an exception to the Board's recommendation only "with respect to the timing of respondent's reciprocal disbarrment," arguing that "the effective date of respondent's suspension should commence on the date he was suspended in this jurisdiction."*fn2

The position of Bar Counsel is as follows:

"The record establishes that Respondent failed to advise disciplinary authorities in the District of Columbia in a timely manner either of his conviction in 1986 [in California] or of his disbarrment [in California] in 1992. Rather, Respondent so advised this jurisdiction only after his reinstatement in California some five years later, in 1997. Accordingly, the effective date of his reciprocal disbarrment here should commence September 18, 1997, the date of the Court's order of interim suspension [rather than the date of his California disbarrment, August 12, 1992]." [Emphasis added.]

Bar Counsel argues that the Board's recommendation in the instant case, if adopted by this court, "effectively would reward Respondent for his failure to notify this jurisdiction of either his criminal conviction or his disbarrment" and "denigrates" the important policy of encouraging "attorneys to honor their obligation to notify this jurisdiction of sanctions imposed by foreign disciplining courts."

We concluded in In re Goldberg, supra, 460 A.2d at 985, that the concurrence of reciprocal suspension "will be the norm." However, this court also provided: "Whether a particular suspension should be concurrent will depend to a considerable extent on the actions of the attorney involved." Id.

The Board in its Report noted and set forth the "extraordinary strides [of respondent] towards rehabilitating his reputation and his career," as well as the fact that "Respondent has never practiced in this jurisdiction, and did not practice anywhere after his suspension in 1986 until his reinstatement in California in February of 1997." (Emphasis added.) The Board also noted that the respondent brought his discipline to the attention of Bar Counsel and filed the affidavits required by and pursuant to D.C. Bar R. XI, § 14 (g).

Finally, in making its recommendation, the Board sought to avoid the unduly harsh result that would occur if disbarrment were to be prospective in this case. As the Board points out in its brief, prospective disbarrment would mean that respondent could not petition for reinstatement until 2002 -- sixteen years after his suspension and ten years after his disbarrment in California, even though he has refrained from the practice of law in the District for the past twenty-three years.*fn3

The Board appears in our view to be mindful of the need to remain vigilant in making certain that attorneys disciplined elsewhere "promptly" notify Bar Counsel and refrain from practicing law in this jurisdiction. Thus, the Board states:

"While Bar Counsel is correct that sound policy reasons support encouraging attorneys to notify this jurisdiction of foreign sanctions, according retroactive effect to Respondent's disbarrment should not have a detrimental effect on this policy goal. Respondent was solely responsible for bringing his conviction and disbarrment to Bar Counsel's attention; although the notice was filed late, Respondent stated that he believed the notice had been provided earlier by the California State Bar, and he did not exploit the lack of notice by using his District of Columbia license to practice. For these and the other unique circumstances presented by this case, it will have, as the Board noted, limited precedential value."

We are persuaded that the Board's recommendation should be adopted under the unique circumstances of this case and upon the assertion by the Board that the recommendation in its Report here neither contravenes nor undermines the policy of Bar Rule XI.*fn4

Accordingly, respondent is disbarred, effective nunc pro tunc to August 12, 1992.

So ordered.

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