Lawyer says it 'would be an honor' to be disbarred; disciplinary board aims to oblige
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A Washington, D.C., lawyer may get his wish after he criticized disciplinary authorities and asked them to “do me the honor of disbarring me.”
The request by Glenn Stephens should be treated as a consent to disbarment, according to a Sept. 25 report and recommendation by the District of Columbia Court of Appeals Board on Professional Responsibility.
Law.com, the Legal Profession Blog, Above the Law and Law360 have coverage.
Stephens told disciplinary authorities in a sarcastic March 2018 email that disbarment “would be an honor.” His full missive to the Office of Disciplinary Counsel reads: “Please don’t kill trees, waste taxpayer resources and ODC personnel on me. ODC has no credibility or legitimacy to me. Or the drivel you generate. You are simply dishonest lawyers who do nothing to regulate dishonest lawyers. And racists to boot. Rather than wasting time, money, and paper on your sophistries, please disbar me. Disbarment by ODC would be an honor. To date, aside from competing in the triathlon world championships, my greatest honors are my PhD from UCLA and my law degree from Boalt. But a disbarment letter from ODC will be framed and go up right alongside those diplomas. Please do me the honor of disbarring me. I will be so very very [sic] proud.”
A hearing committee had a four-day hearing on the underlying ethics allegations against Stephens and recommended a three-year suspension. The committee concluded that Stephens “abused the judicial system and ignored the ethical boundaries of adversarial advocacy,” according to the report and recommendation by the Board on Professional Responsibility.
Stephens’ email didn’t meet the requirements for consent disbarment because the lawyer is required to submit an affidavit acknowledging the allegations of ethical misconduct are true, according to the professional responsibility board.
Because those requirements weren’t met, the professional responsibility board issued an order asking Stephens to show cause why he shouldn’t be disbarred. Stephens responded by mailing “a number of copies of a color image” of rapper Flavor Flav from the hip-hop group Public Enemy. The mailing included the text “ODC is a joke,” an apparent reference to Public Enemy’s 1990 song “911 is a Joke,” according to the board’s report.
The professional responsibility board said it saw no need to review the hearing committee record. Stephens has “unequivocally, and colorfully, sought to be disbarred,” the board said in its report.
When an accused lawyer indicates that they don’t want protections afforded by ethics rules, “we see nothing to be gained by an exhaustive march through those procedures,” the board report says.
Two dissenters to the board report said the board has an obligation to review the hearing committee findings.