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VSB seeks lawyer discipline based on bankruptcy court penalty

While state court rules on reciprocal discipline remain under review by a Virginia State Bar committee, the VSB’s Disciplinary Board is seeking to suspend a lawyer’s license based on a four-month suspension by the regional bankruptcy court.

The bar’s action against Darryl A. Parker of Richmond comes despite a disciplinary panel’s rejection last year of reciprocal discipline based on similar circumstances.

In that case, the Disciplinary Board decided 4-1 that it could not suspend the license of a bankruptcy lawyer based on a suspension by federal courts in Maryland.

The majority reasoned the suspension of a law license is a greater penalty than mere suspension in specific courts. Reciprocal punishment should be reserved for actions by jurisdictions with sanction powers equivalent to those of the VSB, the panel decided.

The decision prompted a proposed rewrite of the reciprocal discipline process which was published for comment in December. The changes would affirm broad reciprocal discipline authority, but would allow the VSB to impose the same “or similar” discipline as that imposed by another jurisdiction.

The proposed rewrite remains under consideration by the VSB Committee on Lawyer Discipline.

In the meantime, the Disciplinary Board acted March 26 to start the reciprocal discipline process for Parker. He was suspended for four months after Richmond’s two U.S. Bankruptcy Court judges condemned a pattern of poorly prepared documents, late appearances and disregard of court procedures.

The four-month Eastern District Bankruptcy Court suspension was affirmed by U.S. District Judge Robert E. Payne in September.

Under the VSB reciprocal discipline process, Parker’s license was summarily suspended effective April 2. An April 24 hearing is set for Parker to show why the four-month bankruptcy banishment should not be enhanced with a four-month VSB license suspension.

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