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Anderson v. The Mississippi Bar

Supreme Court of Mississippi, En Banc

December 6, 2018

JOHN H. ANDERSON
v.
THE MISSISSIPPI BAR

          ATTORNEY FOR PETITIONER: CHARLES E. LAWRENCE, JR.

          ATTORNEY FOR RESPONDENT: ADAM BRADLEY KILGORE

          MAXWELL, JUSTICE

         ¶1. John H. Anderson petitions for reinstatement to the practice of law following a six- month suspension. After review, we find his petition does not adequately state the cause for his suspension, which is a jurisdictional requirement for reinstatement.[1] We thus deny his petition for reinstatement.

         Procedural History

         ¶2. On November 30, 2017, the Complaint Tribunal appointed by this Court found the Mississippi Bar had proved by clear and convincing evidence that Anderson had violated Mississippi Rule of Professional Conduct 8.1(b) by failing to respond to the Bar's lawful demands for information. The Complaint Tribunal further found Anderson had violated Rules 8.4(a) and (d) by committing misconduct in violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct and by engaging in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice. The Tribunal suspended Anderson from the practice of law for six months.

         ¶3. The only way to be reinstated following a suspension of six months or longer is to petition this Court. Miss. R. Discipline 12(a). Anderson originally filed his petition on June 22, 2018. Because Anderson's petition fell short of the jurisdictional requirements of Rule 12.7, the Bar moved to dismiss it. See Miss. R. Discipline 12.7.

         ¶4. Anderson responded to the Bar's motion to dismiss with a motion to amend his petition. He attached his proposed amended petition to his motion. The Bar did not object to Anderson's amending his petition. Rather, it responded as if Anderson's petition had already been amended. But it still took the view that Anderson's petition, as amended, failed to contain the jurisdictional matters required by Rule 12.7. With no objection from the Bar, we deny its motion to dismiss Anderson's original petition filed June 22, 2018. And we grant Anderson's motion to amend and consider the amended petition he filed July 17, 2018.

         Discussion

         ¶5. This Court has exclusive jurisdiction over attorney reinstatements and "review[s] the evidence in disciplinary matters de novo on a case-by-case basis as triers of fact." In re Benson, 890 So.2d 888, 889 (Miss. 2004). The petitioner carries the burden to prove by clear and convincing evidence "that he has rehabilitated himself and established the requisite moral character to entitle him to the privilege of practicing law." Id. (citing In re Holleman, 826 So.2d 1243, 1246 (Miss. 2002)); Wong v. Miss. Bar, 5 So.3d 369, 371 (Miss. 2008). ¶6. "The petitioner must demonstrate this by meeting the jurisdictional requirements of Rule 12." In re Benson, 890 So.2d at 890. Rule 12 requires the petitioner to:

(1) state the cause or causes for suspension;
(2) give the name and current address of all persons, parties, firms, or legal entities who suffered pecuniary loss due to the improper conduct;
(3) make full amends and restitution,
(4) show that he has the necessary moral character for the ...

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