Bar files opposition to Whittemore practicing
March 28, 2014
The State Bar has filed a brief opposing Harvey Whittemore's motion to dismiss ongoing attempts to bar him from practicing law.
Whittemore was convicted in federal court of three counts of making illegal campaign contributions to Sen. Harry Reid by giving money to family members and employees who then contributed it to Reid, bypassing the maximum contributions allowed in federal law.
A bar hearing panel ruled Whittemore was not a threat to his clients or the public and that suspending his law licensing pending appeals of his conviction wasn't necessary.
The panel recommended that the Supreme Court restore Whittemore to practice, after which the bar appealed to continue his suspension.
Whittemore's lawyers moved to dismiss last week. They argued that the bar violated the rules when it appealed by not filing the appeal in 30 days, as required, and using the rules designed for cases when a hearing panel recommends reprimands, suspension or disbarment.
The bar's response this week argues that Whittemore was convicted of a crime under federal law and that the conviction included a finding that Whittemore "acted knowingly and willfully indicating a dishonest intent."
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Bar counsel argued the record of conviction is conclusive evidence the lawyer committed the offense and requires his suspension be extended pending resolution of the appeal.
Bar counsel also argued that the hearing panel is not the proper place to challenge the legitimacy of the criminal conviction and that the judge's decision delaying Whittemore's date of incarceration pending appeal doesn't mean the appeal has merit.
The response did not, however, address the fact that the bar's appeal of the hearing panel decision didn't arrive at the Supreme Court until after the 30 days mandated in statute.