Sunday, June 25, 2017

Lesson Learned

And . . . done.
In re Pope, 2017 VT 55 (mem.)

By Andrew Delaney

I am not a fan of the way SCOV is publishing decisions these days. I’m not sure why SCOV is self-publishing like a struggling pulp fiction author, but when the Department of Libraries was in charge, at least there was some semblance of method to the madness. And now that there’s a new website, none of the old links work. Go ‘head, click a vermontjudiciary.org-associated link on any summary more than a few months old or any case link on the older summaries. Also, published entry orders like this one somehow end up in some black hole in Googletopia and not on the browse-by-date list. At any rate, this has nothing to do with the opinion, but if someone out there would like to really scour the vermontjudiciary.org site and make a comprehensive index so we can cross-reference it in connection with our mission to keep the public informed that’d be cool. Just shoot me an email.

We now return to our regularly scheduled programming.

In this decision, SCOV puts its seal of approval on the Professional Responsibility Board’s decision to reinstate Attorney Pope’s suspended law license. 

Attorney Pope filed a petition for reinstatement. It took some time to get a hearing scheduled but time limits in this context are directory not jurisdictional and we’ll just move along. At the hearing, Attorney Pope brought a couple witnesses who testified on her behalf and presented five letters in support of her reinstatement. Disciplinary counsel was present but took no position. In my head, this looks like disciplinary counsel shrugging her shoulders and saying, “Meh. Whatevs.” I’m sure it was much more lawyerly.

This all came about because Attorney Pope was convicted of a misdemeanor identity theft charge in New York. New York suspended her license for two years and Vermont followed suit. Simply put, if you’re licensed in several states and you get suspended in one of them, chances are that the other states you’re licensed in will follow suit. It’s kind of like a bizarre buy-one-get-two-free sale (assuming three law licenses).

Attorney Pope is eligible for reinstatement in New York but is not intending to pursue reinstatement or practice law there. She was licensed in New York in 1988 and in Vermont in 2006 and had no problems until her suspension. The board notes that she has strong research and legal writing skills; that she took her suspension seriously and closed down her practices; that she’s remorseful, insightful, and holds herself accountable for her actions. She’s kept up with her CLE requirements, including ethics credits. Simply put, Attorney Pope has, by all accounts, learned her lesson.

The board concludes, “No evidence was presented that petitioner’s resumption of the practice of law will be detrimental to the integrity and standing of the bar or to the administration of justice nor subversive of the public interest.” The board finds by clear and convincing evidence that attorney Pope has met the requirements for reinstatement and recommends SCOV reinstate her.

And so SCOV orders Attorney Pope’s reinstatement.

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