Disciplinary Reporter Case Digest

Attorney ID 0
Attorney Name Anonymous,    
DBP Docket No. 52 DB 1998
Supreme Court Docket No. N/A
Disciplinary Counsel Mark G. Weitzman
Counsel for Respondent
Decision Date 2001-12-10
Effective Date 2001-12-10
Case Digest During his trial by General Court Martial, Respondent entered a plea of guilty to one charge of Conduct Unbecoming an Officer and Gentleman in violation of Article 133 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice and two charges of Negligent Dereliction of Duty, in violation of Article 92 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Respondent was sentenced to a reprimand, ordered to pay a fine in the amount of $3,000, and ordered to forfeit all pay and allowances. The crime of Conduct Unbecoming an Officer and Gentleman is punishable by confinement for a maximum of one year and is therefore a "serious crime" as defined by Rule 214(i), Pa.R.D.E. Respondent committed the crimes in 1993 and was not admitted to the Pennsylvania Bar until 1994. He entered the plea of guilty to the charges in December 1996. He was subject to the jurisdiction of the Disciplinary Board because he was being disciplined for his conviction which occurred while he was a member of the bar. In mitigation, Respondent testified that he mistakenly thought he was justified in substituting his five-day leave request for a one-day leave request due to the circumstances involving his work week schedule and the Thanksgiving holiday. When he was preparing to leave the Navy, he asked a personnel officer if what he did was appropriate and he was informed that it was not. He then made sure that a change was made and he was charged for the extra days he had taken. Although he attempted to correct the error, his action was still deemed to be unbecoming an officer. In recommending an Informal Admonition, the Hearing Committee determined that Respondent provided mitigating circumstances which served to demonstrate that the offenses may not be as serious as the convictions indicate, he was currently on inactive status in Pennsylvania and did not appear to present any threat of being an unfit attorney to potential clients in Pennsylvania, his wrongdoings were committed before his admission to the legal profession, he accepted full responsibility for what he had done, he had never before been arrested or convicted for any misconduct and he did not seem likely to engage in wrongdoing in the future.
Rule Violation(s) 203(b)(1), Pa.R.D.E.
Discipline Imposed Informal Admonition
Points of Law An attorney's conviction by military court martial may result in discipline if the conviction involves a crime that is punishable by imprisonment for one year or upward in this or any other jurisdiction and thus constitutes a "serious crime" pursuant to Rule 214(i), Pa.R.D.E.. Even though a lawyer in the military may be disciplined for an offense which is not a crime under civilian law, the reflection of the offense upon the lawyer's fitness to practice will be considered.
Report/Opinion not available