The D.C. Court of Appeals disbarred four members of the D.C. Bar yesterday, adding to the seven whose licenses were revoked by the court last week.
The most recent disbarments were reciprocal and came as a result of a wide range of underlying violations of ethics rules.
Of the four, perhaps the most high-profile lawyer is Paul Bergrin, the former assistant U.S. attorney in New Jersey who pleaded guilty to helping to run a New York prostitution ring. Bergrin has also been charged with murder, racketeering and witness tampering as part of a supposed effort to shield his clients from prosecution.
Bergrin’s former clients include gang leaders, drug dealers and such celebrities as Queen Latifah, Naughty By Nature and Lil’ Kim. He also defended Javal Davis, an Army reservist who in 2005 admitted to abusing detainees at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.
Bergrin had previously been disbarred in New York.
Edward Fagan, a lawyer whose practice focused on recovering reparations for Holocaust survivors and descendants of U.S. slaves, had his license in New York revoked in 2008 after the the New York Court of Appeals determined that he had misappropriated client money and escrow trust funds from Holocaust survivors.
Kevin Heron, the former general counsel of Amkor Technology Inc., was disbarred in Pennsylvania after he was convicted of securities fraud.
The final disbarment handed down yesterday was for Gregory Van Judice, whose Louisiana law license was revoked because he allegedly failed to pay medical providers money recovered in personal injury cases. Van Judice was also accused of failing to supervise a nonlawyer assistant.
Last week, as The National Law Journal previously reported, the D.C. appeals court issued seven reciprocal disbarments to lawyers from Florida and Virginia, including four real estate lawyers. So far this year, the D.C. appeals court has issued 20 reciprocal disbarments and eight original disbarments, compared with 16 reciprocal and 17 original disbarments in 2009.
D.C. Bar Counsel Wallace “Gene” Shipp Jr. said the recent uptick in disbarments is likely occurring because the Bar Counsel’s Office recently finished comparing all of the disciplinary actions nationwide with the list of D.C. Bar members. Shipp said his office tries to download the American Bar Association’s list of disciplinary actions every three months.
“The number of recent reciprocal disbarments is extraordinary. But given the recent download of ABA data, it’s nothing that makes me think the country is suddenly going morally reprehensible,” Shipp said.