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In re Matzkin

May 27, 2004


On Report and Recommendation of the Board on Professional Responsibility (BDN-241-01)

Before Steadman and Schwelb, Associate Judges, and Nebeker, Senior Judge.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Schwelb, Associate Judge

Submitted May 11, 2004

Concurring opinion by Associate Judge STEADMAN at page 5.

Sheldon I. Matzkin, now 77 years of age, was admitted to the District of Columbia Bar in 1962. On March 12, 1993, Matzkin was convicted in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia of conspiracy to defraud the United States in connection with a bribery scheme relating to his work as an attorney and consultant for defense contractors. He was sentenced to incarceration for 33 months. The trial judge imposed an enhanced sentence "because of there being more than one bribe" and because "the bribed official held a high-level sensitive position."

On February 1, 1994, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit affirmed Matzkin's conviction, as well as the sentencing enhancement. United States v. Matzkin, 14 F.3d 1014 (4th Cir. 1994). On October 26, 1995, this court concluded, as had the Board on Professional Responsibility, that Matzkin's conviction involved moral turpitude per se, and ordered that Matzkin be disbarred. In re Matzkin, 665 A.2d 1388, 1389-90 (D.C. 1995) (per curiam).

On June 15, 2001, Matzkin filed a petition for reinstatement. On September 21, 2001, an evidentiary hearing was held before an Ad Hoc Hearing Committee. On March 22, 2002, the Committee issued a comprehensive and thoughtful Report and Recommendation. The Committee recommended that the petition be denied. Upon considering and applying the five factors set forth in In re Roundtree, 503 A.2d 1215, 1217 (D.C. 1985), *fn1 the Committee stated, inter alia:

The Committee concludes that Petitioner has not met his burden under the Roundtree factors. The record contains little factual material to provide the Committee with any grounding to explain Petitioner's misconduct or to conclude that he has undergone any transformation. There is thus nothing in the record that would provide a basis for the Committee to conclude that Petitioner has acknowledged and learned from his misconduct. The evidence is overwhelming that Petitioner engaged in a long-running corrupt course of conduct that appears to have continued for approximately ten years. He was convicted of a serious crime. The record facts show that this was not a single action undertaken in a moment of weakness but a long-running criminal enterprise. The trial court concluded that he was involved in more than one bribe.

With these record facts on one side of the scales, there must be significant evidence on the other side that Petitioner has come to terms with his misconduct and that he has undergone some modicum of acknowledgment, awareness and transformation. The record here is utterly barren on these issues.

The Committee focused especially on Matzkin's failure to recognize the seriousness of his misconduct:

Roundtree and its progeny do not require a detailed confession of past wrongs. They do not require emotional testimony concerning redemption or rehabilitation. To impose such requirements would favor the Petitioner most schooled in the art of revealing emotions to persuade and manipulate. We do not believe that such requirements should be imposed on Petitioners seeking reinstatement.

Roundtree does require that clear and convincing evidence be presented that Petitioner recognizes his wrongdoing; has learned from his misconduct; and is thus presently better equipped to handle the ethical rigors of practicing law.

Petitioner has presented no such evidence. He remains locked in the same mindset that he was in during his criminal trial. He professes deep regret but then minimizes the misconduct that he supposedly regrets. Far from providing clear and convincing evidence of recognition, the Committee finds that Petitioner cannot even meet a preponderance of the evidence standard. The evidence, in fact, tilts strongly against any finding that Petitioner recognizes the seriousness of his offense.

To the extent that Petitioner recited the litany of regret the Committee finds that it was not credible. All professions of regret had to be extracted from Petitioner. They were followed by caveats and denials that ...

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