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Both chambers of the Connecticut General Assembly quickly passed an emergency bill March 10 that expressly authorizes out-of-state lawyers to work for the legislature and the governor on impeachment matters. The bill passed 141-0 in the House of Representatives and 35-0 in the Senate, and supplements two pro hac vice orders issued to temporarily allow a total of five lawyers not admitted in Connecticut to take part in the increasingly legally complex battle before the House Select Committee of Inquiry. The panel is overseeing the impeachment investigation of Gov. John G. Rowland. The legislative remedy, however, only raises a new, even more perplexing debate: By taking action, did lawmakers violate the constitutional separation of powers? New Haven criminal defense lawyer Hugh F. Keefe, who represents former Rowland aid Peter Ellef in the ongoing federal corruption probe of the Rowland administration, says it did. It was Keefe who helped prompt last week’s emergency legislation, after attacking the validity of a legislative subpoena in Hartford Superior Court on grounds that it was partly based on work performed by Steven Reich. On Jan. 26, Hartford Superior Court Judge John J. Langenbach granted Reich, a New York lawyer for Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, permission to do legal work for the committee. A week later, Judge Marshall K. Berger Jr. signed a similar pro hac vice order for Rowland’s personal impeachment lawyer, Seth P. Waxman, and three other out-of-state lawyers at Waxman’s prestigious Washington, D.C., law firm, Wilmer Cutler Pickering. Keefe, of Lynch, Traub, Keefe and Errante, maintained that any work by Reich for the committee amounted to the unauthorized practice of law. He said he appealed Langenbach’s pro hac vice order for Reich on grounds that court rules don’t permit a temporary license for out-of-court practice. The legislature’s amendment to the UPL statute is an ineffective solution, he argued last week, because it is up to the Judicial Branch to determine who may practice law in Connecticut, not the legislature. Langenbach had referred to his action as a “hybrid” pro hac vice admission. Under a strict reading of the Practice Book rule for such an admission, � 2-16, an unadmitted lawyer may participate “to such extent as the court may prescribe in the presentation of a cause or appeal in any court” in Connecticut. It doesn’t mention anything about appearing before the legislature. Although some states have rules that allow pro hac vice admission for proceedings before executive branch agencies, or allow other forms of temporary admission to practice, Connecticut’s rule is narrowly directed at court cases. “Where feasible,” it states, “the application shall be made to the judge before whom such cause is likely to be tried.” State Rep. John Wayne Fox, D-Stamford, is a co-chair of the committee of inquiry. He said he does not believe the emergency bill, which modifies the state’s unauthorized practice of law statute (C.G.S. � 51-88), violates the constitutional separation of powers. The legislation is retroactive to Jan. 26, when the Reich’s pro hac vice motion was granted. Both Reich’s and Waxman’s pro hac vice motions specifically cited case law which states that it is up to the Judicial Branch to determine who can practice law in Connecticut. But Fox said he expects the new bill to remove Reich’s out-of-state status as an issue as the committee gathers information through subpoenas. Carl M. Porto Sr., who heads the Connecticut Bar Association Committee on the Unauthorized Practice of Law, said that the pro hac vice rule only references court appearances before judges. Porto, a name partner at Hamden’s Parrett, Porto, Parese & Colwell, said he believes the orders were an attempt to show respect to the Judicial Branch and relieve any separation-of-powers tensions. Connecticut Chief Disciplinary Counsel Mark A. Dubois is specifically charged with handling unauthorized practice of law issues. He said past prosecutions of UPL violations have centered on nonlawyers inside and outside of Connecticut, not lawyers admitted in other jurisdictions. The state UPL statute carries misdemeanor criminal penalties and can be enforced under a judge’s contempt of court powers. Lawyers for other subpoenaed individuals, some of whom have been questioned in the ongoing federal criminal corruption probe, have also raised Reich’s legal status as an issue.

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