Legal author’s bid to reinstate the bar rejected by DC ethics board

  • Panel recommends denial of Joseph’s motion to recover his attorney’s license
  • Joseph called the bar’s sanction ‘unreasonably harsh’

(Reuters) – A disbarred author who has written extensively on the law has not demonstrated he is fit to resume practicing the profession, a Washington, DC lawyers’ ethics committee said in a statement. report released on Wednesday.

A DC Board on Professional Responsibility hearing panel report recommended that the DC Court of Appeals, which administers discipline for attorneys in the nation’s capital, overturn Joel Joseph’s decision petition be reinstated to the bar.

In 2015, the DC Court of Appeals expunged Joseph, 73, as a reciprocal sanction after a court in Maryland took the action following allegations that he misled state and federal courts to California on where he lived.

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The committee called Joseph an “intellectually robust and inquisitive person”. Joseph has argued public interest cases and written books about the Justice Department and the courts, including “Black Mondays: The U.S. Supreme Court’s Worst Decisions.”

Court rules allow attorneys to apply for “pro hac vice” admission to represent a client in a state where the attorney does not live or work. Joseph told California courts that he resided in Maryland, where he had a bar license, when in fact he lived in California, the panel heard.

“The nature and circumstances of the petitioner’s misconduct are serious and disturbing,” the ethics committee wrote in its report. “Lying to a court about residency to gain admission pro hac vice is directly related to [his] honesty, integrity and judgment.”

Joseph did not immediately respond to messages Thursday seeking comment.

DC Bar Disciplinary Office Chief Hamilton “Phil” Fox III declined to comment.

The ethics committee said Joseph “has not demonstrated that he recognizes the seriousness of his misconduct.”

Joseph’s “continued description of himself as a lawyer” after his 2011 disbarment in Maryland “is misleading to the public,” the panel said.

During a hearing in his case in February, Joseph said, “I can call myself a lawyer as long as I have a JD degree.”

He criticized any continued effort by DC bar regulators to prevent him from practicing.

“They should be busy prosecuting lawyers who really cheat clients and do bad things,” he said.

In a depositJoseph said his “punishment was unreasonably severe”.

The case is In the Matter of Joel D. Joseph, DC Board on Professional Responsibility, No. 21-BD-029.

Read more:

Ethics Committee: Former Hunton Partner Unfit for Reinstatement to DC Bar

‘My shame is real’: Lawyer convicted in spy case seeks readmission to DC bar

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Lola R. McClure