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In re Ramos

November 4, 2004

IN RE ANTHONY E. RAMOS, APPLICANT. IN THE MATTER OF AN APPLICATION FOR ADMISSION TO THE BAR OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA COURT OF APPEALS (APPLICATION NO. 32834)


Before Schwelb and Glickman, Associate Judges, and Newman, Senior Judge.

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

Argued October 14, 2004

On January 30, 2004, this court's Committee on Admissions ("COA") recommended, without holding a hearing, that the application of Anthony E. Ramos for admission to our Bar be denied, because Ramos is currently disbarred in Florida, the jurisdiction of his original bar admission. We conclude that Ramos was entitled to a hearing pursuant to D.C. App. R. 46 (f)(1), and we remand the case to the COA with directions to hold such a hearing.

I. BACKGROUND

On April 2, 1981, Ramos was admitted to the Florida Bar. This was his first and only bar admission. Ramos thereafter maintained a private law practice in Florida.

On December 18, 1997, the Supreme Court of Florida issued an order disbarring Ramos in that jurisdiction. The order stated, in pertinent part, as follows:

[Ramos] is disbarred effective immediately. No application for readmission to the Florida Bar will be permitted for a period of twenty (20) years. [Ramos] is also ordered to make restitution as stated in the referee's report.

The Florida Bar v. Ramos, 703 So. 2d 478 (Fla. 1997) (per curiam).

Ramos subsequently applied for admission to the District of Columbia Bar. He failed the District of Columbia Bar examination in February 2001, but passed it in July 2002. In his application for admission, Ramos disclosed the following facts:

With respect to question 10 [re ever disqualified from practicing law]: As a result of employee embezzlement of trust funds, I have been disbarred from the practice of law in the Federal and State Courts for the State of Florida, as of November 1997. With respect to question 13 [re complaints alleging fraud, deceit, etc.]: Yes, part of the disciplinary proceedings involved allegations of forgery. In addition, there is ongoing litigation on issues surrounding the trust account.

With respect to question 22 [re violations of law]: Yes, I was tried on two counts of grand theft, resulting from the trust account issues. The jury was deadlocked, and my motion for mistrial was granted. The case was settled the next day with a plea in my best interest to two counts of petit theft, a misdemeanor, withhold adjudication, full rights of expungement, one year probation, no factual basis on the plea, five hours per month of community service.

As a result of these disclosures, and after reviewing additional information and materials submitted by Ramos, the COA notified Ramos on March 12, 2003, that it declined to certify him for admission at that time. Five days later, Ramos requested a formal hearing pursuant to Rule 46 (f)(1). In conformity with Rule 46 (f)(2)(ii), the COA apprised Ramos of its reasons for declining to certify him for admission:

The Committee has considered the following: (1) your disbarrment from the practice of law in the State of Florida on December 18, 1997, for embezzlement of trust funds; and (2) lack of evidence in the file showing satisfaction of the judgment against you entered by the Supreme Court of Florida on December 18, 1997, for costs in the amount of $34,590.76.

Until July 2003, the COA had intended to provide Ramos with a Rule 46 (f)(1) hearing at which he could challenge the COA's refusal to certify him. On July 24, 2003, however, this court issued its opinion in In re Mbakpuo, 829 A.2d 217 (D.C. 2003) (per curiam). In Mbakpuo, a case in which the petitioner had been disbarred in Ohio, the court stated, inter alia, that "we cannot grant petitioner's District of Columbia bar application until he has successfully regained his license to practice in Ohio." Id. at 220. The COA construed Mbakpuo as standing for a universal "bright line" rule that where an applicant has been disbarred in the jurisdiction of his original admission to practice, and where he has not regained his license to practice law in that jurisdiction, he is automatically ineligible for admission to our Bar. ...


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