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To the editor: Lawyer discipline in the District took a giant step backward two weeks ago with the blackballing of one of the few independent voices for consumer rights on the Board on Professional Responsibility ( “Bounced From the Board,” May 15, 2006, Page 1). As Legal Times reports, Board Chair Martin Baach excluded the name of longtime clients’ rights advocate Lee Helfrich from those recommended for reappointment to a second term. It appears that Helfrich stepped on the wrong toes in her thoughtful dissents urging meaningful sanctions in cases of serious misconduct — views at odds with Baach’s inclination to minimize attorney responsibility and his preference for token penalties. Yet despite his well-documented history of clashing with Helfrich, Baach arrogantly dismisses questions about their differences as “poppycock” and refuses to explain his actions in this “personnel” matter. To the contrary, Baach is not firing an associate at his law firm; he is removing a member of the body that exercises vital police functions to protect the public. Helfrich is a highly regarded public servant who is being ousted without explanation in a process that is the antithesis of transparency. The public deserves answers about apparent retaliation, not “poppycock.” Significantly, line attorneys at the bar counsel’s office strongly support Helfrich’s reappointment, but Legal Times was told they are not allowed to comment publicly. Other attorneys who have raised concerns about Baach’s conduct and this arbitrary appointment process have been ignored by a Board of Governors that simply rubber-stamped Baach’s decision. Does the D.C. Court of Appeals really want the Board on Professional Responsibility to be selected by a handful of bar insiders through a process that ignores public concern? The court needs to review Baach’s conduct in the nomination of board members, establish an open and transparent appointment process, and retain a dedicated public servant whose record fully supports reappointment, not isolation and expulsion. James C. Turner Executive Director Suzanne M. Blonder Associate Counsel HALT Washington, D.C.

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