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In re Hook


December 14, 2006


Per curiam.

On Report and Recommendation of the Board on Professional Responsibility (BDN 027-06)

Before REID and FISHER, Associate Judges, and NEBEKER, Senior Judge.

On December 15, 2005, the Maryland Court of Appeals suspended the respondent, Steven R. Hook, from the practice of law for ninety days, effective January 17, 2006. The respondent was suspended as the result of a Joint Petition for Suspension by Consent which he filed with the Attorney Grievance Commission of Maryland. The respondent stipulated that sufficient evidence existed to support his violations of Maryland Rules of Professional Conduct 1.3 (diligence), 1.4 (failure to communicate), 5.3 (inadequate supervision of non-legal employees), 8.1 (b) (knowing failure to respond to a lawful demand for information from a disciplinary authority), and 8.4 (d) (conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice).*fn1

After the Office of Bar Counsel filed certified copies of the Maryland suspension notice and an order from the United States District Court for Maryland imposing the same sanction, this court temporarily suspended Mr. Hook pursuant to D.C. Bar R. XI, § 11 (d), and referred the matter to the Board on Professional Responsibility ("Board") for its recommendation on whether identical, greater, or lesser discipline should be imposed as reciprocal discipline, or whether it would proceed de novo. Shortly thereafter, on May 22, 2006, the Board received a letter from respondent with a Goldberg affidavit*fn2 and his D.C. Bar R. XI, § 14 (g) affidavit. Both were three days late.

The Board submitted its report and recommendation on September 12, 2006, and it recommends imposition of identical reciprocal discipline. Because of the rebuttable presumption favoring such discipline,*fn3 the lack of anything in the record to indicate that reciprocal discipline is inappropriate,*fn4 the fact that the proposed sanction is commensurate with those we have imposed in similar cases,*fn5 and our heightened deference to the Board when its recommendation is unopposed,*fn6 we hereby adopt the Board's recommendation and will suspend the respondent for ninety days.

The only problem in this case is determining the effective date of that suspension. Respondent was required to report his foreign discipline to Bar Counsel,*fn7 and he states that he reported the Maryland suspension to the "District of Columbia Bar." However, Bar Counsel states the underlying proceeding was not initiated until after his office received notice from the Maryland disciplinary authorities. Since respondent has been given the opportunity to clarify his affirmation, but has not done so, we hold that he is not entitled to nunc pro tunc treatment of his reciprocal suspension to the date that his foreign suspension began.*fn8 Respondent's D.C. Bar R. XI, § 14 (g) affidavit is similarly inadequate; both for technical reasons,*fn9 and more seriously, because it fails to address core requirements of that rule. Specifically, it does not indicate: 1) whether respondent has given notice to clients, if any, of his interim suspension; 2) whether he represents clients in non-litigated matters*fn10 and, if so, whether he has given them appropriate notice; and 3) the affidavit is vague on whether respondent represents clients who are not "on retainer." The Board concluded that respondent should be allowed to cure these deficiencies by supplement*fn11 provided that he submitted a compliant affidavit within ten days of its September 12 report and recommendation. But since that time has passed without our having been informed that respondent has complied, and there being no other indication on the question of his compliance, we need not address the propriety of the Board's conclusion. Therefore, it is

ORDERED that Steven R. Hook is suspended from the practice of law in the District of Columbia for a period of ninety days. The period of suspension shall begin to run from the date respondent files an affidavit which conforms to the requirements of D.C. Bar R. XI, § 14 (g).

So ordered.

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