On November 20, 2009, the LASC reinstated New Orleans lawyer Joseph M. Bruno to the practice of law in state courts. See In re Bruno, LASC No. 09-OB-2227 (filed Nov. 20, 2009). The court suspended Mr. Bruno more than two years ago for providing an improper inducement to a witness. The Office of Disciplinary Counsel objected to his reinstatement, contending that Mr. Bruno’s on-going federal practice during this period of state suspension constituted the unauthorized practice of law. The ODC took this position despite that an express order of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana authorized his post-suspension federal practice.
The LASC followed the recommendation of the Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board which held (in a 5-4 decision filed on October 13, 2009) that “[i]t is well settled that the federal courts have full authority to dictate who may or may not practice before them.” The federal courts’ “authority to grant admission is not subject to state oversight.” Id. at 18. As a result, “Bruno demonstrated by clear and convincing evidence that he did not engage in the unauthorized practice of law during his period of suspension.” Id. at 19. (Disclaimer: Mr. Bruno was represented by blog author Dane S. Ciolino.)