Montgomery Blair Sibley, best known for his representation of the late “D.C. Madam” Deborah Jeane Palfrey, had his law license suspended for three years by the D.C. Court of Appeals today. The court’s decision is a reciprocal disciplinary sanction that stems from a 2008 decision by the Supreme Court of Florida to pull his license in that state for three years.
Sibley’s license was suspended in Florida because he failed to pay more than $100,000 in child support payments and because he repeatedly filed “vexatious and meritless” lawsuits against judges who have been assigned his cases. Sibley has argued that the Florida disciplinary process violated his due process rights and failed to prove that his conduct warranted discipline.
In a 21-page opinion, written by Judge Phyllis Thompson and joined by Judge John Fisher and Senior Judge John Steadman, the D.C. panel shot down all of the due process complaints that Sibley lodged against the Florida disciplinary case. The court held that Sibley failed to provide “clear and convincing evidence” as to why his license should not be revoked in Washington.
Sibley, who represented himself when the case was argued before the D.C. Court of Appeals on Oct. 15, 2009, had argued that because the Florida referee refused to move a hearing date—Sibley was out of town working on the D.C. Madam case—he did not have an opportunity to be heard. He also contended that his right to due process was violated because the referee did not rule on his request to subpoena the family court judge who had held him in contempt for not paying child support and the five appellate judges who sanctioned him on a different matter for filing “meritless” litigation.
Sibley further argued that because the disciplinary proceedings were brought against him on the basis of “unsworn allegations,” they were brought illegally.
The D.C. Court of Appeals opinion struck down each of Sibley’s complaints in turn. Regarding his request to subpoena the judges as witnesses, Thompson quoted prior precedent that determined that “the integrity of [the] mental process of a judge cannot be subject to scrutiny.”
Sibley said in an interview that he was not surprised by the D.C. Court of Appeals’ ruling. “The court has now confirmed that a lawyer can lose his license by being accused of misconduct by people who are not under oath and who he has not been allowed to cross-examine. This opinion is a wonderful tool that can be used to silence critics of the judiciary. And there is no greater critic of the judiciary than yours truly,” Sibley said.
As for his future plans, Sibley said he still has options as a lawyer. “The only court that hasn’t revoked my license is the U.S. Supreme Court. I’m still in good standing there and may continue to represent clients before that court. This was designed from the beginning to go to the Supreme Court. In fact, by being radioactive, I have had more clients come to me than ever because they know they have a lawyer who doesn’t give a damn about his career and will do anything for them,” Sibley said.