Saturday, July 30, 2016

DC's strange concept of moral turpitude -- UPDATED

In Washington DC, disbarment is mandatory for convictions of crimes that involve moral turpitude, yet I continue to be baffled by Washington DC's concept of moral turpitude.  I have discussed cases that found no moral turpitude when a lawyer was convicted of murdering his wife (here), or of stealing property from a store for personal gain (here), or of felony traveling for the purpose of engaging in sex with a minor in a case in which the attorney had made a 12-year-old boy his sex slave for six years (here). Yet tampering with a witness was considered to involve moral turpitude (here). See here for more.

Adding to the list now we have a case in which an attorney who pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor violation of 22 D.C. Code section 3531(c), which makes it a crime to electronically record, without consent, a person using a bathroom or restroom or who is undressing or changing clothes.

According to the Legal Profession blog, Maryland recently disbarred an attorney who videotaped three tenants in intimate encounters.

In Washington DC, apparently this type of conduct is not considered to involve moral turpitude and resulted in only a three year suspension.

The Legal Profession Blog has more information on the case here.

For a short summary of the issues related to the concept of moral turpitude go here.

UPDATE (7/30/16):  The District of Columbia Board on Professional Responsibility has issued its long-awaited report in which it explains that it disagreed with a hearing committee recommendation and concluded that the attorney's crime involved moral turpitude.  The Legal Profession Blog has more details here.  The Board apparently stated this was "a difficult case."  I don't understand that.  To me this was an easy case, but as you know, I have long had reservations about DC's concept of moral turpitude, so what do I know...

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