Sarah Voehl

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Case Synopsis

In an opinion drafted by Justice Herndon, the Nevada Supreme Court considered whether attorneys who hold public office are subject to the disciplinary jurisdiction, boards, and hearing panels created by the Supreme Court Rules. The respondent, attorney Christopher R. Arabia, argued he should be exempted from the rule because (1) he is entitled to qualified immunity, or (2) he is only subject to the jurisdiction of the Commission on Ethics for his misconduct while he holds public office. The Court rejected both arguments and held that an attorney who engages in professional misconduct while in public office is subject to the disciplinary jurisdiction of the Court and the disciplinary boards and hearing panels created under the Supreme Court Rules regardless of whether the misconduct also falls within the Commission on Ethics’ jurisdiction. The Court adopted the hearing panel’s recommendation to reprimand Arabia for violations of RPC 1.7 (conflict of interest: current clients) and RPC 8.4(d) (misconduct prejudicial to the administration of justice).