Thursday, May 03, 2007

Suspension of Burek and Chvala: Just right?

Michael McCabe, executive director of the committee to repeal the first amendment ironically known as the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, is upset that former Senators Chuck Chvala and Brian Burke got their law licenses pulled for only two years as a result of their felony convictions.

For whatever its worth, I recently served as referee on a reinstatement case in which an attorney had been suspended for one year as a result of a fraud conviction and another in which the Office of Lawyer Regulation sought to pull the ticket of a guy who had been convicted of tax evasion.

In order to make my recommendations, I spent some time researching what the court had actually done with lawyers who had been convicted of what can broadly be called dishonesty crimes including those that were not themselves violations of their professional responsibilities (this applied to the second case).

Much depends on the circumstances but, rightly or wrongly, two years is fairly normal. Burke and Chvala were not made to be examples, but they really didn't catch a break either.

McCabe would argue that their prominence and status as high elected officials should militate in favor of a harsher penalty. I might argue that the aggressive application of the criminal law in at least some of the charges cuts the other way. It looks like the court chose the middle path.


Anonymous said...

This is interesting because a part of me agrees with McCabe and part with you.

Have these two guys lost their right to vote because of their convictions? Wouldn't this be an indication of the seriousness of their crimes? We always need something to compare with; what else may be good?

Finally, a friend that lost his law license for a short time got seriously depressed. This can be really hard on some people.

Anonymous said...

Chuck Chvala will be eligible to vote again when his probabtion ends next year. Brian Burke has been eligible to vote since last May.

Anonymous said...

McCabe thinks that anyone who wins an election (because he lost when he ran for the assembly) is a crook.

Certainly, Jensen, Foti, Chvala and Burke have been treated more harshly than anyone else. The Supreme Court deadlocked 2-2 on whether their actions even constituted a crime. That upheld a bizarre Ct of Appeals decision. If Wilcox had participated in any of the cases, Scott Jensen would not be going to prison.