When Lawyers Break the Law: How the District of Columbia Court of Appeals Disciplines Members of the Bar Who Commit Crimes




Cunningham, Larry

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


University of the District of Colombia Law Review


This article will attempt to synthesize the D.C. Court of Appeals' jurisprudence on the discipline of lawyers who commit crimes. It will demonstrate that the D.C. Court of Appeals' decisions, since the 1970s, are far from a disorganized body of cases and rules. Rather, what has evolved over the last three decades has been a "system," an organized and routine approach to the discipline of lawyer criminals. Part II will outline the procedural aspects and protections of the system. Part III will discuss dozens of Court of Appeals' cases on the subject of "moral turpitude." It will attempt to draw the line between crimes that require automatic disbarment and those that do not. Part IV will test the system by considering difficult cases-sad stories that from time-to-time have forced the Court of Appeals to attempt to refine the "moral turpitude" line.



Lawyer discipline, Moral turpitude, DC Court of Appeals


6 U.D.C. L. Rev. 9