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In re Luvara

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA COURT OF APPEALS


February 7, 2008

IN RE DAVID F. LUVARA, RESPONDENT.
A MEMBER OF THE BAR OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA COURT OF APPEALS (BAR REGISTRATION NO. 371001)

Per curiam.

On Report and Recommendation of the Board on Professional Responsibility (BDN 290-04)

Submitted February 1, 2008*fn1

Before RUIZ and BLACKBURNE-RIGSBY, Associate Judges, and NEBEKER, Senior Judge.

The Board on Professional Responsibility recommends that respondent, David F. Luvara, be disbarred. Respondent was admitted to the Bar of the District of Columbia Court of Appeals on June 20, 1983. On March 15, 2004, respondent was convicted in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, of one count of conspiracy (a felony), one count of intimidation of a witness (a felony), and one count of obstructing the administration of law or other government function (a misdemeanor). On December 18, 2006, respondent's conviction was affirmed by the Superior Court of Pennsylvania. Reconsideration was denied on March 13, 2007.*fn2 Neither respondent nor Bar Counsel takes exception to the Board's recommendation.

In the District of Columbia, disbarrment is mandatory where a member of the Bar is convicted of "an offense involving moral turpitude." D.C. Code § 11-2503 (a) (2001). "A crime may involve moral turpitude either 'inherently,' i.e., by consideration strictly of its statutory elements . . . or on the facts of a particular case." In re Carpenter, 891 A.2d 223 (D.C. 2006) (internal citation omitted). The Board in this case concluded that intimidation of a witness under the Pennsylvania statute constitutes a crime of moral turpitude per se, a question of law which we review de novo. See In re Kerr, 611 A.2d 551, 553 (D.C. 1992). In doing so, we analyze the statute of the criminal offense under which respondent was convicted, examining whether "the least culpable offender under the terms of the statute necessarily engages" in conduct involving moral turpitude. In re Squillacote, 790 A.2d 514, 517 (D.C. 2002).

A crime necessarily involves moral turpitude if it is "contrary to justice, honesty, modesty, or good morals." In re Colson, 412 A.2d 1160, 1168 (D.C. 1979) (en banc).

Respondent was convicted of violating 18 PA. CONS. STAT. § 4952 (2002), which requires "intent . . . or . . . knowledge that his conduct will obstruct, impede, impair, prevent or interfere with the administration of criminal justice."*fn3 This mens rea requirement establishes that the least culpable offender convicted under the statute has committed an act that is "contrary to justice." The crime is similar to the offense of obstruction of justice, which we have held to involve moral turpitude in that the offender knowingly or intentionally disregards the system of law and due process that defines our civilized society. See In re Colson, 412 A.2d at 1165; see also In re Shillaire, 549 A.2d 336, 345 (D.C. 1988) (concluding that "threatening a witness, which is closely related to obstruction of justice . . . is deeply offensive to the moral code of our community, and indeed any community that hopes to remain civilized" (internal quotation marks omitted)). We, therefore, agree with the Board that intentionally or knowingly intimidating a witness is a crime of moral turpitude per se. Accordingly, it is

ORDERED that David F. Luvara is disbarred from the practice of law in the District of Columbia.

So ordered.


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