Theard v. United States, No. 68

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtFRANKFURTER
Citation354 U.S. 278,1 L.Ed.2d 1342,77 S.Ct. 1274
PartiesDelvaille H. THEARD, Petitioner, v. UNITED STATES of America
Docket NumberNo. 68
Decision Date17 June 1957

354 U.S. 278
77 S.Ct. 1274
1 L.Ed.2d 1342
Delvaille H. THEARD, Petitioner,

v.

UNITED STATES of America.

No. 68.
Argued Dec. 13, 1956.
Decided June 17, 1957.

Mr. Delvaille H. Theard, New Orleans, La., pro se.

Mr. Edward H. Hickey, Washington, D.C., for the respondent.

Page 279

Mr. Justice FRANKFURTER delivered the opinion of the Court.

Because of petitioner's disbarment by the Supreme Court of Louisiana, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana struck him from its roll of attorneys, and the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit affirmed the order. 228 F.2d 617. The case raises an important question regarding disbarment by a federal court on the basis of disbarment by a state court and so we granted certiorari. 351 U.S. 961, 76 S.Ct. 1030, 100 L.Ed. 1482.

A proceeding for disbarment of a lawyer is always painful. The circumstances of this case make it puzzling as well as painful. The facts are few and clear. It is undisputed that petitioner, in 1935, forged a promissory note and collected its proceeds. Criminal prosecution and action for disbarment were duly initiated but both were aborted because the petitioner was 'suffering under an exceedingly abnormal mental condition, some degree of insanity' at the time of this behavior, to such a degree that he was committed to an insane asylum and was under a decree of interdiction until 1948. Years after, criminal prosecution was unsuccessfully revived, State v. Theard, 212 La. 1022, 34 So.2d 248. The disbarment proceedings, which led to the order in the federal court now under review, got under way in 1950 and the Supreme Court of Louisiana, acting on the findings of a committee of the Louisiana State Bar Association, overruled exceptions to the petition for disbarment. In so doing, the court met the plea of insanity against the claim

Page 280

of misconduct with the statement that it did not 'view the mental deficiency of a lawyer at the time of his misconduct to be a valid defense to his disbarment.' Louisiana State Bar Ass'n v. Theard, 222 La. 328, 334, 62 So.2d 501, 503. The next year, 'after issue had been joined,' the Supreme Court of Louisiana appointed a Commissioner to take evidence and to report to that court his findings of fact and conclusions of law. The Commissioner did so and reported to the Supreme Court this fact that we deem vital to the issue before us: 'It must then, from the record, be held that the respondent was suffering under an exceedingly abnormal mental condition, some degree of insanity.' 225 La. 98, 104, 105, 72 So.2d 310, 312. The Commissioner deemed himself, however, bound by 'the law of the case' as announced by the Supreme Court in 222 La. 328, 334, 62 So.2d 501, 503, supra, according to which it was immaterial to disbarment that the petitioner 'was probably suffering from amnesia and other mental deficiencies at the time of his misdeeds.' Ibid. The Supreme Court of Louisiana in its second decision approved the Commissioner's view about 'the law of the case,' and added that, were the doctrine otherwise, it would not change its previous ruling. 225 La. 98, 108, 72 So.2d 310, 313.

The state proceedings thus establish that petitioner was disbarred in 1954...

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274 practice notes
  • Javits v. Stevens, No. 73 Civ. 5339-LFM.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • 24 Septiembre 1974
    ...treatment with respect to the disciplining of the different professionals is required." 491 F.2d at 1286. 34 Theard v. United States, 354 U.S. 278, 281, 77 S.Ct. 1274, 1 L.Ed.2d 1342 (1957); Erdmann v. Stevens, 1 Defendants claim that this failure to raise the constitutional issues on the m......
  • Keenan v. Board of Law Examiners of State of NC, Civ. No. 2554.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. Eastern District of North Carolina
    • 2 Octubre 1970
    ...to be unconstitutional on its face. The Board's argument is based upon the so-called "Theard Doctrine." In Theard v. United States, 354 U.S. 278, 281, 77 S.Ct. 1274, 1276, 1 L.Ed.2d 1342 (1957), the Supreme Court stated, as dicta, that "it is not for this Court, except for the narrow limits......
  • In re Dobbs, Case No.: 15-11096-JDW
    • United States
    • United States Bankruptcy Courts. Fifth Circuit. U.S. Bankruptcy Court — Northern District of Mississippi
    • 20 Agosto 2015
    ...504 (1985)). Such power is derived from the lawyer's role as an officer of the court which granted admission. Theard v. United States, 354 U.S. 278, 281, 77 S.Ct. 1274, 1276, 1 L.Ed.2d 1342 (1957). For the reasons set forth above, the Court finds that the standard for the disbarment of Mr. ......
  • In re Sawyer, No. 15109.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • 17 Noviembre 1958
    ...$5,000, exclusive of interest and costs." 14 Cf. Bell v. Hood, 327 U.S. 678, 66 S.Ct. 773, 90 L.Ed. 939. 15 Cf. Theard v. United States, 354 U.S. 278, 281, 77 S.Ct. 1274, 1 L.Ed.2d 16 Mr. Justice Cardozo when on the New York Court of Appeals said, "Membership in the bar is a privilege burde......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
274 cases
  • Javits v. Stevens, No. 73 Civ. 5339-LFM.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • 24 Septiembre 1974
    ...treatment with respect to the disciplining of the different professionals is required." 491 F.2d at 1286. 34 Theard v. United States, 354 U.S. 278, 281, 77 S.Ct. 1274, 1 L.Ed.2d 1342 (1957); Erdmann v. Stevens, 1 Defendants claim that this failure to raise the constitutional issues on the m......
  • Keenan v. Board of Law Examiners of State of NC, Civ. No. 2554.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. Eastern District of North Carolina
    • 2 Octubre 1970
    ...to be unconstitutional on its face. The Board's argument is based upon the so-called "Theard Doctrine." In Theard v. United States, 354 U.S. 278, 281, 77 S.Ct. 1274, 1276, 1 L.Ed.2d 1342 (1957), the Supreme Court stated, as dicta, that "it is not for this Court, except for the narrow limits......
  • In re Dobbs, Case No.: 15-11096-JDW
    • United States
    • United States Bankruptcy Courts. Fifth Circuit. U.S. Bankruptcy Court — Northern District of Mississippi
    • 20 Agosto 2015
    ...504 (1985)). Such power is derived from the lawyer's role as an officer of the court which granted admission. Theard v. United States, 354 U.S. 278, 281, 77 S.Ct. 1274, 1276, 1 L.Ed.2d 1342 (1957). For the reasons set forth above, the Court finds that the standard for the disbarment of Mr. ......
  • In re Sawyer, No. 15109.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • 17 Noviembre 1958
    ...$5,000, exclusive of interest and costs." 14 Cf. Bell v. Hood, 327 U.S. 678, 66 S.Ct. 773, 90 L.Ed. 939. 15 Cf. Theard v. United States, 354 U.S. 278, 281, 77 S.Ct. 1274, 1 L.Ed.2d 16 Mr. Justice Cardozo when on the New York Court of Appeals said, "Membership in the bar is a privilege burde......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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