Wanton wontons. Would you trust an attorney who deliberately skipped out without paying for her soup at the local Peking Dragon restaurant? What is moral turpitude? Is it like pornography? Would you know it when you see it?
When I was a kid I used to wonder how people knew that police officers were good and could be trusted. Did they raise police separately to make sure only good people became part of the force? How could all police officers be good? Well, sadly, it turns out, or so I’m told anyway, not all men and women who work in law enforcement are actually “good”.
It turns out that every job has its bad apples and even law school – or the seminary – cannot ferret out the evil among us.
So, what of the attorney who has been convicted of a crime? If an attorney cannot conduct his or her life in such a way as to avoid not only violating the criminal code but get caught doing it, should that be enough to make him or her unfit to practice law? Well, not in California. There’s still a long way to go. Most of the California attorney disciplinary cases involving the conviction of a crime are covered by Business and Professions Code sections 6100 – 6103.
An attorney who is convicted – not charged but convicted – of a felony or a crime involving moral turpitude will likely be suspended until the conviction is final and a hearing is held to determine what discipline is appropriate. There is a sizable amount of cases from the California Supreme Court discussing the appropriate discipline for certain crimes.
Next: What is moral turpitude?
Mara J. Mamet