An attorney ethics board in Washington is recommending the disbarment of a longtime criminal defense lawyer who was convicted this summer in federal district court here on charges he manufactured a scheme to dupe jurors.
The attorney, Charles Daum, a member of the District of Columbia bar since 1978, was convicted in June following a bench trial in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Daum, prosecutors said, orchestrated a scheme that involved staged photographs to trick jurors into thinking another person, and not his client, had control over drugs.
Daum's lawyer, David Schertler of Washington's Schertler & Onorato, unsuccessfully argued that Daum's client, a man named Delante White, was the person who devised and executed the scheme. White and others testified at trial that that Daum was the brainchild of the plot. Prosecutors uncovered the plan after a mistrial in White's case. Daum was charged last year.
The D.C. Board on Professional Responsibility this month said in a report Daum should be disbarred for the conviction of a crime of moral turpitude. Daum was convicted on charges that included obstruction of justice and subornation of perjury. Disbarment, the board said, is mandatory under the circumstance of the offense.
The D.C. Office of Bar Counsel said it learned of the conviction through news articles. The D.C. Court of Appeals, following the trial, ordered Daum temporarily suspended from the practice of law.
U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler found Daum and two private investigators, Daaiyah Pasha and Iman Pasha, guilty for their roles in the evidence-manufacturing scheme. Earlier this month, lawyers for Daum and the Pashas renewed their motion for a new trial or for the dismissal of the indictment.
The defense attorneys claim that prosecutors did not fully disclose the scope of the cooperation of key government witnesses, including White. The attorneys said White, for instance, met with prosecutors 26 times for three to four hours each time, far more than the government said in pretrial disclosures.
"No one can fairly conclude that the government's pattern of playing too close to the vest with obviously discoverable, exculpatory evidence has not undermined confidence in the verdicts," the defense attorneys said in court papers.
Prosecutors have until early December to respond to the contentions from the defense lawyers.
The D.C. Board on Professional Responsibility said in its report on Daum that if his conviction is set aside or reversed on appeal, D.C. bar counsel "shall notify the board and make a further recommendation regarding the appropriate sanction in this matter."