ACTION ALERT: Support the Bar Ethics Grievance Filed Against Sen. Vitter

The Louisiana State Bar Association has finally received an ethics complaint regarding the allegations, many of which he has admitted, that Sen. David Vitter engaged in multiple instances of adulterous and criminal conduct.  Charlie Melancon, who is challenging Sen. Vitter in Louisiana’s 2010 U.S. Senate race, notes his frustration with the lack of accountability Sen. Vitter has faced to date for this conduct as well as the hope that the complaint will force at least a minimal level of accountability:

…[W]hat David Vitter confessed to wasn’t just a “serious sin,” it was likely a crime. And so far Vitter hasn’t been charged with anything. He’s still got his law license. He’s still a U.S. Senator.

A man’s sin is his own, and with this complaint Vitter may finally have to answer for his actions. Louisiana Politics: CREW, Vitter, Melancon, Jindal, Stephen Sabludowsky, September 30, 2009.

The complaint (with exhibits) was filed by Melanie Sloan, Executive Director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), and charges that:

…Louisiana Rule of Professional Conduct 8.4(b) provides it is professional conduct for a lawyer to “commit a criminal act especially one that reflects adversely on the lawyer’s honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer in other respects.”  By his own admission, Sen. Vitter solicited for prostitution in the District of Columbia – apparently on numerous violations – and the evidence strongly suggests he had a pattern of committing the same violations in Louisiana.  Because soliciting prostitutes is a crime, Sen. Vitter clearly violated Rule 8.4(b).  Sen. Vitter’s conduct is all the more egregious because he is an elected official, who has sworn an oath to uphold the law of the United States.

In the CREW press release, Ms. Sloan notes the preferential treatment Sen. Vitter has received so far in response to his admission of multiple criminal acts, especially when compared to the prostitutes employed by the same ‘madam’ from whom Sen. Vitter solicited prostitutes:

13 former prostitutes were forced to testify at the trial of the DC Madam, who committed suicide shortly after her conviction. Sloan noted that one, a former Navy supply officer and Naval Academy instructor, lost her job because the Navy requires those who serve “to adhere to a standard of conduct that reflects the Navy’s values of honor, courage and commitment.” Sloan said, “It is a shame the Senate has no such standard of conduct. It will be interesting to see what sort of standard the Louisiana Disciplinary Board chooses to apply.” [Emphasis supplied.]

It will, indeed, be interesting to see what standards the Disciplinary Counsel will choose to apply to the investigation of this complaint.  In the meantime, it is interesting to review and understand the standards that the Disciplinary Counsel is mandated to apply:

The disciplinary counsel shall evaluate all information coming to his or her attention by complaint or from other sources alleging lawyer misconduct or incapacity. If the lawyer is not subject to the jurisdiction of the court, the matter shall be referred to the appropriate entity in any jurisdiction in which the lawyer is admitted. If the information, if true, would not constitute misconduct or incapacity, the matter shall be dismissed. If the lawyer is subject to the jurisdiction of the court and the information alleges facts which, if true, would constitute misconduct or incapacity, counsel shall conduct an investigation unless in the discretion of disciplinary counsel the matter qualifies for referral to the Practice Assistance and Improvement Program.  [Emphasis supplied.]  Section 11, Procedure for Disciplinary Proceedings, ¶A, Screening, Louisiana Rules for Lawyer Disciplinary Enforcement.

It is also critical to understand that, in addition to any legal and fact-based defenses that may be available to him, Sen. Vitter will continue to argue – loudly – that this complaint is just another example of political gamesmanship and that it should be summarily dismissed as such.  Accordingly, this complaint is as likely, if not more likely, to be Roach Moteled – that is, it’s checked in to the Office of the Disciplinary Counsel but is never checked out – than it is to receive the proper attention and legitimate investigation it deserves.

Help this complaint get the attention it deserves by contacting the LADB, Office of Disciplinary Counsel and LSBA to respectfully demand that the Office of the Disciplinary Counsel fully comply with the Louisiana Rules for Lawyer Disciplinary Enforcement:

The Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board
2800 Veterans Memorial Boulevard, Suite 310
Metairie, LA 70002
Tel: (504) 834-1488 or (800) 489-8411
Fax: (504) 834-1449
Email: ladb@ladb.org

Office of the Disciplinary Counsel
4000 S. Sherwood Forest Boulevard, Suite 607
Baton Rouge, LA 70816
Tel: (225) 293-3900 or (800) 326-8022
Fax: (225) 293-3300

The Louisiana State Bar Association
Kim H. Boyle, President
365 Canal Street, Suite 2000
New Orleans, LA 70130-6534
Tel: (504) 566-1311
Direct line: (504) 679-5790
Fax: (504) 568-9130
Email: boylek@phelps.com

In what (I hope) is an encouraging sign that this investigation is, in fact, being taken seriously, the Louisiana Supreme Court visited my posts regarding the status of Sen. Vitter’s membership in the Louisiana State Bar Association the day after the complaint was filed.

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Sen. Vitter, why DID you lose your license to practice law?

Update on 03-30-09: Senator Vitter is an inactive member of the LSBA.

As I wrote last week, I began researching whether Senator David Vitter’s adulterous and criminal conduct violated the Louisiana Rules of Professional Conduct. A check of the Louisiana State Bar Association Membership Directory Active Member Search and Martindale.com, however, yielded no results for Senator David Bruce Vitter. I was able to confirm, from publicly-available sources, that Sen. Vitter had received his law degree from Tulane University, had been admitted to the Louisiana State Bar Association and had actually practiced law. Additional research by Oxdown Gazette readers dmac and cinnamonape yielded nothing regarding how Senator Vitter lost his license to practice law although cinnamonape found this 2001 press release from Southeastern Louisiana University which confirms that “[w]hile serving in the state legislature, Vitter was a business attorney as well as an adjunct law professor at Tulane and Loyola Universities. He is a graduate of the Tulane University School of Law….” [my emphasis]

I also requested information from Senator Vitter – via his webmail service – confirming whether he is “licensed to practice law in any jurisdiction and whether [he is] a member of any bar association.” Although someone from Senator Vitter’s office has visited The Grievance Project several times since I sent my webmail:

156.33.35.41 (U.S. Senate Sergeant At Arms)
District Of Columbia, Washington, United States
March 17th 2009 03:45:33 PM
grievanceproject.wordpress.com/2009/03/17/is-sen-david-vitter-licensed-to-practice-law/

156.33.35.50 (U.S. Senate Sergeant At Arms)
District Of Columbia, Washington, United States
March 17th 2009 03:43:04 PM
grievanceproject.wordpress.com/2009/03/17/is-sen-david-vitter-licensed-to-practice-law/

156.33.35.86 (U.S. Senate Sergeant At Arms)
District Of Columbia, Washington, United States
March 17th 2009 03:30:09 PM
grievanceproject.wordpress.com/2009/03/17/is-sen-david-vitter-licensed-to-practice-law/

156.33.35.45 (U.S. Senate Sergeant At Arms)
District Of Columbia, Washington, United States
March 17th 2009 03:17:51 PM
grievanceproject.wordpress.com/2009/03/17/is-sen-david-vitter-licensed-to-practice-law/
March 17th 2009 03:18:10 PM
grievanceproject.wordpress.com/2009/03/17/is-sen-david-vitter-licensed-to-practice-law/

156.33.35.28 (U.S. Senate Sergeant At Arms)
District Of Columbia, Washington, United States
March 18th 2009 04:52:51 PM
grievanceproject.wordpress.com/2009/03/17/is-sen-david-vitter-licensed-to-practice-law/

I have yet to receive a response to my initial inquiry. Accordingly, I have sent this followup webmail to Senator Vitter:

Senator Vitter,

Because I could find no bar association in which you are admitted, I requested last week – via your webmail service – that you identify each bar association in which you are admitted to practice law. To date, I have not received a reply to my request.

It is now clear that you graduated with a law degree from Tulane University, that you were admitted to the Louisiana bar association and that you then practiced law in Louisiana. [1] It is also clear that you are no longer licensed to practice law in nearly every state, including Louisiana. [2] Additional research conducted both by myself and other readers of my post has failed both to provide any evidence to confirm that you are currently admitted to practice law as well as to yield any information that explains why you are no longer licensed to practice law. As a result, what is not clear is why you are no longer admitted to the Louisiana State Bar Association .

Accordingly, I am sending this second correspondence to again request you to identify each bar association to which you have ever been admitted. Please also include both the date(s) on which you were admitted as well as the date(s) on which any license to practice law was lost or revoked. Please also identify the conduct in which you engaged (or were alleged to have engaged) that resulted in the loss or revocation of any license(s) to practice law that you have previously held. In short, please explain why you are no longer admitted to practice law and the circumstances that led to the loss of your license(s) to practice law.

I look forward to your reply.

E.M.

[1] According to SourceWatch , Senator Vitter “was born May 3, 1961 in New Orleans, … educated at Harvard University, Oxford University (and was a Rhodes Scholar), and Tulane University, and was a lawyer and member of the Louisiana House of Representatives before entering the House.” [my emphasis] See: http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=David_Vitter .

According to Wikipedia, you were “a lawyer and a member of the Louisiana House of Representatives from 1992 to 1999, when [you] entered the U.S. House.” [my emphasis] See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Vitter

From this press release from Southeastern Louisiana University announcing then-U.S. Representative Vitter as the keynote speaker at SLU’s 2001 commencement program: “While serving in the state legislature, Vitter was a business attorney as well as an adjunct law professor at Tulane and Loyola Universities. He is a graduate of the Tulane University School of Law and Harvard University and earned a history and economics degree with highest honors from Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar. [my emphasis] See: http://www2.selu.edu/NewsEvents/PublicInfoOffice/vitter-sp01commencement.htm

According to the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, Senator Vitter received his law degree from Tulane University School of Law in 1988. See: http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=V000127

[2] See: http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=V000127

and

http://vitter.senate.gov/

Crossposted at Oxdown Gazette.

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Is Sen. David Vitter licensed to practice law?

Update on 03-30-09: Senator Vitter is an inactive member of the LSBA.

Because Senator David Vitter (R-LA) keeps showing up like a bad penny, I decided to research whether his various criminal activities violated any professional conduct rules of any bar associations to which he might be admitted. I first checked the Louisiana State Bar Association Membership Directory Active Member Search but the search yielded the following result: No matches have been found! I then searched Martindale.com for Sen. Vitter and, again, the search provided no result.

I thought at this point that Senator Vitter may not be an attorney, but according to SourceWatch [emphasis supplied]:

[Sen. Vitter] was born May 3, 1961 in New Orleans, was educated at Harvard University, Oxford University (and was a Rhodes Scholar), and Tulane University, and was a lawyer and member of the Louisiana House of Representatives before entering the House.

Sen. Vitter’s Wikipedia entry also states that he “was a lawyer and a member of the Louisiana House of Representatives from 1992 to 1999, when he entered the U.S. House.” [emphasis supplied.] However, Sen. Vitter’s Senate website biography page does not mention his Tulane University law degree or any prior work experience as an attorney. Further research has failed to confirm the Senator’s admission to any bar association in the United States.*

Via his webmail service, I have asked Sen. Vitter to confirm which, if any, bar associations he is now, or has ever been, a member:

Sen. Vitter,

I have read in several places that you went to Tulane law school and worked as an attorney. However, I have been unable to confirm that you are licensed to practice law or that you are admitted to any state or the DC bars. Please advise if you are licensed to practice law in any jurisdiction and whether you’re a member of any bar association.

Thank you,
E.M.

I’ll update this post if I receive a response from Sen. Vitter. In the meantime, if you have any information about whether Sen. Vitter is licensed to practice law and, if he is, the jurisdiction(s) in which he is admitted to practice, please contact me at:

  • grievanceproject AT gmail DOT com.

Thanks,

E.M./The Grievance Project

Crossposted at Oxdown Gazette.

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*I searched Martindale.com for Sen. Vitter but the search provided no result for the Senator.

I also searched the online directories for the following states plus Washington, D.C. (I have compiled the links to these online member directories – as well as all links for the state bar home pages and attorney grievance information, rules of professional conduct and grievance forms – for the 50 states and DC here.) Interestingly, instead of clicking a button to Search, Start Search or Find A Lawyer, I had to click the word ‘Execute’ to run an online attorney search in North Dakota. Following are the results returned for the searches I conducted:

Alabama Membership Directory: Your search found 0 matches.

Alaska Bar Association Membership Directory: [No result.]

State Bar of Arizona – Find a Lawyer: No Records Found
State Bar of Arizona – Member Finder: Search Results: 0 Attorney Found

Arkansas Licensed Attorney Search: 0 record(s)

California Attorney/Member Search: Your search for vitter returned no results.

Colorado Attorney Status and Disciplinary History: No matches found!
Colorado Attorney Disciplinary (only) History: No matches found!

Connecticut Attorney/Firm Inquiry: No Records Found for Attorney*/Firm Name: vitter

Delaware: No online search available.

Florida Find a Lawyer: Your search yielded no results. Please try again.

State Bar of Georgia Member Directory Search: 0 record(s)

Hawai’i: Authorized to Practice Law: [No result.]
Hawai’i: Not Authorized to Practice Law: [No result.]
Hawai’i: Not Authorized to Practice Law Except Pro Bono Cases: [No result.]
Hawai’i: Pro Hac Vice: [No result.]
Hawai’i: HSBA Member Directory: [No result.]

Idaho Attorney Roster Search: No records returned.

Illinois Lawyer Search: [No result.]

Indiana Supreme Court Roll of Attorneys: No Records Found

Iowa Judicial Branch Search for Lawyers Licensed in Iowa: No Records Exist

Kansas: No online search available.

Kentucky Lawyer Locator: Sorry, no records matched your criteria.

Louisiana State Bar Association Membership Directory Active Member Search: No matches have been found!

Maine Attorney Information Search: No records selected

Maryland Judiciary Attorney Listing: NO RECORDS MATCHED THE SEARCH CRITERIA

Massachusetts Board of Bar Overseers Attorney Search by Name or City: [No result.]

State Bar of Michigan Member Directory: No members found.

Minnesota Lawyer Public Discipline Search: [No result.]
Minnesota Judicial Branch Lawyer Search: No records found…

Mississippi Attorney Directory: No results found.

Official Missouri Directory of Lawyers: No results found.

Montana: No online search available.

Nebraska Lawyer Search: Your search returned 0 results.

Nevada Find-A-Lawyer: No records returned.

New Hampshire Member Directory for HHBA members – Requires password: No search conducted.
New Hampshire Member Directory for the Public – Under construction: No search conducted.

New Jersey: No general member directory available
New Jersey: Disciplinary Histories from 1990 through last calendar year: [No result.]

State Bar of New Mexico Attorney/Firm_Finder: Your search has returned no results.

New York Attorney Search: Your search returned no results.

North Carolina State Bar Member Directory: Your search came back empty

North Dakota Lawyers Directory: No documents matched the query

Supreme Court of Ohio Attorney Information Search: 0 Attorneys Found

Oklahoma Bar Association Attorney Search: 0 Attorneys Found

Oregon State Bar Membership Directory: No match found

Pennsylvania Attorney Inquiry Search: 0 records found

Rhode Island Member Directory Search: There are no members with that information.

South Carolina Bar Member Directory: Sorry, there were no results.

South Dakota Lawyer Referral: [No result.]

Tennessee Bar Association Attorney Search: Sorry, no records found.
Online Attorney Directory of the Board of Professional Responsibility: No records were found matching your constraints.

Texas Member Directory: Your search has returned no result.

Utah State Bar Attorney & Associate Member Directory Service: [No result.]

Vermont: No online search available.

Virginia State Bar (Voluntary) Member Directory: Site temporarily down. No search conducted.
Virginia Attorneys Without Malpractice: No matches found.
Virginia State Bar Disciplined Attorneys : No matches found.

Washington State Bar Association (Voluntary) Lawyer Directory: Your search returned no results.

D.C. Bar Member Search: Records matching your search criteria: 0

West Virginia State Bar Association Member Search: [No result.]

State Bar of Wisconsin Lawyer Directory Search: Sorry, no attorney data matches your search …

Wyoming State Bar Membership Directory: Your search found no records.

Senator-for-now Stevens’ good news, bad news and Lisa Murkowski.

Crossposted at Oxdown Gazette.

The good news: Sen. Stevens won’t lose his right to vote until he’s sentenced, so he’ll be able to vote for himself.

The bad news: It may not be enough.

And Lisa Murkowski: Although Alaska’s junior Senator has been keeping a fairly low profile since getting caught in an improper land deal that she failed to properly disclose on her Senate disclosure forms, Sen. Murkowski made an appearance with the freshly-convicted felon Senator-for-now at his ‘Welcome Home’ party. Instead of asking him to resign, though, Sen. Murkowski implored his supporters to keep working hard to re-elect Senator-for-now. They even danced a jig together.

Birds of a feather. Which is probably why one of my first posts at The Grievance Project detailed Sen. Murkowski’s purchase of prime Kenai River-front property from a lobbyist at a price far below its fair market value and failure to report the purchase on her Senate disclosure forms. Her conduct in both the purchase and filing of the disclosure forms involved dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation and reflect adversely on her honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer. Accordingly, her conduct violates the Alaska Rules of Professional Conduct, and even though an inactive member of the Alaska Bar Association, Ms. Murkowski remains subject to the Alaska Rules of Professional Conduct which subject her to sanctions for her unethical conduct.

The state bar system will not begin a formal investigation until it receives a formal complaint, but anyone can file a grievance against Ms. Murkowski. You don’t need to be a resident of Alaska or otherwise involved in this matter. Since a grievance can’t be filed online, I’ve written the complaint so anyone can easily file a grievance against Ms. Murkowski with the Alaska Bar Association in three simple steps:

  1. Print, complete and sign the official Attorney Grievance Form – Alaska Bar Association (.pdf);
  2. Print and attach this page to the Complaint Form as the factual basis for the claim; and
  3. Mail the complaint to the address noted on the Complaint Form.

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Patrick J. Rogers – predictably and unbelievably – denies charges of Vote-Suppression

Crossposted at Oxdown Gazette.

Patrick J. Rogers is the New Mexico attorney who represents and advises the Republican Party of New Mexico on its voter suppression efforts. In this prior post , I documented how Mr. Rogers’ conduct in this matter violates the New Mexico Rules of Professional Conduct. Mr. Rogers “was too busy working on the election” to reply to a request for a statement from TPMMuckraker, so it’s no surprise he didn’t respond to my e-mail requesting a response to my allegations since I’m just an anonymous blogger. Notably, though, Mr. Rogers – or someone from his firm – did have time to stop by The Grievance Project:

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But, as Heather Clark reported on October 29, 2008, Mr. Rogers did reply to the Associated Press:

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.—An Albuquerque attorney who has been accused in a federal lawsuit of intimidating two voters in an attempt to interfere with their right to vote said Wednesday he has not violated any law.

Pat Rogers, who advises the state Republican Party, is accused of helping disseminate private information about two voters and hiring a private investigator, Al Romero, who allegedly went to their homes and confronted them about their eligibility to vote, the lawsuit said.

Rogers and Romero are named as defendants in the lawsuit, which was filed in U.S. District Court in Albuquerque on Monday by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, or MALDEF.

“I have not violated any law and Mr. Romero has not violated any law,” Rogers told The Associated Press.

* * *

“The lawsuit contains serious accusations that have no basis in law or fact. The suit is filed and advertised before the upcoming election for obvious purposes,” Rogers said, declining to elaborate.

I, too, would proclaim my innocence if I was being investigated by the Department of Justice – even a Michael Mukasey-led DoJ – and that conduct resulted in my being named as a defendant in a federal lawsuit. Every day, criminal defendants – both guilty and innocent alike – make countless similar proclamations of innocence in criminal courts all over the globe. Like many of these defendants, Mr. Rogers’ denial of wrong-doing is simply not believable. If you agree, you can easily file a grievance against Mr. Rogers with the State Bar of New Mexico in three simple steps:

  1. Print, complete and sign the official Form for Complaint against a Lawyer in New Mexico;
  2. Print and attach this page to the Complaint Form as the factual basis for the claim; and
  3. Mail the complaint to the address noted on the Complaint Form.

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E-mail to Patrick J. Rogers (Updated)

Patrick J. Rogers, Esq.
Modrall Sperling
PO Box 2168
Albuquerque, NM 87103-2168
Telephone: (505) 848-1800
Fax: (505) 848-1891
Email: pjr@modrall.com and patrogers@modrall.com

cc: contact@modrall.com

Mr. Rogers,

I have been researching the conduct of various attorneys such as yourself, whether that conduct is a violation of the rules of professional conduct with which each such attorney must comply and authoring factual allegations of the conduct that establish violations of the applicable rules of professional responsibility. Previously, I have written about the conduct of Alberto Gonzales, Kyle Sampson, Harriet Miers, Lisa Murkowski, John Yoo, Mark Everett Fuller, Monica Marie Goodling, Thomas W. Hartmann and Michael J. Elston. I now add your name to this illustrious list. See my post here . I also crossposted at Firedoglake‘s Oxdown Gazette . Your retention and supervision of Mr. Alfredo Romero to intimidate and harass citizens of New Mexico from lawfully exercising their right to vote by continuing to ‘investigate’ these United States citizens raises a substantial question as to your honesty, trustworthiness and fitness to practice law.

My readers and I are interested in your response to the allegations that your baseless-in-fact allegations of ‘voter fraud’ and your continuing investigation of these voters is intimidation and harassment of voters in violation of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and that your conduct, therefore, violates your ethical obligations as a member of the New Mexico Bar Association.

I expect better behavior from one of The Best Lawyers in America®.

E.M./The Grievance Project

Update: Someone from Modrall Sperling stopped by this morning. I’d call this at least a partial response.

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Patrick J. Rogers

Crossposted at Oxdown Gazette.

Patrick J. Rogers is the New Mexico attorney who represents and advises the Republican Party of New Mexico on its voter suppression efforts. I have documented from the public record Mr. Rogers’ conduct that violates the New Mexico Rules of Professional Conduct. Unfortunately, the state bar system requires that a formal complaint be filed to begin a formal investigation, but you don’t need to be a resident of the state or even involved in the matter to file a grievance. Anyone can file one, but a grievance can’t be filed online, so I’ve simplified the process as much as possible. If you agree, you can easily file a grievance against Mr. Rogers with the State Bar of New Mexico in three simple steps:

  1. Print, complete and sign the official Form for Complaint against a Lawyer in New Mexico;
  2. Print and attach this page to the Complaint Form as the factual basis for the claim; and
  3. Mail the complaint to the address noted on the Complaint Form.

Personal Information:

  • Name: Patrick J. Rogers, Shareholder, Modrall Sperling
  • PO Box 2168, Albuquerque, NM 87103-2168
  • Telephone: (505) 848-1800
  • Fax: (505) 848-1891

Grievance Information: New Mexico

Introduction

Along with the privilege to practice law, each member of the State Bar of New Mexico, including Patrick J. Rogers, must also comply with the special duties and responsibilities that arise from that privilege. As described in the Preamble to the New Mexico Rules of Professional Conduct:

A lawyer is a representative of clients, an officer of the legal system and a public citizen having special responsibility for the quality of justice.

* * *

A lawyer’s conduct should conform to the requirements of the law, both in professional service to clients and in the lawyer’s business and personal affairs. A lawyer should use the law’s procedures only for legitimate purposes and not to harass or intimidate others. A lawyer should demonstrate respect for the legal system and for those who serve it, including judges, other lawyers, and public officials. While it is a lawyer’s duty, when necessary, to challenge the rectitude of official action, it is also a lawyer’s duty to uphold legal process.

* * *

The legal profession’s relative autonomy carries with it special responsibilities of self-government. The profession has a responsibility to assure that its regulations are conceived in the public interest and not in furtherance of parochial or self-interested concerns of the bar. Every lawyer is responsible for observance of the Rules of Professional Conduct. A lawyer should also aid in securing their observance by other lawyers. Neglect of these responsibilities compromises the independence of the profession and the public interest which it serves. (Emphasis supplied.)

On October 17, 2008, Melanie Dabovich of the Associated Press reported that the “Republican Party of New Mexico alleges 28 people voted fraudulently in one Albuquerque state House district in the June Democratic primary.” After releasing the registration cards for “10 of the suspect voters[,]” Mr. Rogers, “an attorney who advises the state GOP, says the party plans to turn the suspect registration cards over to [state Attorney General Gary] King’s and [District Attorney Kari] Brandenburg’s offices.” ACORN investigated these claims and, as a result, “confirmed with the Bernalillo County Clerk that the voters in question were all legitimate” and that the voters identified by Mr. Rogers and his client were not engaged in the criminal conduct of ‘voter fraud’ but were, to the contrary, victims of false allegations of voting fraud.

Although his client, the Republican Party of New Mexico, officially distanced itself from making further allegations of voter fraud, Mr. Rogers continued to press the matter. Under the guise of conducting additional investigation of the baseless voter fraud allegations, Mr. Rogers retained a private investigator to conduct further ‘review’ of the voter fraud charges and supervised this investigator’s review of the voters he and his client had previously identified, even though each voter had been cleared of any wrongdoing.

Considering this conduct and the circumstances surrounding his conduct, as detailed more specifically below, Patrick J. Rogers has violated the following New Mexico Rules of Professional Conduct:

16-102. Scope of representation.
16-116. Declining or terminating representation.
16-401. Truthfulness in statements to others.
16-403. Dealing with unrepresented person.
16-404. Respect for rights of third persons.
16-503. Responsibilities regarding nonlawyer assistants.
16-802. Judicial and legal officials.
16-804. Misconduct.

Allegation: Patrick J. Rogers engaged in conduct designed to intimidate and harass New Mexican voters by retaining and supervising a private investigator to ‘investigate’ baseless allegations of voter fraud in violation of federal laws that prohibit voter intimidation.

On October 17, 2008, Melanie Dabovich of the Associated Press reported the activities of Patrick J. Rogers and his client, the Republican Party of New Mexico:

ALBUQUERQUE — The Republican Party of New Mexico alleges 28 people voted fraudulently in one Albuquerque state House district in the June Democratic primary.

Party representatives said at a news conference Thursday they found the suspect voters in a review of 92 newly registered voters in House District 13.

“We really have a bombshell — evidence of voter fraud in the 2008 primary in Albuquerque,” said State Rep. Justine Fox-Young, an Albuquerque Republican. “We are presenting undeniable proof that there was voter fraud in the June election.”

* * *

The Republicans released voter registration cards for 10 of the suspect voters, saying they showed missing or inaccurate Social Security numbers or birth dates.

In some cases, more than one voter was registered using the same Social Security number. In others, people who the Republicans said had no Social Security number on public record were registered.

* * *

Pat Rogers, an attorney who advises the state GOP, says the party plans to turn the suspect registration cards over to King’s and Brandenburg’s offices.

In response, Project Vote properly characterized these allegations as spurious:

ACORN and Project Vote launched back in a news conference call on October 10. “This is the third election cycle in a row where we’ve seen partisan interests take the same issue—which is canvassers trying to defraud ACORN by not doing their work and instead fabricating applications—and trying to exaggerate that and turn it into an argument that there is ‘widespread fraudulent voting’ going on,” said Project Vote executive director Michael Slater. “These allegations have been debunked now in several election cycles, and we’ll find by the end of this election cycle they’ll be debunked as well.”

The next day, October 18, 2008, the Associated Press again reported these baseless allegations:

ALBUQUERQUE —The community activist group ACORN fired back Saturday at New Mexico Republicans and their claims of voter fraud in June’s Democratic primary.

ACORN organizers said that since the vote-fraud charges were leveled by GOP leaders on Thursday, they have contacted four or five of the 28 allegedly “suspect” Albuquerque voters.

They said those voters confirmed that the allegations, including problems on voter registration forms like inaccurate Social Security numbers or birth dates, were simply wrong.

But State Republican Party representatives said only two voters out of 16 named in their investigation have come forward to deny the charges, and they stand by their assertion that voter fraud remains a problem in New Mexico. “The bottom line is that two out of 16 is not a good batting average,” said Pat Rogers, an attorney who advises the GOP.

* * *

Rogers said a private investigator hired by the state Republican Party found [Brittany] Rivera and others like her have Social Security numbers on their voter registration forms that are being used by other people. They may be legitimate voters and could be victims of identity theft.

* * *

However, the voters accused of the crime of voter fraud by Mr. Rogers and his client, the Republican Party of New Mexico, were, in fact, innocent of these charges. With the assistance of ACORN, these voters were able to prove their innocence of the charge of voter fraud. After “ACORN confirmed with the Bernalillo County Clerk that the voters in question were all legitimate,” the New Mexico Republican Party backed off their allegations of voter fraud. In spite of the fact that the voters identified by Mr. Rogers and his client were absolutely cleared of any impropriety by the Bernalillo County Clerk, Mr. Rogers and his private investigator continued to press the matter. Under the apparent guise of conducting additional investigation of the voter fraud allegations, and even though the named voters were cleared of any wrongdoing, Mr. Rogers continued to retain and supervise the services of Mr. Alfredo Romero to conduct additional ‘review’ of the voter fraud charges:

Among those who said she was blindsided and angered by the Republicans’ allegations was 18-year-old Brittany Rivera. At a news conference, she said she was at first scared to learn she’d been labeled as a “suspect” voter and her name and personal information had been forwarded to law enforcement. “You guys are trying to scare us new voters,” Rivera said of the GOP. “I think it’s wrong.”

According to Rivera and her mother, she accurately filled in and mailed her registration form on time after her mother picked up the paperwork for her at the nursing home where she works.

She said being targeted as a bogus voter is “crazy,” and she is now “more determined” to vote in the future. She said she planned to vote Saturday, when early voting began in New Mexico.

Group slams GOP ‘hacks’ over voting charges, Associated Press, October 18, 2008.

Several days later, on October 23, 2008, Gwyneth Doland reported in the New Mexico Independent that Mr. Rogers suddenly refused to either confirm or deny that he had hired an investigator in this matter:

ALBUQUERQUE – Republican Party attorney Pat Rogers refused to say Thursday if a private detective who visited the addresses of two of the 10 Albuquerque voters cited at a news conference last week about voter fraud was working for the GOP.

* * *

When asked by the New Mexico Independent if the private investigator worked for Rogers’ law firm, Rogers said, “I have no interest in responding to ACORN’s accusation.”

Reminded that the accusations came from the voters themselves, Rogers said, “You need not to accept what ACORN says.”

When asked the question again, Rogers said, ”I am not responding to any questions. I am not being quoted. This is off the record.”

However, the New Mexico Independent’s Gwyneth Doland confirmed that Mr. Rogers’ investigator had indeed continued to visit voters, including [name redacted] and Emily Garcia:

Guadalupe Bojorquez said a man who identified himself as a private investigator by the name of Al Romero visited the home of her 67-year-old mother on Wednesday.

“She calls me and she’s panicked because there is this man outside and he’s telling her he’s an investigator and he wants to come in to the house,” Bojorquez told NMI. She said her mother then put the man on the phone.

“I asked him, but he wouldn’t tell me who he worked for. He just said he wanted to verify that she was a legitimate voter and he wanted to see her documents. I told him ‘No,’ and we argued for a little bit.

“He said ‘You have to realize we’re just trying to protect the people, we just want to make sure that she’s a legitimate voter and if she votes and she’s not supposed to, then it’s illegal.’

“He was pressuring me so much that I told him that she’s not going to do anything until she speaks to her attorney.”

Bojorquez said she asked the man several times whom he worked for. Eventually, she said, “He told me he worked for Pat Rogers.”

Rogers is the Republican attorney who also made claims of voter fraud in 2004 and 2006. He was cited in the federal Department of Justice report about the firing of U.S. attorneys as one of the New Mexico GOP activists who complained to the Department of Justice about then-U.S. Attorney David Iglesias.

By law, private investigators are licensed by the state Regulation and Licensing Department. According to the department’s Web site, there is an Alfredo Romero who has a current private investigator license. In addition, three men named Albert or Alberto Romero have current security guard licenses.

Jenais Griego told NMI that she too had been visited by a private investigator on Wednesday. Her grandmother, Emily Garcia, was one of the people whom Republicans described last week as an ineligible voter.

“I asked him if he had a badge and he pulled out a white and blue laminate card with his name on it,” Griego. “It wasn’t even a badge, but it said ‘Al Romero, private investigator.’ He came in and he started asking me about my grandmother and I was trying to tell him that she didn’t live here. He’s like ‘OK, so let me just write some stuff down.’”

Griego said that Romero asked her questions about her grandmother’s voter registration card; her grandmother lives in a trailer down the street, but receives her mail at the house, she said.

“It freaked me out when he got upset, when I did tell him that, regardless of what happens, my grandmother is voting and it’s OK for her to vote.”

“He tried to tell me to tell her to be careful when she’s voting. He was trying to tell me stuff to scare her from voting.”

Bojorquez also said her mother felt wary about the visit.

“My mom is confused because she doesn’t understand why she’s being put through this because she voted. She doesn’t trust anybody anymore,” Bojorquez said, requesting that her mother’s name not be published again.

These visits by Mr. Rogers’ investigator were also confirmed by Zachary Roth at TPMMuckraker:

Minority voters in New Mexico report to TPMMuckraker that a private investigator working with Republican party lawyer Pat Rogers has appeared in person at the homes of their family members, intimidating and confusing them about their right to vote in the general election.

* * *

The visits to minority voters by the P.I. appear to be connected to last week’s effort.

* * *

Guadalupe Bojorquez, who works in law enforcement in Albuquerque, told TPMmuckraker today that her mother, [name redacted], was one of the ten voters whose names were released by the GOP. After this happened, said Bojorquez, her mother had been contacted by the voter registration group ACORN. Bojorquez, with ACORN’s help, confirmed with the county clerk that her mother, who does not speak English, is indeed eligible to vote, and had been when she voted in June.

Nonetheless, Bojorquez said that her mother yesterday received a visit from a man who asked for her personal information, including an ID, in reference to her eligibility to vote. Bojorquez told TPMmuckraker that according to her mother, at one point the man asked what she would do if immigration authorities contacted her.

After Bojorquez’s mother, frightened, refused to let him in the door, the man waited outside her house. Eventually, Bojorquez’s brother arrived at the house, emboldening Bojorquez’s mother to go outside, call Bojorquez, and put her on the phone with the man.

Bojorquez said the man told her he wanted to make sure her mother knew that she shouldn’t be voting, and continued to ask for her mother’s personal information. When Bojorquez said that no information would be handed over unless the man revealed who he was employed by, he said he was a private investigator hired by Pat Rogers. He told Bojorquez his name was Al Romero, and left a number at which Bojorquez could contact him.

Bojorquez added that in fact, her mother has already voted in the general election, by absentee ballot — which she is eligible for because she has trouble walking — so Romero’s efforts on that front were in vain.

Another Albuquerque woman had a similar experience.

Jenais Griego told TPMmuckraker that yesterday, as she arrived home with her kids, a man in a beige Chevy Silverado pulled up, removed a notebook from his pocket, and said he was looking for Emily Garcia. Garcia is Griego’s grandmother — Griego said Garcia, who works as a home care-giver, lists Griego’s address for her mail — and, like [name redacted], was one of the voters named by the GOP last week as having voted fraudulently in June.

Griego said she allowed the man in, and when she asked him for identification, he pulled out a card that gave his name as Al Romero. She said the man had a redacted copy of Garcia’s voter registration form, and asked whether Garcia intended to vote. He said if she intended to do so, she needed to make sure she was properly registered.

As with Bojorquez and [name redacted], Griego said that Garcia had already confirmed after the GOP press conference that she was indeed a valid voter. An ACORN worker had come to her house to explain that the GOP had questioned her registration, and, along with Griego, they had contacted the county clerk to ensure that she could legitimately vote, and had done so in June.

So when Romero asked Griego whether Garcia intended to vote, Griego replied that she did. At that point, said Griego, Romero became “angry” and “upset,” and left abruptly.

Rogers did not return several calls from TPMmuckraker seeking comment. But last week he said that the state party had hired a private investigator in connection with vote fraud*. And asked yesterday by the New Mexico Independent about the confrontations with voters, he replied: “I have no interest in responding to ACORN’s accusation.”

Reached by TPMmuckraker at the phone number he provided to Bojorquez, Romero said he didn’t have time to talk about the matter. He did not respond to repeated follow-up calls.

*This sentence has been corrected from an earlier version.

In response, Project Vote has requested that New Mexico U.S. Attorney Gregory Fouratt begin investigating these allegations of voter intimidation and vote suppression, including the intimidation of Ms. Rivera, Ms. [name redacted], Ms. Garcia and Mr. “Francisco Martinez, 19, who registered to vote for the first time when volunteers came to his high school in May. Mr. Martinez said Monday that he felt like he was being bullied and intimidated out of his rights as an American. ‘This is my first time voting, and it’s important to me to be part of history,’ Mr. Martinez said.” In his October 23, 2008, letter to U.S. Attorney Fouratt requesting the investigation, Project Vote Election Counsel Donald Wine II wrote:

We here at Project Vote, on behalf of several voters of the State of New Mexico write to request an investigation into increased efforts to intimidate voters and suppress minority voters by representatives of the New Mexico Republican Party.

Members of the New Mexico Republican Party called a press conference last week where they named 10 Albuquerque residents as frauds who they allege voted illegally in the New Mexico primaries. ACORN made contact with 8 of the 10 voters on that list distributed by the New Mexico Republican Party. All of the voters identify as Democratic, all are minorities (9 of the 10 are Latino), and most of them are 18 or 19 years old. One of the voters is a new citizen who was naturalized in 2007 and was voting for the first time. ACORN found that all of the voters they contacted are legitimate voters that were eligible to vote and had no problems with their registrations.

Now that the Republicans have found that the people they alleged were frauds were in fact legitimate voters, they have begun to intimidate these voters. Already, 2 of the 10 voters have been visited by a private investigator in an effort to keep these voters silent. Also, the fact that all 10 of the voters that were named on this list were minority voters, 9 of which are Latino, as well as mostly younger voters, indicates a concerted effort to suppress the vote of a particular class of voters.

This form of intimidation and suppression is in direct violation of Section 12 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, as well as Section 2. We feel that the right of all Americans to vote is of the utmost importance, and if there is credible evidence of voter intimidation and suppression of a particular class of voters, it should be addressed and promptly prosecuted. We request that you conduct an immediate investigation into the attempts by the Republican Party of New Mexico to intimidate minority, first-time voters into not exercising their right to vote. To the extent that your investigation uncovers that any federal laws have also been violated, we ask that your office refer the matter to the proper federal authorities.

In addition to Mr. Wine’s allegations that Mr. Rogers’ and his investigator’s conduct violated federal law, Zachary Roth at TPMMuckraker also reports that Mr. Rogers’ and Mr. Romero’s conduct likely violates federal law:

Four separate experts on voting rights have confirmed to TPMmuckraker that the behavior of a private investigator apparently hired by a New Mexico Republican party lawyer, that we reported this morning, potentially violates federal voting laws.

Gerry Hebert, a former acting head of the voting rights section of the Department of Justice, told TPMmuckraker that the P.I.’s actions appear to violate the criminal section of the federal Voting Rights Act, which makes it a crime to willfully injure, intimidate, or interfere with a person attempting to vote. Hebert added that a separate statute makes it a crime to conspire to intimidate someone in exercising their right to vote — a provision that could apply to GOP lawyer Pat Rogers or others in the state party who may have been involved in the scheme.

“A matter like that ought to be reported to the DOJ immediately,” said Hebert, adding that he planned to do so.

Jon Greenbaum of the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights agreed, and added that the activities detailed in TPMmuckraker’s report could violate both criminal and civil voting rights statutes. Greenbaum pointed to a civil provision of the Voting Rights Act which says that it violates the law to intimidate, threaten or coerce someone from voting or not voting.

Greenbaum too said he planned to pass on to the Department of Justice the claims made in our report.

Rick Hasen, a professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles and a noted expert on election law, also said that the behavior potentially violated the Voting Rights Act or other federal civil-rights statutes.

And Wendy Weiser, a voting-rights expert at the Brennan Center for Justice, further confirmed that take.

An Albuquerque woman told TPMmuckraker yesterday that a man identifying himself as a private investigator hired by Rogers came to her mother’s house Wednesday asking her mother for personal information and warning her not to vote if she wasn’t properly registered. A second woman in the same city provided a similar report to TPMmuckraker. The voters’ names had been publicly released last week by Rogers and others affiliated with the state party, who claimed that 28 mostly Hispanic people had voted fraudulently in June. It was later determined that many of the people whose names had been released were valid voters.

In spite of the evidence to the contrary, Mr. Rogers may claim that he has fulfilled his special responsibility for the quality of justice and may deny that he engaged in improper conduct or harbored improper motives. However, any such claims or denials are not determinative of whether or not he violated the law and the New Mexico Rules of Professional Conduct by using the law’s procedures to harass or intimidate others. Instead, whether he “actually supposed the fact in question to be true” or not, i.e., whether Mr. Rogers actually believes any denial of improper conduct, “may be inferred from circumstances” in which the alleged misconduct occurred. See Terminology, New Mexico Rules of Professional Conduct. Even if Mr. Rogers actually believed his actions were proper, that belief would only be reasonable if “the circumstances are such that the belief is reasonable.” However, because “a lawyer of reasonable prudence and competence would [have] ascertain[ed]” that Mr. Rogers’ conduct was improper, Mr. Rogers should have known he was acting unethically.

Specifically, the circumstances existing nationally quash any inference that Mr. Rogers may believe that his conduct was appropriate:

It’s worth noting, in response to the news that the FBI has launched an investigation into whether ACORN was involved in a nationwide voter-registration fraud scheme, that the launch of the probe comes at a time national Republicans at several different levels have sought to make an issue out of ACORN — in some cases calling for just such an investigation.

Last week, John McCain told a Florida crowd:

“There are serious allegations of voter fraud in the battleground states across America. They must be investigated.” The GOP standard-bearer has continued to sound the alarm over ACORN since then, and brought it up at last night’s debate.

GOP House leader John Boehner last week called in a statement for ACORN to be de-funded — it is currently eligible for federal housing funds — and charged that over the years, ACORN “has committed fraud on our system of elections, making American voters question the fairness and accuracy of the exercise of their most fundamental right under the Constitution.”

Last week the RNC held at least five separate conference calls with reporters to stoke fears of voter fraud connected to ACORN.

And numerous state- and local-level Republicans have also in the last few weeks called publicly for authorities to look into ACORN.

What’s Behind the Feds’ ACORN Probe?, Zachary Roth, TPMMuckraker, October 16, 2008.

Furthermore, the circumstances surrounding Mr. Rogers’ effort to suppress the vote in New Mexico in 2008 are nothing new. To the contrary, they are part of a multi-year, ongoing effort to challenge the voting rights of New Mexicans, as confirmed by Rep. John Conyers in his letter to United States Attorney General Michael Mukasey:

Mr. Rogers, however, appears repeatedly in the report on the U.S. Attorney firings, prepared by the Department’s Office of the Inspector General and Professional Responsibility, which documented his actions making flawed claims of voter fraud and bringing unwarranted pressure to bear on law enforcement officials, including Mr. Iglesias, in 2006.

On October 24, 2008, Zachary Roth at TPMMuckraker reported further on the circumstances surrounding Mr. Rogers’ conduct:

… Rogers’ role in pressing [fired U.S. Attorney David] Iglesias to pursue voter fraud prosecutions was extensive. According to the OIG report on the firings, Rogers set up a lunch meeting with Iglesias, and met with an FBI agent — among many other activities — to push the issue.

Perhaps most damagingly, the report contains a September 2004 email sent to Iglesias and several staffers for New Mexico’s GOP congressional delegation, in which Rogers admitted that he was interested in the issue in large part for its potential to help the GOP:

I believe the [voter] ID issue should be used (now) at all levels – federal, state legislative races and Heather [Wilson]’s race … You are not going to find a better wedge issue … I’ve got to believe the [voter] ID issue would do Heather more good than another ad talking about how much federal taxpayer money she has put into the (state) education system and social security … This is the single best wedge issue, ever in NM. We will not have this opportunity again … Today, we expect to file a new Public Records lawsuit, by 3 Republican legislators, demanding the Bernalillo county clerk locate and produce (before Oct 15) ALL of the registrations signed by the ACORN employee.

But Rogers is no mere local player on the Republican voter fraud team. He was on the board of the American Center for Voting Rights (ACVR), a fake think-tank which was little more than an effort by GOP operatives to offer an intellectual gloss to politically motivated claims of voter fraud — and which abruptly closed down operations in 2007.

ACVR was run by Mark “Thor” Hearne, who served as national election counsel to President Bush’s 2004 reelection campaign. Jim Dyke — who was the communications director of the Republican National Committee during the 2004 election, and went on to work for both the White House and for Vice President Cheney — was also involved.

Writing in Slate last year, election-law expert Rick Hasen described ACVR’s modus operandi:

Consisting of little more than a post-office box and some staffers who wrote reports and gave helpful quotes about the pervasive problems of voter fraud to the press, the group identified Democratic cities as hot spots for voter fraud, then pushed the line that “election integrity” required making it harder for people to vote. The group issued reports (PDF) on areas in the country of special concern, areas that coincidentally tended to be presidential battleground states. In many of these places, it now appears the White House was pressuring U.S. attorneys to bring more voter-fraud prosecutions.

Here’s Rogers, on behalf of ACVR, telling CNN back in 2004 about the need for “safeguards to make sure that citizens only are voting.”

And now this is the guy who’s involved in pushing voter fraud claims in connection with an investigation in which the FBI is already involved.

Clearly, the background and circumstances in this matter, however, do not permit the inference that Mr. Rogers believed his conduct was appropriate. Accordingly, Mr. Rogers has engaged in conduct that violates the following New Mexico Rules of Professional Conduct:

16-102. Scope of representation.

* * *

D. Course of conduct. A lawyer shall not engage, or counsel a client to engage, or assist a client, in conduct that the lawyer knows is criminal or fraudulent or which misleads the court, but a lawyer may discuss the legal consequences of any proposed course of conduct with a client and may counsel or assist a client to make a good faith effort to determine the validity, scope, meaning or application of the law.

* * *

16-116. Declining or terminating representation.

A. Mandatory disqualification. Except as stated in Paragraph C, a lawyer shall not represent a client or, where representation has commenced, shall withdraw from the representation of a client if:

(1) the representation will result in violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct or other law;

* * *

16-401. Truthfulness in statements to others.

In the course of representing a client a lawyer shall not knowingly:

A. make a false statement of material fact or law to a third person; or

B. fail to disclose a material fact to a third person when disclosure is necessary to avoid assisting a criminal or fraudulent act by a client, unless disclosure is prohibited by Rule 16-106.

16-403. Dealing with unrepresented person.

In dealing on behalf of a client with a person who is not represented by counsel, a lawyer shall not state or imply that the lawyer is disinterested. When the lawyer knows or reasonably should know that the unrepresented person misunderstands the lawyer’s role in the matter, the lawyer shall make reasonable efforts to correct the misunderstanding.

16-404. Respect for rights of third persons.

In representing a client, a lawyer shall not use means that have no substantial purpose other than to embarrass, delay or burden a third person, or use methods of obtaining evidence that violate the legal rights of such a person.

16-503. Responsibilities regarding nonlawyer assistants.

With respect to a nonlawyer employed or retained by or associated with a lawyer:

A. a partner in a law firm shall make reasonable efforts to ensure that the firm has in effect measures giving reasonable assurance that the person’s conduct is compatible with the professional obligations of the lawyer;

B. a lawyer having direct supervisory authority over the nonlawyer shall make reasonable efforts to ensure that the person’s conduct is compatible with the professional obligations of the lawyer; and

C. a lawyer shall be responsible for conduct of such a person that would be a violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct if engaged in by a lawyer if:

(1) the lawyer orders or, with the knowledge of the specific conduct, ratifies the conduct involved ; or

* * *

16-804. Misconduct.

It is professional misconduct for a lawyer to:

A. violate or attempt to violate the Rules of Professional Conduct, knowingly assist or induce another to do so, or do so through the acts of another;

B. commit a criminal act that reflects adversely on the lawyer’s honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer in other respects;

C. engage in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation;

D. engage in conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice;

* * *

H. engage in any conduct that adversely reflects on his fitness to practice law.

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Full Text of the New Mexico Rules of Professional Conduct violated by Mr. Rogers