In an extensive order issued today that reflects the difficult nature of the case before them, the Attorney Discipline Board has disbarred former Wayne County assistant prosecutor Karen Plants. A hearing panel of the Board had imposed a two-year suspension, and the Grievance Administrator had petitioned for review. While leading the prosecution of a drug case in 2005, Plants presented a witness without disclosing to the defense that he was a paid informant. She was subsequently convicted of misconduct in office. Here is the order (PDF).
Seven of the nine Board members voted for disbarment. One concurred in part and dissented in part, and two dissented. The majority stressed that the sanction of disbarment for the conduct in question is clear, and were not persuaded that the mitigating evidence was sufficient to reduce the sanction. Member James Cameron wrote in concurrence that he believes that lawyers should not countenance the presentation of perjured testimony under any circumstance and that there is virtually no mitigation that can serve to avoid disbarment when a lawyer engages in such conduct. Member Tom Kienbaum wrote that while he agreed with the conclusion that the misconduct warrants presumptive disbarment, he believed that were mitigating circumstances that should be carefully examined by the hearing panel to determine whether disbarment, as opposed to a suspension for a number of years, is appropriate. Member Carl Ver Beek, joined by member Rosalind Griffin, acknowledged the "extremely reprehensible" nature of the misconduct, but would have affirmed the Panel's decision on the scope of the discipline and "end this sad matter." Plants' story coincidentally resurfaced last week in connection with the arrest of defense attorney David Dunn in an alleged perjury conspiracy in a murder case. According to this Free Press story, members of the criminal defense community contrasted Dunn's treatment to Plants'.