[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?

 

One thought on “What’s Wrong with Minnesota Lawyer Discipline and the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility?

  1. Kevin Slator

    Your post omitted the important fact that Mr. Capistrant had already been suspended by the Minnesota Supreme Court when he was told in November 2015 that further noncooperation would lead to the filing of charges. His license had already been “taken away” by that point, and he wasn’t getting it back again unless and until he petitioned for reinstatement, appeared before a LPRB panel, and convinced both the panel and the court to reinstate him. Protection of the public is paramount, but there was really no threat to the public because as was already suspended as of May 2015.

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