What Happens When An Attorney Is Suspended Or Disbarred? You have to Notify “Concerned Parties” Which Attorney Deborah Ann Eldridge Repeatedly Did Not Do

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Bottom line is Attorney Eldridge did not properly inform people that she had "suspended" to practice law. Hardly seems like something you woould innocently forget.

What Happens When An Attorney Is Suspended Or Disbarred? You have to Notify "Concerned Parties" Which Attorney Deborah Ann Eldridge Repeatedly Did Not Do

When an attorney is suspended from practice, he or she is generally obligated to so notify current clients, opposing counsel and the courts in each case in which an appearance has been entered.

Most places require an affidavit demonstrating compliance. 

Some places take that obligation seriously; others do not.

California does.

Attorneys there  are regularly prosecuted - and are subject to tough sanctions - for the failure to comply with the notification and affidavit obligations.

An unpublished opinion of the California State Bar Court Review Department concludes that an attorney failed to comply with the notification requirements ordered as part of a two year suspension.

we affirm the hearing judge’s finding that Eldridge willfully violated rule 9.20, but also find her culpable for moral turpitude by gross negligence for filing a false compliance affidavit. We affirm the judge’s finding in aggravation for Eldridge’s prior discipline and assign it significant weight because the prior misconduct was serious and similar to the misconduct here. We also affirm the judge’s mitigation findings for good character, emotional difficulties, and remorse, but do not allow mitigation for lack of harm.

The Review Department further concluded that progressive discipline requires a three-year suspension.

In this matter, the attorney had failed to properly notify four clients of her suspension

Eldridge argues that she had only “imperfect compliance” because she had either substituted out or withdrawn from each case on May 26, 2010, the day before the effective date of her suspension. However, as the hearing judge found, Eldridge’s assertion that withdrawing as of May 26, 2010, immunized her from rule 9.20’s requirements is not supported by case law. To the contrary, case law is well settled that strict compliance with rule 9.20 is required because the rule “performs the critical prophylactic function of ensuring that all concerned parties— including clients, co-counsel, opposing counsel or adverse parties, and any tribunal in which litigation is pending—learn about an attorney’s discipline.” (Lydon v. State Bar (1988) 45 Cal.3d 1181, 1187, citing Durbin v. State Bar (1979) 23 Cal.3d 461, 467-468 [referring to former rule 9.55, previous version of rule 9.20].) The operative date for identification of clients being represented in pending matters and others to be notified under rule 9.20 is the filing date of the Supreme Court order for compliance, not the later effective date. (Athearn v. State Bar (1982) 32 Cal.3d 38, 45 [rule 9.55 clearly contemplates advance notice to existing clients— notice to clients at effective date of Supreme Court order does not comply].) Therefore, Eldridge had to provide written notice, as required by rule 9.20, for cases that were pending as of the April 27, 2010, filing date of the Supreme Court’s order, and her failure to do so establishes her culpability.

And the lapse involved the dread moral turpitude

We find that Eldridge’s misrepresentations were made with gross negligence amounting to moral turpitude because she recklessly failed to carefully and accurately fill out the rule 9.20 declaration. The Supreme Court has held that gross negligence can constitute moral turpitude— both when the behavior impacts an attorney’s duties to a client and when it affects non-clients.

The Review Department accepted the findings below on mitigation but nonetheless increased the sanction proposed  by the hearing department by a year, noting that the misconduct involved a false affidavit.  

In the District of Columbia, the only significant consequence of not filing the required affidavit is that the time for serving the suspension does not start for reinstatement purposes until a  compliant affidavit is filed.

 until the § 14(f) affidavit is filed, the period of suspension does not begin to run (although the suspension itself is, of course, effective from the time it is imposed)

Source: Professional Legal Blog