THEARD V. UNITED STATES, 354 U. S. 278 (1957)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Theard v. United States, 354 U.S. 278 (1957)

Theard v. United States

No. 68

Argued December 13, 1956

Decided June 17, 1957

354 U.S. 278


In a proceeding instituted in 1950, a lawyer was disbarred by a State Supreme Court in 1954 for forging a promissory note in 1935, when he concededly was suffering from a degree of insanity which resulted in his confinement in an insane asylum for several years thereafter. After release from the asylum, he had practiced law for six years without any charge of misconduct being brought against him. Solely because of his disbarment by the State Court, petitioner subsequently was disbarred by a Federal District Court under a Rule providing for such action "[w]henever . . . any member of its bar has been disbarred . . . from practice . . . in any other court."

Held: the District Court erred in considering itself conclusively bound by the state court disbarment, and the case is remanded to the District Court for disposition on the merits under its Rules, in accordance with the standards defined in Selling v. Radford, 243 U. S. 46, and in this Court's opinion in this case. Pp. 354 U. S. 279-283.

(a) While a lawyer is admitted into a federal court by way of a state court, he is not automatically sent out of the federal court by the same route. P. 354 U. S. 281.

(b) Ample opportunity must be afforded to show cause why an accused practitioner should not be disbarred, and an order of disbarment by a state court is not conclusively binding on federal courts. P. 354 U. S. 282.

(c) The "principles of right and justice" do not require a federal court to enforce automatic disbarment of a lawyer 18 years after he had uttered a forgery when concededly he was suffering from some form of insanity. P. 354 U. S. 282.

228 F.2d 617 reversed and remanded.

Page 354 U. S. 279

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