Like most states’ rules, the Connecticut Practice Book allows attorneys admitted to practice law in other states (but not Connecticut) to represent a client in a Connecticut state court proceeding. It’s called “pro hac vice” which means “for this occasion only.” The status is typically limited to situations where the client and attorney that seeks to be admitted pro hac vice have an established relationship, the client desires that attorney to represent it, and the attorney meets certain requirements. One of those requirements is that the attorney files an affidavit attesting to certain facts, including that the attorney has “no grievances pending” and “has never been reprimanded, suspended, disbarred or otherwise disciplined.”
Well, a New York attorney recently had his pro hac vice status revoked by a Connecticut Superior Court judge. This ruling, which you can read here, is important for two reasons at least, and any attorney seeking pro hac vice admission in Connecticut state court should read the decision closely. First, the New York attorney had previously been the subject of a non-monetary Rule 11 sanction issued by a federal judge. (Rule 11 was made famous in “A Civil Action” by John Travolta; I confess that I have watched that movie at least 6 times). Second, the New York attorney had also been suspended from the practice of law in New York for not filing his bi-annual registration and not paying the required fees. While the latter issue was not a suspension based upon the lawyer’s “practice of law,” it was, nevertheless, a suspension.
The Connecticut state court judge, after holding an evidentiary hearing during which the New York attorney testified, revoked the attorney’s pro hac vice status finding that he failed to disclose the Rule 11 sanction and the suspension, both which he should have disclosed under the “reprimanded, suspended, disbarred or otherwise disciplined” requirements of the rule.
Visiting attorneys beware and be honest about past hiccups no matter how innocent you might consider them, and get advice from your local counsel in Connecticut before you embark down the pro hac viceroad.