Justice Baer Calls for Harsher Discipline for Repeat Offenders

/ 03.Apr, 2014

Pa Supreme CourtOn Monday, the Supreme Court adopted the recommendation of the Disciplinary Board, and suspended attorney Thomas Russel Quinn of Philadelphia for a period of one year and one day.  In an unusual move, Justice Baer, joined by Justice Stevens, issued a dissenting statement.  Acknowledging the sanction imposed was consistent with the recommendations of the Hearing Committee and the Disciplinary Board, as well as similar cases, Justice Baer stated he was “bothered by Respondent’s extensive recidivist history of disciplinary infractions.”   Justice Baer stated he believes a suspension of three years is appropriate for Quinn.

Justice Baer noted this is Quinn’s fourth disciplinary case in just over ten years.  In 2008, Quinn received a  six-month stayed suspension with probation.  Prior to that, Quinn received an informal admonition in 2002, and a private reprimand with eighteen months probation in 2005.  All of the disciplinary actions involved failing to communicate with and take actions on behalf of clients.  Justice Baer further noted evidence of four civil cases against Quinn with outstanding judgments.

Justice Baer and Justice Stevens appended their dissent in the Quinn case to two other disciplinary opinions published on Monday, against Nicholas E. Fick, and Richard Patrick Reynolds.  Fick, suspended for eighteen months, had an informal admonition in 1999, a private reprimand in 2002, and a one year suspension in 2005.  Reynolds, suspended for one year and one month, had an informal admonition in 2007, and a temporary suspension in 2013.

It is too early to tell if the dissents by Justices Baer and Stevens portend an era of harsher discipline, but attorneys should be aware that it is on the radar of our Supreme Court.

Josh J.T. Byrne, Esquire