Office of Disciplinary Counsel v. Campbell

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
Citation463 Pa. 472,345 A.2d 616
PartiesOFFICE OF the DISCIPLINARY COUNSEL, Petitioner, v. John W. CAMPBELL, Jr., Respondent.
Decision Date03 October 1975

Page 616

345 A.2d 616
463 Pa. 472
John W. CAMPBELL, Jr., Respondent.
Supreme Court of Pennsylvania.
Argued Jan. 13, 1975.
Decided Oct. 3, 1975.

Page 618

[463 Pa. 476] Thomas A. Livingston, Dennis J. Clark, Pittsburgh, for respondent.

Thomas J. Shannon, Pittsburgh, for petitioner.



JONES, Chief Judge.

Respondent, John W. Campbell, Jr., has practiced law for twenty years. In December 1971 he undertook to represent Charlene McIlwaine, who was then under federal indictment for possessing approximately thirty pounds of marijuana. Immediately upon accepting her case, respondent received from her a retainer of $1,000.

During the course of his representation respondent informed his client that he could for a price 'fix' her case as he had done previously in other criminal matters. He sought and received over $4,000 to allegedly arrange the suppression of fingerprint evidence. In fact, no such evidence existed.

Respondent made subsequent demands for additional money which Ms. McIlwaine was unable to furnish directly. Respondent then suggested that she contact her associates to arrange a meeting between themselves and him. Respondent wished to propose a plan for the transporting of drugs to Pittsburgh for distribution. Ms. McIlwaine agreed to do so but later contacted the federal authorities. Ms. McIlwaine and two undercover agents then met with respondent at a bar on June 1, 1972.

[463 Pa. 477] At that meeting respondent stated that he had used the initial money received from Ms. McIlwaine to suppress the fingerprint and other unspecified evidence. He also informed them that he needed an additional $10,000 to pay his fee and to finalize the dismissal of charges.

Respondent later told Officer Stephen F. Terscak of the Pittsburgh Police Department of his conduct in the case and that he was attempting to set up a drug transportation

Page 619

plan. He also asked Officer Terscak to confirm to his supposed co-conspirators that respondent had, in fact, secured the suppression of the fingerprint evidence through the efforts of Officer Terscak, Unknown to respondent, Officer Terscak agreed to play this part only to uncover the identity of the other parties to the scheme. At a subsequent meeting on June 20, 1972, respondent and Officer Terscak acted out their roles for the federal undercover agents. 1

Later respondent was indicted by the federal authorities for using the mails to defraud. The indictment was based on the correspondence exchanged between the United States Attorney and respondent in regard to Ms. McIlwaine's drug case. Although a significant portion of the evidence outlined above was presented at trial respondent was found not guilty of mail fraud. No other charges were lodged against him.

Following his acquittal, the Office of the Disciplinary Counsel commenced proceedings against respondent. 2 [463 Pa. 478] The matter was referred to a Hearing Committee which ultimately recommended disbarment of the respondent. The Disciplinary Board, after reviewing the report of the Hearing Committee, agreed with its decision and has petitioned this Court to disbar the respondent from the practice of law in this Commonwealth. 3

Respondent took several exceptions to the proceeding below and here continues to object. Specifically, he maintains (1) that the evidence to support the recommendation of disbarment was insufficient, (2) that the commencement of proceedings after his acquittal in federal court violates the double jeopardy clause of the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution, (3) that the disciplinary rules under which he was charged are unconstitutionally vague and (4) that the consolidation of the McIlwaine matter with the other unrelated violations denied him procedural due process.

Consideration of these exceptions is more easily undertaken if we first reconsider the nature of disciplinary proceedings. In In Re Echeles, 430 F.2d 347, 349--50 (7th Cir. 1970), the court presented a lucid explanation of the purpose of a disciplinary action: '(D)isbarment [463 Pa. 479] and suspension proceedings, are neither civil nor criminal in nature but are special proceedings,

Page 620

sui generis, and result from the inherent power of courts over their officers. Such proceedings are not law suits between parties litigant but rather are in the nature of an inquest or inquiry as to the conduct of the respondent. They are not for the purpose of punishment, but rather seek to determine the fitness of an officer of the court to continue in that capacity and to protect the courts and the public from the official ministration of persons unfit to practice. Thus the real question in issue in a disbarment proceeding is the public interest and an attorney's right to continue to practice the profession imbued with the public trust.' (Citation omitted.) Accord In Re Berlant, --- Pa. ---, ---, 328 A.2d 471, 473 (1974).

We need only add that although disciplinary proceedings are sui generis, they have been styled 'quasi-criminal.' In Re Ruffalo, 390 U.S. 544, 551, 88 S.Ct. 1222, 20 L.Ed. 117 (1968). As such certain procedural and substantive rights have necessarily...

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  • Seals v. Hickey
    • United States
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    ......62, 71-72, 91 S.Ct. 1294, 1298-1299, 28 L.Ed.2d 601 (1971); Office of Disciplinary Counsel v. Campbell, 463 Pa. 472, 483 n.7, 345 A.2d 616 ......
  • People v. Morley
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    ... 419 P.3d 827 In the MATTER OF the DISCIPLINARY PROCEEDING AGAINST William H. WAECHTER, an Attorney at Law. No. 201,645-6 ...¶ 3 The WSBA's Office of Disciplinary Counsel (ODC) began investigating Waechter after ... Office of Disciplinary Counsel v. Campbell, 463 Pa. 472, 481, 345 A.2d 616 (1975). That court explained that should ......
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    • 3 Junio 1987
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1 books & journal articles
  • Catching Unfitness
    • United States
    • Georgetown Journal of Legal Ethics No. 34-2, April 2021
    • 1 Abril 2021
    ...duties). 48. AM. BAR FOUND., supra note 46, at 21. 49. See id. at 14–18. 50. See id. at 18 (citing Disciplinary Counsel v. Campbell, 345 A.2d 616 (Pa. 1975)). 364 THE GEORGETOWN JOURNAL OF LEGAL ETHICS [Vol. 34:355 beginning of the Model Code, might be “overkill.”51 With regard to the FTP p......

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