How hard is it to get completely disbarred? Apparently it is really really hard, as this attorney learned when he piled infraction upon infraction but STILL didn’t get tossed from our noble profession.
Pennsylvania attorney Christopher Booth kicked off his spree of misbehavior with the usual vague-but-still-problematic neglecting cases and failing to communicate with his clients. Haha everyone knows that you barely get a slap on the wrist for that. Do more better! Maybe fail to supply discovery. That might move the ball along a bit. Ooh ooh! Then don’t show up at the sanctions hearings over your failure to provide discovery, because why would you want to do a silly thing like that? That neat trick will cost you and your clients a cool $65K, so what should you do next?
Booth then concealed the sanctions from his former partner, and attempted to charge the client, Wachovia Bank, for a portion of the sanctions that he characterized as covering services rendered. He eventually paid the sanctions, and additional expenses, from Booth & Tucker’s operating account, the petition said.
According to the petition, the sanctions and expenses had been concealed from Joe H. Tucker Jr., who had co-founded the former firm.
Now we’re talking! Shifting the costs of your bad behavior to your client will surely get you tossed, right? Especially after you pile on the fact that Booth concealed $117,000 that he spent out of his firm’s operating account, a sum that of course exceeded what he was entitled to under his partnership agreement?
Of course it won’t! The Pennsylvania Office of Disciplinary Counsel found some aggravating factors, added in some mitigating factors, carried the two, divided by zero, and came up with…a stayed suspension.
The court ordered a two-year suspension for Booth that will be stayed in its entirety if Booth continues to receive mental health treatment and to take prescribed medication for a two-year probationary period.
It’s getting to the point where it is harder to get disbarred than it is to go to law school and pass the bar.