The New Hampshire Supreme Court recently disbarred an attorney, for practicing law while he was still serving a suspension for prior unethical conduct. In the Matter of Paul F Coddington, Jr, an attorney was suspended for professional misconduct and was subsequently hired by a law firm as a paralegal. The attorney falsely told his employer that he had applied to have his license reinstated. Thus, relying on this information, a lawyer at the firm permitted him to represent a client in court and handle cases.
Upon learning of the attorney’s conduct, the New Hampshire Professional Conduct Committee (“PCC”) filed a petition to disbar the attorney. After failing to respond to the petition, the attorney stipulated that he had consciously misled his employer and had appeared in court on behalf of a client while still on suspension.
Based on this evidence, the PCC found that the attorney had violated New Hampshire Rules of Professional Conduct 4.1, which prohibits lawyers from knowingly making false statements, and Rule 8.4, which prohibits lawyers from engaging in dishonest or fraudulent conduct. The PCC recommended that the attorney be disbarred.
The New Hampshire Supreme Court reviewed the PCC’s findings and affirmed its recommendation of disbarment. The Court also ordered that the attorney could not seek re-admission for at least five years, and could only do so after re-taking the New Hampshire Bar Examination and the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination.
Decision: In Re: Paul F Coddington, Jr