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Disciplinary Reporter Case Digest

Attorney ID 20445
Attorney Name Phillips, Romaine G.
DBP Docket No. 25 DB 1988
Supreme Court Docket No. 611 DD No. 2
County Philadelphia
Disciplinary Counsel Raymond S. Wierciszewski
Counsel for Respondent James C. Schwartzman
Decision Date 2002-06-19
Effective Date 2002-06-19
Case Digest In 1988, Mr. Phillips was convicted in federal court of conspiring to participate in the affairs of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County through a pattern of racketeering activity. As a result of the conviction, he was placed on temporary suspension in March 1988. In August 1992, the Disciplinary Board unanimously recommended that Mr. Phillips be disbarred and made extensive factual findings detailing his criminal conduct. In particular, the Board found that Petitioner’s “conduct consisted of bribing a judge and a judicial officer for favorable court rulings, conspiracy with a judge to raise or impose bail or impose jail sentences upon criminal defendants until [his] legal fees were paid, conspiring with a judge to raise bail or impose jail sentences in order to extort money from criminal defendants, and conspiring to steer cases involving criminal defendants to certain judges in the court system of Philadelphia County to obtain favorable results.” The Board expressly found that such conduct “evidence[d] a person of disreputable character.” The Supreme Court disbarred Phillips in 1992. He petitioned for reinstatement in August 1999. The Hearing Committee issued a Report and Recommendation recommending that the petition for reinstatement be denied. The Hearing Committee found under Office of Disciplinary Counsel v. Keller, 506 A.2d 872 (Pa. 1986) that Phillips’ misconduct was a breach of trust that was so egregious as to preclude him from ever being reinstated to the practice of law. The Disciplinary Board issued a Report and Recommendation disagreeing with the Hearing Committee. The Disciplinary Board recommended that Mr. Phillips be reinstated. After the parties submitted briefs to the Supreme Court, the Court issued an Order dated June 19, 2002, holding that “the Petition for Reinstatement is denied and petitioner is forever barred from the practice of law in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. See Office of Disciplinary Counsel v. Keller, 506 A.2d 872 (Pa. 1986).”
Rule Violation(s)
Discipline Imposed Reinstatement denied
Points of Law According to the Disciplinary Board’s Report and Recommendation, “[t]his case present[ed] squarely for the first time the issue of whether the conduct which led to” an attorney’s “disbarment was so egregious that he can never be readmitted to the practice of law in Pennsylvania.” The Supreme Court’s Order answered that question in the affirmative. For the first time, the Supreme Court held that the conduct which led to a lawyer’s disbarment was so egregious that the lawyer can never be readmitted to the practice of law in Pennsylvania.
Report/Opinion Download