Facts: Following a hearing before the respondent Washington State Bar Association’s disciplinary board, petitioner Bradley Behrman’s license to practice law was suspended for nine months and he was ordered to pay $500 in restitution and undergo counseling after the board found that he had violated several rules of professional conduct when he failed to collect a debt owed his client, failed to provide his client with sufficient information about the work he had performed and to resolve the resulting fee dispute, failed to respond to his client’s calls and emails and to provide his client her file upon request, removed disputed funds from a trust without his client’s knowledge or consent, and failed to cooperate with the disciplinary board’s investigation. Behrman subsequently appealed the disciplinary board’s sanction to the Supreme Court of Washington, asserting that the disciplinary board had erred in refusing to admit billing statements as evidence, erroneously concluded that he was not remorseful, erroneously found aggravating factors, and erroneously failed to find mitigating factors.
Question(s): Did the disciplinary board err in refusing to admit into evidence billing statements offered by Behrman?
Was the disciplinary board’s conclusion that Behrman was not remorseful supported by substantial evidence?
Did the disciplinary board properly weigh aggravating and mitigating factors in determining Behrman’s sanction?
Conclusion: Justice Owens’ opinion for the Court declined to overturn the disciplinary board’s sanction, concluding that the billing statements offered by Behrman were untimely and irrelevant and that substantial evidence supported the disciplinary board’s conclusion that Behrman was not remorseful given Behrman’s statements minimizing the consequences of his actions. The Court also held that the disciplinary board properly found that indifference to restitution constituted an aggravating factor and properly declined to find that personal and emotional problems constituted a mitigating factor and that the sanction imposed was proportional to the gravity of the violations.
Docket No. 200,536-5 (from WSBA Case No. 13420)
Petitioner: Bradley Behrman
(Counsel: Bradley Behrman)
Respondent: Washington State Bar Association
(Counsel: Sachia Stonefeld Powell)
Argument: Thursday, October 30, 2008 1:30pm
[Source: TVW, http://tvw.org]
Audio: Washington Supreme Court
Decided: Wednesday, December 24th, 2008
Prevailing Party: Washington State Bar Association (Respondent)
Court: Alexander4 Court (2008-2009)
Note: We post only slip opinion(s) as published at the time of the decision. Please consult Washington Reports printed volumes for the opinion(s) in their final form. Each opinion should appear next to the Justice who authored it.