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District of Columbia Court of Appeals
April 19, 2006, Argued ; May 18, 2006, Decided
[*757] On Report and Recommendation of the Board on Professional Responsibility
WASHINGTON, Chief Judge: Bar Counsel takes exception to the Report and Recommendation of the Board on Professional Responsibility (the "Board") which concluded that Respondent's criminal conviction for misdemeanor sexual abuse did not constitute a sanctionable ethics violation under Rule 8.4 (b) of the District of Columbia Rules of Professional Conduct (the "Rules"). Bar Counsel also contends that a [**2] thirty-day suspension is more appropriate than the Board's recommendation of public censure. 2 Respondent did not file a brief in this court. The Board similarly did not seek leave to file a brief in this matter, but instead rests on the analysis and conclusion contained in its Report and Recommendation. We agree with Bar Counsel that crimes of a sexual nature violate an attorney's ethical obligations, and that Respondent's actions warrant thirty days suspension.
Following a bench trial, Respondent was found guilty of misdemeanor sexual abuse of Ms. Katherine Wesson. Respondent, in November 2002, lost his direct appeal to [*758] this court. See Harkins v. United States, 810 A.2d 895 (D.C. 2002). The facts of the underlying incident are detailed in our previous opinion:
On the morning of October 8, 1999, the [victim], Ms. Wesson, boarded a Metro train at the Deanwood Station on the Orange [**3] Line traveling to work. Ms. Wesson was sitting in the window seat reading a newspaper when the [respondent], Harkins, boarded the train at the Eastern Market Station and sat in the seat next to her. After sitting down, Harkins and Ms. Wesson had a brief conversation, which included an exchange of names and places of employment.
According to the government's evidence [at trial], several events took place after Harkins sat down next to Ms. Wesson. While sitting next to Ms. Wesson, Harkins began to move closer to her and started rubbing his leg against hers, and then his hand against her thigh. Following this contact, Ms. Wesson decided to change seats and as she "brushed past" Harkins, she felt him touch her buttock. Ms. Wesson responded, "No, you can't do that" and proceeded to change seats. After Ms. Wesson sat down in her new seat, again a window seat, Harkins moved beside her and attempted to engage Ms. Wesson in conversation. Ms. Wesson responded that she did not want to talk with Harkins and then changed seats a second time, this time sitting in an aisle seat. Harkins then moved to the seat directly across the aisle from Ms. Wesson's new seat . . . . When the Metro train reached [**4] the McPherson Square Metro Station, Harkins got up, dropped his business card in Ms. Wesson's newspaper, and said, "Give me a call sometime, baby."
Full case includes Shepard's, Headnotes, Legal Analytics from Lex Machina, and more.
899 A.2d 755 *; 2006 D.C. App. LEXIS 216 **
IN RE JOHN J. HARKINS, RESPONDENT.
Subsequent History: Related proceeding at Matter of Harkins, 40 A.D.3d 114, 833 N.Y.S.2d 546, 2007 N.Y. App. Div. LEXIS 3722 (N.Y. App. Div. 2d Dep't, 2007)
Prior History: [**1] A Member of the Bar of the District of Columbia Court of Appeals. Bar Registration Number 190215.
Harkins v. United States, 810 A.2d 895, 2002 D.C. App. LEXIS 654 (D.C., 2002)
sexual, suspension, recommendation, discipline, sanctions, touching, censure, seat, misconduct, offenses, violence, sexual abuse, violations, thirty days, misdemeanor, ethical
Legal Ethics, Sanctions, Disciplinary Proceedings, Appeals, Professional Conduct, Illegal Conduct, Criminal Law & Procedure, Sexual Assault, Abuse of Adults, Elements, Disbarments, Suspensions