Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

MISSISSIPPI STATE BAR v. WALTER L. NIXON

SEPTEMBER 24, 1986

MISSISSIPPI STATE BAR
v.
WALTER L. NIXON, JR.



BEFORE HAWKINS, P.J.; PRATHER AND ROBERTSON, JJ.

ROBERTSON, JUSTICE, FOR THE COURT:

Walter L. Nixon, Jr. of Biloxi, Mississippi, by virtue of the authority of the State of Mississippi, was licensed to practice law on March 11, 1952, a license he has held through and including this day. This license is the subject of the present bar disciplinary proceedings.

On July 26, 1968, Nixon formally assumed the office of United States District Judge, serving the Southern District of Mississippi. See 28 U.S.C. 104(b). On September 24, 1982, he was elevated to the office of Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi, an office he now holds.

 On February 9, 1986, Judge Nixon was convicted in the United States District Court of the Southern District of Mississippi of two counts of perjury in violation of Section 1623, Title 18, United States Code. Upon the jury's verdict, the District Court on March 31, 1986, entered a final judgment

 of conviction and imposed sentence. The matter is presently pending before the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit upon Nixon's appeal.

 On April 18, 1986, the Mississippi State Bar filed its formal complaint urging that, by reason of the aforesaid conviction, Judge Nixon be stripped of his license to practice law in the State of Mississippi. In due course Judge Nixon answered the complaint and has filed motions to dismiss asserting, among other reasons, want of jurisdiction, and, in the alternative, for an indefinite suspension of these proceedings pending appeal. These matters are here this day for our consideration and decision.

 The Rules of Discipline for the Mississippi State Bar heretofore adopted by this Court, effective January 1, 1984, have as their primary object stewardship of the license to practice law in this state. All holders of such licenses are by virtue thereof subject to the exclusive and inherent jurisdiction of this Court, see Mississippi State Bar v. Phillips, 385 So.2d 943, 944 (Miss. 1980); Matter of Mississippi State Bar, 361 So.2d 503, 505 (Miss. 1978), as well as the proscriptions on conduct and penalties and procedures attendant upon violations of same, all as set forth in the Rules of Discipline.

 The Bar's complaint is predicated upon Rule 6(a) of the Rules of Discipline. That rule provides, in pertinent part, as follows:

 Whenever any attorney subject to the disciplinary jurisdiction of the Court shall be convicted . . . in any federal court, . . . of any felony . . . or of any misdemeanor involving fraud, dishonesty, misrepresentation, deceit, or willful failure to account for money or property of a client, a certified copy of the judgment of conviction shall be presented to the Court by Complaint Counsel and shall be conclusive evidence thereof. The Court shall then forthwith strike the name of the attorney and order his immediate suspension from the practice of law.

 The Mississippi State Bar has presented to this Court a certified copy of the aforesaid judgment of conviction entered March 31, 1986, adjudging Walter L. Nixon, Jr., guilty of two counts of perjury in violation of 18 U.S.C. 1623. This Judgment reflects a conviction in a federal court. Perjury

 under 18 U.S.C. 1623 is a felony within the meaning and contemplation of Rule 6(a). See Matter of Sweeney, 95 A.D.2d 579, 467 N.Y.S.2d 585, 586 (1983); In Re Ruggiero, 40 A.D.2d 135, 338 N.Y.S.2d 749, 750 (1972). Even if the offense might arguably be considered a misdemeanor, it is certainly one involving "dishonesty, misrepresentation, and deceit." See Matter of Meisnere, 471 A.2d 269-70 (D.C.Cir.1984). The rule is satisfied. We do not look behind the District Court's judgment of conviction. Both Rule 6(a) and elementary notions of full faith and credit require acceptance here of the validity and propriety of that judgment. See Mississippi State Bar v. Phillips, 385 So.2d 943, 945-46 (Miss. 1980).

 Notwithstanding the foregoing, Judge Nixon presents a variety of reasons why we should dismiss the present proceedings or at least stay our hand until final adjudication on appeal of the federal criminal proceedings against him.

 First, Nixon argues that, because he is a United States District Judge, any authority this Court might otherwise have by virtue of his license to practice law is preempted by Articles I and III of the Constitution of the United States. The argument, earnestly pressed, invokes considerations fundamental to the nature of our federal republic. We do not transgress upon federal turf when we limit our action to the license the State of Mississippi has issued Nixon. What importance the federal sovereign may attach to whether Nixon holds from this state a license to practice law is a matter of federal law beyond our authority and concern, and so of the question what action, if any, federal authorities may take upon our suspension of Nixon's license to practice law.

 Nixon argues that suspension of his license would be a vain and futile act. He relies upon the record which reflects that he is not practicing law at this time and that he has not practiced law since July 26, 1968, the date he assumed the office of United States District Judge. He is prohibited from practicing law by virtue of federal law. See 28 U.S.C. 454; ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.