Facts: Mark Vanderveen was disbarred following a hearing by the Washington State Bar Association’s disciplinary board, which found that Vanderveen had violated Washington Rules of Professional Conduct §8.4(b) and (c) by willfully failing to report income to the Internal Revenue Service. Vanderveen appealed the disciplinary board’s decision to the Supreme Court of Washington, asserting that disbarment was a disproportionate sanction and that mitigating factors had not been properly considered by the board.
Question(s): Was disbarment an appropriate sanction in light of the severity of the misconduct involved and in light of the presence of mitigating factors?
Conclusion: Justice Charles W. Johnson’s opinion for the Court declined to overturn the disciplinary board’s recommendation of disbarment, holding that disbarment was appropriate due to the seriousness of the felony committed by Vanderveen and the lack of significant mitigating factors. In particular, the Court ruled that the sanction was not disproportionate to Vanderveen’s misconduct and that Vanderveen had failed to present substantial evidence of his good character or reputation, that his willingness to plead guilty to the criminal charges stemming from his misconduct did not qualify as a mitigating factor, and that the time he served in prison as a result of his tax evasion did not constitute the mitigating factor of “other penalties and sanctions” recognized by the Washington Rules of Professional Conduct.
Docket No. 200,569-1 (from WSBA Case No. 18616)
Petitioner: Mark Vanderveen
(Counsel: Kurt M. Bulmer)
Respondent: Washington State Bar Association
(Counsel: Christine Gray)
Argument: Tuesday, January 13, 2009 1:30pm
[Source: TVW, http://tvw.org]
Audio: Washington Supreme Court
Decided: Thursday, July 16th, 2009
Opinion: 166 Wn.2d 594 (2009)
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.