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Attorney E-Newsletter

November 2007

Chief Justice Honored with National Award

On the eve of his retirement, Ralph J. Cappy, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, was honored with an award for judicial innovation. He was named the 2007 recipient of the Harry L. Carrico Award for Judicial Innovation presented by the National Center for State Courts (NCSC). Chief Justice of South Carolina Jean Hoefer Toal, chair of the NCSC’s Board of Directors, presented Chief Justice Cappy the award on November 8, 2007 in Philadelphia, during the annual conference of the National Association of Women Judges. Full text of the NCSC press release is available here.

Hot Off the Presses

As mentioned last month, the Disciplinary Board updated the Supreme Court Actions table on its Web site (www.padb.us) to allow you to easily find the public disciplinary determinations within the last 60 days. Prior to the change, you could view all public disciplinary determinations, but only by year, starting from 2004. Now, you are still able to search the actions by year, or find the most recent actions within the last 60 days. Also with this recent addition, you are able to sort the list by date, attorney name, attorney ID number, county, or by the action taken.

The Web site will continue to supply the actions from the last 60 days, the current year and the last 3 years. Therefore, as the New Year approaches, the 2004 actions will be removed and 2008 will be added.

Check it out at http://www.padisciplinaryboard.org/discipline.

As We Were Saying . . .

Speaking of presses, in July we noted the widely publicized story of Administrative Law Judge Roy Pearson and his $63 million suit against a cleaning company for loss of his trousers. In further news, Mr. Pearson has lost his judicial position, as a judicial council voted against reappointing him to a ten-year term. Mr. Pearson’s appeal of the dismissal of his action remains pending.

Mr. Pearson wasn’t the only one who lost his job as a result of the suit, though. The cleaners, Soo and Jin Nam Chung, dropped their claim for attorney fees in hopes of ending the litigation, after supporters raised over $100,000 to pay their legal fees. However, they closed the shop where the incident occurred, citing the stress and lost revenue resulting from the lawsuit was the reason. The people who worked for them at that shop were let go.

Last month we noted the risks inherent in filing pleadings which contain confidential information such as Social Security numbers. Subscriber William Anderson of York offers the following observation: “Your tip should have mentioned that the federal courts (including Bankruptcy Courts) have specific rules governing the insertion of personal data such as Social Security numbers, names of minor children in pleadings and other documents. There is much wider availability of federal pleadings than state pleadings due to electronic filing and the Pacer system.” Well noted. Thanks to Mr. Anderson.

F.A.Q.: Certificates of Standing and Discipline

Q: I am applying for admission to the bar of another state. They want proof of good standing and a record of disciplinary complaints in Pennsylvania. How do I obtain these?
If you are an active attorney, you may request a Certificate of Good Standing from the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania Prothonotary’s Office. Please call one of the following numbers for additional information:

  • 215-560-6370 (Philadelphia)
  • 717-787-6181 (Harrisburg)
  • 412-565-2816 (Pittsburgh)

If you are on voluntary inactive status, you may request a Certification of Status in Lieu of a Certificate of Good Standing from the Disciplinary Board. Check for instructions under “Attorney Registration” questions here.
If you need a statement regarding your disciplinary record (or lack thereof), you should make a written request stating that you authorize the Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania to search and release any information (public or private) found in your disciplinary file. Please provide a check for $25.00 (made payable to PA Disciplinary Board) and a pre-paid self-addressed envelope to:

Office of the Chief Disciplinary Counsel
200 N. Third Street, Suite 1400
Harrisburg, PA 17101
Telephone: 717-783-0990

Tip of the Month: Gone in a Flash

Of all the wonders technology has brought us, few are so elegantly wonderful as the flash drive. Imagine a device smaller than a pack of chewing gum which can hold all your important files– word processing, spreadsheets, slide shows, images, movies, anything you can put on a computer – that can be carried on a keychain and accessed from almost any computer anywhere. And they make small backup tasks simpler than ever.

But such convenience also comes with risks. Carelessly used, they can present great risks. Viruses, spyware, and other malicious software can be carried on the drives and transferred to systems. Also, they are susceptible to loss. Keychains have been known to be dropped, briefcases and purses have been known to be left behind, and the little metal (or, horror of horrors) plastic devices that secure the drives to their moorings will break, not if but when. Sensitive and confidential data can be exposed to loss. For these reasons, some security-conscious offices have adopted policies prohibiting the connection of flash drives to their systems, or employ software designed to frustrate their use.

Some flash drives come with built-in security systems that allow their contents to be password-protected, but many don’t. Also, it is unknown how well such systems will stand up to determined hacking. And whenever a drive uses encryptation to enhance security, there is a corresponding risk that the user will lose access.

Careful users will ensure that any sensitive files are kept behind a security wall on the drive at a minimum. Even more important, discretion in the selection of files to be placed on portable drives is wise.

Gotta Tip?

Or a comment, a question, a request, a suggestion? Let us know at comments@padisciplinaryboard.org.