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Hayden Fisher "false and misleading" answers in US Court

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The Court concludes that Fisher should be sanctioned for his reprehensible conduct. The minimum appropriate sanction sufficient to deter repetition of such conduct in the future is the denial of Fisher’s Application. Fisher will not be permitted to practice before this Court.

The Court finds Fisher’s conscious decision to withhold information concerning the public reprimand violated the duty of candor Fisher owed to the Court.* The certification made by Fisher in his Application was materially incorrect. It was both false and misleading.

*Rule 3.3(a)(1) of the Virginia Rules of Professional Conduct provides: “A lawyer shall not knowingly: (1) make a false statement of fact or law to a tribunal.”

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Hayden Fisher "false and misleading" answers in US Court

  1. 1. UNITED STATES BANKRUPTCY COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF VIRGINIA RICHMOND DIVISION In the Matter of: DOUGLASS HAYDEN FISHER, Misc. Pro. No. 15-00301-KRH ORDER This matter comes before the Court on the Application of Douglass Hayden Fisher (“Fisher”) to Qualify as an Attorney for the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Virginia (the “Application”) under Local Bankruptcy Rule 2090-1. In the Application submitted on March 23, 2015, Fisher certified to the Court under penalty of perjury that he had “not been reprimanded in any court nor ha[d] there been any action in any court pertaining to [his] conduct or fitness as a member of the bar.” Fisher did not disclose that he had been publically reprimanded on January 30, 2014 under procedures established by the Supreme Court of Virginia in Part Six, § IV, ¶ 13-15.B.4 of the Rules of the Supreme Court of Virginia. In the Matter of Douglass Hayden Fisher, VSB Docket No. 13-032-094098 (3d. District Subcommittee, Sec. II 2014). The Virginia State Bar entered its reprimand of Fisher after two hearings conducted on December 20, 2013 and January 23, 2014. The Virginia State Bar found that Fisher had violated several Virginia Rules of Professional Conduct. Specifically, the Virginia State Bar found that Fisher had violated rules pertaining to diligence, communication, safekeeping of property, and declining or terminating representation. Fisher did not appeal the reprimand to the Supreme Court of Virginia, as he had the right to do. See Rules of the Supreme Court of Virginia, Part VI, § IV, ¶13-26. Case 15-00301-KRH Doc 14 Filed 05/11/15 Entered 05/11/15 08:21:00 Desc Main Document Page 1 of 4
  2. 2. 2 As a result of Fisher’s failure to disclosure the reprimand in his Application, the Court opened this miscellaneous proceeding on April 2, 2015 and set Fisher’s Application for hearing on April 8, 2015 (the “Hearing”). Notice of the Hearing was sent to Fisher on April 4, 2015, by first class mail addressed to Douglass Hayden Fisher, Fisher Law, PO Box 7321, 2401 West Main Street, Richmond, VA 23220-4436.1 Despite the issuance of due and proper notice via first class mail, Fisher failed to appear at the Hearing. Fed R. Bankr. P. 7004(b)(1). As a result of Fisher’s failure to attend the Hearing, the Court entered an Order on April 9, 2010: (i) Denying Fisher’s Application pending a subsequent hearing that the Court scheduled for May 6, 2015 (the “May 6 Hearing”); (ii) terminating Fisher’s right to participate in the Court’s CM/ECF System in the interim; and (iii) ordering Fisher to appear at the May 6 Hearing to show cause why he should not be sanctioned for submitting an Application to the Court with a false certification. On April 10, 2015, Fisher filed a Memorandum in Opposition to the Court’s order to show cause, alleging, among other things, that he did not receive adequate notice of the Hearing. Fisher subsequently did appear at the May 6 Hearing. In response to the Court’s query, Fisher advised that he did not seek leave to retain counsel and was prepared to proceed with the May 6 Hearing on his own behalf. Fisher thereupon admitted that he had read the Application and was fully cognizant of the certification he had made to the Court. Fisher explained that after speaking with another attorney about the matter, he decided that disclosure of the public reprimand was not necessary. Fisher advised that he had filed the Application in haste at the request of a client. Fisher explained that he had wanted to avoid drawing attention to the disciplinary action taken by the Virginia State Bar. Fisher contended that he did not mislead the Court by failing to make the disclosure requested in the Application because the reprimand was 1 This is the address Fisher provided to the Court in connection with his Application materials. Case 15-00301-KRH Doc 14 Filed 05/11/15 Entered 05/11/15 08:21:00 Desc Main Document Page 2 of 4
  3. 3. 3 public. Fisher argued that, as the reprimand had come from an agency of the Supreme Court of Virginia, and not from the Supreme Court itself, there had been no action in “any court” pertaining to his conduct or fitness. Accordingly, he concluded that disclosure of the reprimand was not technically required. Now having considered Fisher’s explanations and arguments, the Court finds that Fisher made a conscious decision not to disclose the public reprimand. Virginia Code section 54.1- 3910 authorizes the Virginia State Bar, as an administrative agency of the Supreme Court of Virginia, to enforce the Virginia Rules of Professional Conduct. Part Six of the Rules of the Supreme Court of Virginia provides the framework under which the Virginia State Bar operates and promulgates the Virginia Rules of Professional Conduct under which attorneys practice law in the Commonwealth of Virginia.2 The Virginia State Bar reprimanded Fisher pursuant to Rules adopted and procedures established by the Supreme Court of Virginia. The reprimand was directly appealable to the Supreme Court of Virginia under Part Six, § IV, ¶ 13-26 of the Rules of the Supreme Court of Virginia. Fisher’s technicality argument, which focuses on the words “any court,” is nothing but misguided sophistry.3 The information requested in the Application pertaining to fitness or conduct as a member of the bar was abundantly clear to Fisher. Otherwise Fisher would not have sought counsel from a fellow attorney. Rather than deciding to proceed forthrightly in an open and honest manner, Fisher deliberately chose to parse the language in the Application to his 2 The ethical standards relating to the practice of law in this Court are the Virginia Rules of Professional Conduct. Local Rule 2090-1(I). Those Rules outline “the mandatory minimum level of acceptable conduct for attorneys.” In re Soulisak, 227 B.R. 77, 80 (Bankr. E.D. Va. 1998) (emphasis added). 3 The term “court” commonly applies to any place where justice is administered. See e.g., Random House Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary 464 (2nd ed. 1999). The term is not confined to refer, as Fisher suggests, exclusively to the Supreme Court of Virginia. Even if the Virginia State Bar were not an administrative agency of the Supreme Court of Virginia, the term would, nevertheless, apply to it where it is presiding in its capacity as an adjudicative tribunal deciding disputes pertaining to ethical conduct. Case 15-00301-KRH Doc 14 Filed 05/11/15 Entered 05/11/15 08:21:00 Desc Main Document Page 3 of 4
  4. 4. 4 own purposes in order to circumvent disclosure of an uncomfortable truth concerning his prior conduct. Fisher’s calculated gambit only compounded the problem. The Court finds Fisher’s conscious decision to withhold information concerning the public reprimand violated the duty of candor Fisher owed to the Court.4 The certification made by Fisher in his Application was materially incorrect. It was both false and misleading. “A federal court has an inherent power ‘to control admission to its bar and to discipline attorneys who appear before it.’” In re Parker, No. 3:14cv241, 2014 WL 4809844, at *5 (E.D. Va. Sept. 26, 2014) (quoting Chambers v. NASCO, Inc., 501 U.S. 32, 43 (1991)). The Court concludes that Fisher should be sanctioned for his reprehensible conduct. The minimum appropriate sanction sufficient to deter repetition of such conduct in the future is the denial of Fisher’s Application. Fisher will not be permitted to practice before this Court. In consideration whereof, It is ORDERED that Fisher’s Application be and it hereby is DENIED on a final basis, and it is further ORDERED that the Clerk’s Office shall serve a copy of this Order via first class mail to Fisher at the following addresses: (i) Douglass Hayden Fisher, Fisher Law, PO Box 7321, Richmond, VA 23220-4436, and (ii) Douglass Hayden Fisher, Fisher Law, 2401 West Main Street, Richmond, VA 23220-4436. ENTERED: /s/ Kevin R. Huennekens UNITED STATES BANKRUPTCY JUDGE 4 Rule 3.3(a)(1) of the Virginia Rules of Professional Conduct provides: “A lawyer shall not knowingly: (1) make a false statement of fact or law to a tribunal.” May 11, 2015 Entered on Docket: 5/11/15 Case 15-00301-KRH Doc 14 Filed 05/11/15 Entered 05/11/15 08:21:00 Desc Main Document Page 4 of 4

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