disbar(redirected from disbarments)
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To revoke an attorney's license to practice law.
A disbarment proceeding is the investigation into the conduct of a member of the bar in order to determine whether or not that person should be disbarred or disciplined. The state bar association normally takes such action based on allegations of a lawyer's unethical conduct. For example, the bar association might initiate an action for disbarment against a lawyer who has revealed information obtained from the Privileged Communication between the lawyer and a client.
In one of the more high-profile cases of disbarment in recent history, the U.S. Supreme Court in 2001 moved to disbar former President William Jefferson Clinton, thus preventing him from practicing before the high court. The Court's action came after a similar move by the Arkansas Supreme Court's Committee on Professional Conduct, which recommended disbarment of the former president in that state. The actions stemmed from charges of contempt, obstruction of justice, and perjury based on misleading statements made by Clinton about his relationship with White House intern Monica Lewinsky. Those charges led to Clinton's Impeachment by the U.S. House of Representatives in 1998. Clinton agreed to a fine and suspension imposed by the Arkansas Supreme Court disbarment committee and later asked to resign from the U.S. Supreme Court bar.
v. to remove an attorney from the list of practicing attorneys for improper conduct. This penalty is usually invoked by the State Bar Association (if so empowered) or the highest state court, and will automatically prohibit the attorney from practicing law before the courts in that state or from giving advice for a fee to clients. The causes of permanent disbarment include conviction of a felony involving "moral turpitude," forgery, fraud, a history of dishonesty, consistent lack of attention to clients, abandoning several clients, alcoholism or drug abuse which affect the attorney's ability to practice, theft of funds, or any pattern of violation of the professional code of ethics. Singular incidents (other than felony conviction) will generally result in reprimand, suspension, and/or a requirement that the lawyer correct his/her conduct, show remorse and/or pass a test on legal ethics. (See moral turpitude)