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The D.C. Court of Appeals ruled this month that a lawyer who sexually harassed a stranger on the Metro should lose his law license for 30 days because his actions violated attorney ethics rules. John Harkins, the former executive vice president and chief executive officer at the Printing & Graphics Communications Association, was convicted in 1999 of misdemeanor sexual abuse after he inappropriately touched a woman on the Orange Line. The following year, Harkins retired from practicing law and was sentenced to probation by a D.C. Superior Court judge. A D.C. Bar hearing committee found that Harkins’ misconduct merited a 30-day suspension, but the Board on Professional Responsibility disagreed, concluding that while Harkins’ behavior was “offensive and boorish,” it did not rise to the level of suspension. The D.C. Office of Bar Counsel appealed, and in a May 18 opinion, Chief Judge Eric Washington, writing for a three-judge panel, said “the integrity of the legal profession would be called into question were we to merely censure a member of this bar who repeatedly, sexually touched, on the Metro, a woman whom he did not know, and subsequently followed her around the [train] car.” D.C. Bar Counsel Wallace “Gene” Shipp Jr. declined to comment, and Harkins could not be located.
Bethany Broida can be contacted at [email protected].

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