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ISSAQUAH LAW GROUP

Issaquah Law Group: Experienced Counsel; Client Focus

PHILOSOPHY: Formed in 2014, Issaquah Law Group is a law firm with one focus: providing businesses and insurers with high quality legal representation with the responsiveness of a smaller firm. ILG was founded on the principle that strong client relationships are the key to successful legal representation and strong relationships are built upon clear and consistent communication. 

LITIGATION: We work closely with our clients to fully and accurately understand their goals, work collaboratively to formulate specific legal strategies, and execute the agreed plan of action utilizing methods most likely to result in the efficient and effective resolution of the matter. ILG attorneys have a broad base of litigation experience to draw on in all Federal and State courts from on-the-ground investigations to Supreme Court appeals in the areas of personal injury and wrongful death, product liability, commercial general liability, labor & employment, construction litigation, and catastrophic losses due to fire and explosion.

BUSINESS LAW: Rarely is the path from point A to point B a straight line, so our role in a business law practice is to find alternatives, devise workable strategies, and keep your business ideas, goals and objectives moving toward realization. ILG’s business attorneys help clients achieve their goals with respect to business formation, intellectual property, labor and employment, CAN-SPAM, copyright and trademark

COMMUNITY: In addition, the Lawyers at Issaquah Law Group remain active in the legal and civic community. A core commitment of our Issaquah Attorneys is community service. Our attorneys' civic involvement includes the King County Civil Rights Commission; the City of Issaquah Planning Policy Commission; the Northwest Screenwriters Guild, service as a pro tem judge. We live and work in the Pacific Northwest, and we aim to make it a better place.

In addition, through The Amateur Law Professor Blog and LinkedIn postings, we share pertinent opinions and decisions of the Washington State Supreme Court, as well as the pertinent opinions and decisions of the Washington State Courts of Appeal so that our clients can be as update to date on cutting legal issues as we are.

Washington Supreme Court: Sanai gets second shot at disciplinary hearing

In the Matter of the Disciplinary Proceeding Against Sanai

Sanai, an Oregon attorney, wanted to help his mother with her divorce. He was admitted to Washington. During the course of the litigation, which was termed "extremely acrimonious" by the court, the WSBA filed eight counts of misconduct related to pleadings in the litigation.

The kicker came when Sanai requested a continuance due to health issues, along with a note from his doctor. The hearing officer refused, stating that he could not read the note. Sanai returned with a signed statement from his doctor stating that he had severe hypertension, and beginning the trial before blood pressure medication took affect would be very dangerous. Sanai also testified via phone that his bloodpressure was high, and that he couldn't remember what the exact pressure was on which date, but gave two readings he remembered.

This is where it gets weird. The hearing examiner wanted nothing to do with the medical continuance:

frankly does [sic] not have the ring of truth, in my judgment. There is no indication in that letter as to what the blood pressure is; and as I understand it, and as Mr. Sanai has indicated, the major symptom of hypertension is high blood pressure. I find it inconceivable that Mr. Sanai would not remember the blood pressure that was taken twice from him on Friday, April 13th in order to be able to testify as to what that is here today.

The court also went on to note the examiner's questioning of the doctor's declaration:

He went on to note that the doctor's letter was not on letterhead and carried a "rather strange certification" when it said, "'I declare under penalty of perjury.'" Id. ("That's not a certification that I'm familiar with and certainly different from the one that is normally used in the state of Washington.").

Just to be clear here, this is the certification that I use on all of my declarations:

I declare under penalty of perjury under the laws of the State of Washington that the foregoing is true and correct.

I'm having a little trouble distinguishing how the two are all that different. The hearing examiner also called into question the lack of letterhead of the doctor. Again, most of my declarations, regardless of the declarant, are submitted on plain ol' bond paper.

As you can guess, the hearing examiner denied the continuance and proceeded without Sanai. The denial of a continuance is abuse of discretion. The court could in this case essentially review the same evidence de novo, the note, the declaration, and the telephone conversation.

Because the credibility assessment involves documents and a witness testifying by telephone, the hearing officer is not necessarily in a "better position to judge their veracity."

     While a hearing officer's discretionary decisions are entitled to great weight, this must be weighed against the right of a lawyer to be present to defend. In this case, [Sanai] provided a doctor's note and detailed testimony as to his medical condition. Because "[a]ttorney disciplinary hearings must meet the requirements of due process," we hold that the hearing officer abused his discretion by refusing to grant [Sanai] a continuance based on his medical condition so that he could attend and participate in the proceedings. In re Discipline of Meade, 103 Wn.2d 374, 381, 693 P.2d 713 (1985) (citing In re Ruffalo, 390 U.S. 544, 550, 88 S. Ct. 1222, 20 L. Ed. 2d 117 (1968); Metzenbaum, 22 Wn.2d at 79).

Remanded for a hearing with Sanai present. Unfortunately for Sanai, his attempt to subpoena judges as to the merits of his claims is out. Also out are several improper requests for admissions, which called for legal conclusions.

The dissent goes more into the merits of the underlying hearing, effectively saying: Sanai, you had your chance. If you're looking to see the outcome of the hearing, my guess is this dissent will be cut and paste into the adoption of the hearing examiners findings and conclusions.

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