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In re Squillacote

January 17, 2002

IN RE THERESA M. SQUILLACOTE, RESPONDENT
A MEMBER OF THE BAR OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA COURT OF APPEALS



On Report and Recommendation of the Board on Professional Responsibility (BDN538-98)

Before Wagner, Chief Judge, and Schwelb and Farrell, Associate Judges.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Per Curiam

Argued December 7, 2001

Theresa Marie Squillacote, a member of our Bar, was convicted by a jury of (1) conspiracy to commit espionage, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 794 (a) & (c); (2) attempted espionage and aiding and abetting, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 2, 794 (a); (3) obtaining national defense information and aiding and abetting, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 2, 793 (b); and (4) making false official statements, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1001. Ms. Squillacote was sentenced to imprisonment for 262 months. Her convictions were affirmed on appeal. United States v. Squillacote, 221 F.3d 542 (4th Cir. 2000), cert. denied, 121 S. Ct. 1601 (2001).

On January 5, 1999, this court suspended Ms. Squillacote from practice and directed the Board on Professional Responsibility to determine the nature of the discipline that should be imposed by the court. The court specifically directed the Board to review the elements of the offenses to determine whether the crimes involve moral turpitude per se, and thus require disbarrment. See D.C. Code § 11-2503 (a) (2001).

On March 9, 2001, in a Report and Recommendation written by the Board's Chair, Ms. Patricia A. Brannan, a majority of the Board concluded that the three espionage-related offenses of which Ms. Squillacote was convicted constitute moral turpitude per se. One member of the Board, Mr. Paul L. Knight, dissented in a written opinion. A copy of the Board's Report and Recommendation, including Mr. Knight's dissent, is attached hereto as Attachment A. Both Bar Counsel and Ms. Squillacote excepted to the Board's recommendation, contending that the espionage-related offenses do not constitute moral turpitude per se.

The arguments on both sides of this issue have been ably presented in the majority and dissenting opinions set forth in Attachment A. The question is one of law, and we have independently reviewed the two opinions in the Board's Report, as well as the written and oral submissions of the Board and of the other parties. We conclude, substantially for the reasons stated in the opinion for the majority of the Board, that the espionage-related offenses constitute moral turpitude per se. Accordingly, Theresa M. Squillacote is hereby disbarred.

So ordered. *fn1

ATTACHMENT A

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA COURT OF APPEALS BOARD ON PROFESSIONAL RESPONSIBILITY

Bar Docket No. 538-98

In the Matter of: THERESA M. SQUILLACOTE, Respondent.

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION OF THE BOARD ON PROFESSIONAL RESPONSIBILITY

This matter comes before the Board on Professional Responsibility (the "Board") to determine the discipline to be imposed upon Respondent, a member of the Bar of the District of Columbia Court of Appeals (the "Court"). Respondent was convicted by the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia of conspiracy to commit espionage, attempted espionage, obtaining national defense information, and making a false statement. We conclude that because Respondent was convicted of a crime that involves moral turpitude per se, she should be automatically disbarred by the Court pursuant to D.C. Code § 11-2503(a).

Background

Procedural History

Respondent is a member of the Bar of the Court, having been admitted by examination on February 28, 1984. Brief of Bar Counsel at 1.

Respondent was indicted, along with two other co-defendants, in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Alexandria Division (the "District Court"), by the February 1998 Term of the Grand Jury. Indictment, United States v. Clark, Crim. No. 97-948-M (E.D. Va.). On October 23, 1998, she was found guilty by jury verdict of: (1) conspiracy to commit espionage, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 794(a), (c) ( "Count 1"); (2) attempted espionage and aiding and abetting, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 2, 794(a) ("Count 3") *fn2 [;] (3) obtaining national defense information and aiding and abetting, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 2, 793(b) ("Count 4"); and (4) false statements, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1001 ("Count 5"). Judgment, United States v. Squillacote, No. 98-CR-61-2 (E.D. Va Jan. 22, 1999) (Hilton, C.J.).

Bar Counsel filed a certified copy of the docket entry reflecting the findings of guilt with the Court on December 15, 1998; a certified copy of the judgment of conviction was later reported to the Court on February 12, 1999. On January 5, 1999, the Court suspended Respondent and directed the Board to institute a formal proceeding for determination of the nature of the final discipline to be imposed, and specifically to review the elements of the offenses for the purpose of determining whether or not the crimes involve moral turpitude within the meaning of D.C. Code § 11-2503(a). In re Squillacote, No. 98-BG-1847 (D.C. Jan. 5, 1999).

Bar Counsel filed a brief on February 1, 1999, arguing that the offenses at issue do not involve moral turpitude per se and recommending that the Board direct a hearing committee to consider whether Respondent's conduct involves moral turpitude on the facts. Respondent filed a response on October 2, 2000. While Respondent disagreed with many of Bar Counsel's characterizations of the activity that led to her conviction, she agreed that the matter should be referred to a hearing committee. After reviewing the initial filings from Bar Counsel and Respondent, the Board requested, by letter dated November 3, 2000, further briefing on why espionage should not be deemed to involve moral turpitude per se. In response, Bar Counsel ...


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