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In re Domingues

March 22, 2001

IN RE E. JOHN DOMINGUES, RESPONDENT.
A MEMBER OF THE BAR OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA COURT OF APPEALS



Before Schwelb, Associate Judge, and Gallagher and Mack, Senior Judges.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Per Curiam

On Report and Recommendation of the Board on Professional Responsibility

Submitted October 3, 2000

I.

On January 13, 1999, the Court of Appeals of Maryland ordered that respondent E. John Domingues be suspended indefinitely from practice in Maryland with the right to apply for reinstatement after nine months, and required Domingues to engage at his own expense a monitor who would oversee his practice for two years and report regularly to Maryland Bar Counsel. Domingues consented to the order of the Maryland Court.

On April 14, 1999, this court entered an order temporarily suspending Domingues from the practice of law in the District of Columbia pursuant to D.C. Bar R. XI § 11 (d) pending the District of Columbia Board on Professional Responsibility's ("Board") determination as to whether reciprocal discipline should be imposed. On December 20, 1999, after he had been reinstated in Maryland subject only to the monitoring requirement, Domingues petitioned for reinstatement without further investigation, examination, or proof.

On January 6, 2000, this court followed the District of Columbia Bar Counsel's ("Bar Counsel") recommendation and denied the petition but, in light of Bar Counsel's consent, vacated the interim suspension of April 14, 1999, pending final resolution on reciprocal discipline and reserving the authority to impose greater discipline at such time.

II.

The facts underlying the charges in Maryland are not developed completely in the record because respondent consented to an indefinite suspension in Maryland before a full hearing had been carried out.

The recommendation of our Board is based on the fact findings of an inquiry panel of the Attorney Grievance Commission of Maryland ("inquiry panel"). *fn1 Domingues attached the findings of the inquiry panel to the answer and affidavit he filed with the Board on April 26, 1999, and he asserted that the report of the inquiry panel contained a review of the evidence and a conclusion that were both fair, such that he was willing to stipulate to the findings and conclusion therein.

The Maryland inquiry panel found that, upon the dissolution of his law firm, *fn2 Domingues transferred monies from the firm's escrow account into a new escrow account. Mistakenly believing that some of the funds were fees due to him, respondent improperly transferred those funds into his operating account. *fn3 Further, the inquiry panel found, respondent failed to implement and follow procedures that would have alerted him to the misdeeds of his partner in the dissolved firm.

Noting that respondent's attention had been much consumed by lengthy and contentious litigation regarding custody of his own children, the inquiry panel concluded that respondent's actions constituted negligent misappropriation, but that none of his transgressions were intentional.

III.

As reciprocal discipline, our Board recommends that a nine-month suspension would be equivalent to Maryland's indefinite suspension with the right to reapply after nine months, and that such a measure falls within the range of sanctions imposed by this court for like violations. See, e.g., In re Harrison, 461 A.2d 1034, 1036 (D.C. 1983). The Board further recommends that the suspension be imposed nunc pro tunc to January 13, 1999, because Domingues timely filed his ...


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