In re Crandall

In re Crandall, 784 P.2d 1193 (Utah 1989), involved a recommendation for an interim suspension, based on an attorney's failure to file required probationary reports after being administratively suspended for failure to pay his bar fees. Id. at 1195. Although we ultimately refused to accept the Bar's recommendation of discipline because the Bar's interpretation of rule XX 7 essentially allowed the Bar, after placing an attorney on "administrative suspension" for failing to pay bar dues, to continue the suspension for unrelated reasons after the attorney tendered his or her delinquent fee, we never questioned the Bar's ability to administratively suspend Crandall for his initial nonpayment. Id. at 1196-97. Rather, we objected to the Bar's discipline of Crandall for claimed unprofessional behavior caused by his continued suspension after he tendered his dues. Thus, we explained that "it is inappropriate that the Bar should be able to refuse reinstatement after the delinquent fee is paid for a reason unrelated to the initial suspension." Id. at 1196. Moreover, our holding relied heavily upon the "close nexus" between the Bar's ability to continue Crandall's suspension for failure to pay his dues after dues were tendered and the subsequent complaints brought against him for failing to file probationary reports caused by the Bar's refusal. Id. at 1197. In Crandall, the Bar sent a letter to attorney Crandall stating that he had been dropped from the roll of qualified attorneys authorized to practice law for failing to pay his yearly licensing fee in accordance with rule XX of the Procedures of Discipline. Id. at 1195. Crandall claimed the nonpayment was the result of a misunderstanding with his bookkeeper regarding the time payment was due. Id. Although Crandall contacted the Bar and offered to hand-deliver his delinquent fee, he was told that he would have to submit the delinquent fee, accompanied by a written request for acceptance, to the Bar Commission's executive committee. Id. Crandall submitted his request in May; however, review of the request was deferred twice until a full meeting of the executive committee occurred near the end of August. Id. In the time between Crandall's tender of dues and the executive committee meeting in August, Crandall was required to appear before a Bar hearing panel to address his failure to submit reports for a separate matter that predated his failure to pay fees. Id. Although Crandall argued in that hearing that he had been unable to file the monthly reports due to his indefinite suspension and the Bar's refusal to reinstate him, the Bar panel nonetheless recommended Crandall be suspended retroactively for his failure to file the reports. Id. On appeal, Crandall challenged rule XX, arguing that "it allowed the Bar, after suspending an attorney for failure to pay the annual licensing fee, to continue suspension for reasons other than the failure to pay the fee after the attorney had tendered his or her delinquent fee." Id. at 1195-96. The Court agreed with Crandall and stated, "there is no logical connection between an attorney's failure to pay his or her licensing fee and claimed unfitness to practice law." Id. at 1196.