ORS 9.527
Grounds for disbarment, suspension or reprimand

The Supreme Court may disbar, suspend or reprimand a member of the bar whenever, upon proper proceedings for that purpose, it appears to the court that:


The member has committed an act or carried on a course of conduct of such nature that, if the member were applying for admission to the bar, the application should be denied;


The member has been convicted in any jurisdiction of an offense which is a misdemeanor involving moral turpitude or a felony under the laws of this state, or is punishable by death or imprisonment under the laws of the United States, in any of which cases the record of the conviction shall be conclusive evidence;


The member has willfully disobeyed an order of a court requiring the member to do or forbear an act connected with the legal profession;


The member is guilty of willful deceit or misconduct in the legal profession;


The member is guilty of willful violation of any of the provisions of ORS 9.460 (Duties of attorneys) or 9.510 (Solicitation by attorneys);


The member is guilty of gross or repeated negligence or incompetence in the practice of law; or


The member has violated any of the provisions of the rules of professional conduct adopted pursuant to ORS 9.490 (Formulation of rules of professional conduct). [Formerly 9.480; 1989 c.1052 §11]

See also annotations under ORS 9.480 in permanent edition.

Notes of Decisions

In general

Suspension or disbarment of a judge as a member of the state bar cannot require his removal as judge, although it would disqualify him from running for reelection as judge while suspended or disbarred. In re Piper, 271 Or 726, 534 P2d 159 (1975)

Isolated instances of ordinary negligence are not alone sufficient to warrant disciplinary action. In re Robert Neil Gygi, 273 Or 443, 541 P2d 1392 (1975)

When court makes order, attorney is not free to disregard it because attorney feels that circumstances of case make order unwise. In re Clostermann, 276 Or 261, 554 P2d 467 (1976)

Where statute speaks specifically to discipline of lawyers, Trial Board and Disciplinary Review Board may consider whether there has been violation of the statute. In re Bridges, 298 Or 53, 688 P2d 1335 (1984)

Attorney who advised client to disobey void order granting preliminary injunction, did not violate this section. In re Tamblyn, 298 Or 620, 695 P2d 902 (1985)

Suspension of attorney does not affect duty of attorney to cooperate with bar investigation or ability of Supreme Court to impose discipline for violations of that duty occurring during suspension period. In re Hereford, 306 Or 69, 756 P2d 30 (1988)

Disciplinary rules apply to both active and inactive bar members. In re Smith, 318 Or 47, 861 P2d 1013 (1993)

In determining appropriate sanction for attorney violating disciplinary rules, factors to be considered are ethical duty violated, lawyer’s mental state, potential or actual injury caused by misconduct, and existence of aggravating or mitigating factors. In re Biggs, 318 Or 281, 864 P2d 1310 (1994)

Absent mitigating circumstances, proper penalty for attorney injuring client by converting client property or by abandoning practice is disbarment. In re Biggs, 318 Or 281, 864 P2d 1310 (1994)

Whether suspended lawyer may be eligible for credit for time spent in voluntary withdrawal from practice of law is determined on case-by-case basis, taking into account factors considered in selecting sanction and whether credit is consistent with protection of public and administration of justice. In re Allen, 326 Or 107, 949 P2d 710 (1997)

In reciprocal disciplinary proceeding, accused may not dispute factual findings entered in other state, but court may elect to either accept findings of other state or to develop separate factual record. In re Page, 326 Or 572, 955 P2d 239 (1998)

In reciprocal discipline case, appropriate sanction is determined by viewing conduct in relation to Oregon disciplinary rules, not status given violation under rules of other state. In re Page, 326 Or 572, 955 P2d 239 (1998)

Conviction is not prerequisite to finding that bar member committed act or carried on course of conduct that would be grounds for denying application for admission. In re Kimmell, 332 Or 480, 31 P3d 414 (2001)

Where conduct of accused qualifies for sanction under both disciplinary rule and this section, dual qualification of conduct for sanction does not enhance applicable penalty. In re McDonough, 336 Or 36, 77 P3d 306 (2003)

Felony or misdemeanor

The conviction of the crime of theft in second degree was a misdemeanor involving moral turpitude for the purposes of this section. In re Mahr, 276 Or 939, 556 P2d 1359 (1976)

Where attorney who was indicted for wilfully failing to file timely income tax returns for four years pleaded guilty to one charge and remaining charges were dismissed, there was sufficient basis for his suspension under this section. In re DesBrisay, 288 Or 625, 606 P2d 1148 (1980)

Misdemeanor conviction for crime of theft is conviction involving moral turpitude. In re Carstens, 297 Or 155, 683 P2d 992 (1984)

Conviction of attempted possession of controlled substance is not misdemeanor involving moral turpitude. In re Chase, 299 Or 391, 702 P2d 1082 (1985); In re Allen, 326 Or 107, 949 P2d 710 (1997)

Attempted possessory offense requires intent or knowledge but not fraud, deceit or dishonesty, does not involve harm to specific victim or illegal activity for personal gain; without any elements beyond intent there is no moral turpitude. In re Chase, 299 Or 391, 702 P2d 1082 (1985)

Offense that is misdemeanor involving moral turpitude or felony cannot also be willful violation of ORS 9.460 requirement that attorney support laws of state. In re Allen, 326 Or 107, 949 P2d 710 (1997)

Provision making “record of conviction” conclusive requires Supreme Court to review record to determine what trial court actually and necessarily resolved in finding defendant guilty. In re Nuss, 335 Or 368, 67 P3d 386 (2003)

In determining whether misdemeanor involves moral turpitude, Supreme Court will consider whether crime: 1) was intentional or knowing; and 2) involved fraud, deceit, dishonesty, illegal activity for personal gain or act of baseness, vileness or depravity in private and social duties owed to others or society. In re Nuss, 335 Or 368, 67 P3d 386 (2003)

Deceit or unprofessional conduct

Attorney was reprimanded for failure to surrender securities after termination of custodianship over client by court order. In re Clostermann, 276 Or 261, 554 P2d 467 (1976)

Although degree of truthfulness expected from lawyer is higher than that expected from others, where lawyer’s misconduct did not take place while acting in his capacity as a lawyer, nor was it such that it could be subject of any criminal or civil sanction if performed by a nonlawyer, lawyer’s improper conduct did not require formal reprimand. In re Jeffrey Steffen, 279 Or 313, 567 P2d 544 (1977)

Where evidence showed that attorney failed to file action, but represented to his clients that he had done so, falsely represented to defense attorney that he had authority to settle for less than clients’ full expenses and failed to inform clients he had settled case, attorney violated this section, even though his false representations were result of failure to correct false impressions rather than result of active misrepresentation. In re Fuller, 284 Or 273, 586 P2d 1111 (1978)

Standard for determination whether misdemeanor involves moral turpitude is not identical to standard for determination under disciplinary rules whether criminal act reflects on lawyer’s fitness to practice law. In re Allen, 326 Or 107, 949 P2d 710 (1997)

Embezzlement generally merits disbarment regardless of whether embezzled money belonged to client or to other persons. In re Murdock, 328 Or 18, 968 P2d 1270 (1998)

Attorney is not exempt from discipline for misrepresentation of identity and purpose made for purpose of acquiring information. In re Gatti, 330 Or 517, 8 P3d 966 (2000)

Law Review Citations

18 WLR 312 (1982)


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May 30, 2023