[Editor’s Note: See the comment, below. It is worth noting that Mr. Capistrant’s discipline took a long time but it is not as if he was practicing law during the drawn-out process. The question still remains: why did it take as long as it did?]
Joseph Michael Capistrant was a Minnesota lawyer whose misconduct was bad enough to warrant disbarment. He never cooperated with the Minnesota Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility (the “OLPR”) for wrong-doing before his suspension in 2018.
In late November 2015, the OLPR gave Mr. Capistrant a deadline to cooperate by 1/14/16 or charges would be filed. But then the OLPR did not file charges against Mr. Capistrant for more than a year after the deadline, on 2/1/17.
It appears that over two years passed between the date that OLPR had information indicating that Capistrant had committed misappropriation from a client and refused to cooperate with the investigation and the date on which Capistrant’s license was finally taken away.
The length of time for OLPR ethics investigation is puzzling and troubling. There are over 100 complaints that have been pending before the OLPR for over one year. There has been some progress in addressing the serious backlog over the past several years but much more is needed.
Minnesota Supreme Court Justice David Stras has been credited with efforts to speed up action and resolution by the OLPR in recent years but he appears to be on his way to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit.
Who will replace him and will they appreciate that there is a serious and on-going problem at the OLPR?