July 21, 2005
IN RE MICHAEL O. BURNETT, RESPONDENT.
A MEMBER OF THE BAR OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA COURT OF APPEALS BAR REGISTRATION NO. 430523
On Report and Recommendation of the Board on Professional Responsibility (BDN 105-01, 150-02, & 247-02)
Submitted July 12, 2005
Before: GLICKMAN, Associate Judge and NEWMAN and KERN, Senior Judges.
In this original disciplinary proceeding against respondent Michael O. Burnett, the Board on Professional Responsibility ("Board") recommends that he be suspended for 30 days with reinstatement conditioned on his responding to Bar Counsel's inquiries in pending investigations and demonstrating fitness to practice law.*fn1
On April 11, 2003, Bar Counsel filed a specification of charges citing respondent for violating Rules 8.1 and 8.4 (d) of the District of Columbia Rules of Professional Conduct and D.C. Bar R. XI, § 2(b)(3).*fn2 Although respondent was personally served, he did not respond to the charges or participate in the ensuing proceedings before the hearing committee or the Board. The charges were based on respondent's total failure to respond or cooperate with Bar Counsel in the investigation of three other disciplinary complaints that were filed against him in 2001 and 2002 (in Bar Docket Nos.150-01, 150-02 and 247-02) and that were still open. On November 18, 2003, following an evidentiary hearing, the Hearing Committee issued its report and recommendation finding that respondent had knowingly violated the cited rules. No exceptions to the Hearing Committee's Report and Recommendation were filed by either Bar Counsel or respondent, and its findings were adopted by the Board. The Board recommends that respondent be suspended for 30 days with reinstatement conditioned upon his answering Bar Counsel's inquiries in the three open investigations and demonstrating his fitness to practice law.
There is substantial support in the record for the Hearing Committee's and Board's findings, and we therefore accept them. D.C. Bar Rule XI, § 9 (g). Further, as no exception has been taken to the Board's recommendation, we give it heightened deference and will adopt it so long as it lies within the scope of sanctions rendered in comparable cases. See D.C. Bar Rule XI, § 9 (g)(2); In re Delaney, 697 A.2d. 1212, 1214 (D.C. 1997) (internal citations omitted).
We repeatedly have held that an attorney's failure to respond to Bar Counsel's inquiries in an investigation of a disciplinary complaint or to obey an order of the Board to do so violates Rules 8.1(b) and 8.4(d); D.C. Bar Rule XI, § 2 (b) specifically states, moreover, that failure to comply with a Board order is grounds for discipline. See, e.g., In re Delaney, supra; In re Beller, 802 A.2d 340, 341 (D.C. 2002). Where, as in this case, the attorney has demonstrated a persistent pattern of indifference toward the disciplinary procedures by which the D.C. Bar regulates itself, a thirty-day suspension coupled with the reinstatement conditions proposed by the Board is supported by our cases. See, e.g., In re Lockie, 649 A.2d 546, 547 (D.C. 1994); see also Delaney, 697 A.2d at 1213-14. Accordingly, it is
ORDERED that Michael O. Burnett be and hereby is suspended for 30 days with reinstatement conditioned on both his responding to the inquiries of Bar Counsel in the pending disciplinary investigations and his demonstrating fitness to practice law. We direct respondent's attention to the requirements of D.C. Bar R. XI, § 14 (g), and their effect on his eligibility for reinstatement. See D.C. Bar R. XI, § 16 (c)..