The state Supreme Court has issued a one-year suspension to a Pennsylvania attorney who agreed to represent a female client in a DUI case in exchange for oral sex.
In a one-page July order, the justices, adopting the recommendation of a three-member panel of the Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court, granted a joint petition in support of discipline on consent in which Bucks County attorney David H. Knight admitted to trading legal work for sexual favors and asked for a one-year suspension.
On April 11, Disciplinary Board members Douglas W. Leonard, Howell K. Rosenberg and Stewart L. Cohen recommended that the high court grant the 10-page joint petition, issued March 13 and penned by Chief Disciplinary Counsel Paul J. Killion.
According to the petition, there are no other documented cases in Pennsylvania involving a violation of Pennsylvania Rule of Professional Conduct provision 1.8(j), which became effective Jan. 1, 2005, and prohibits sexual relations between a lawyer and a client regardless of whether it's consensual and whether it prejudices the client.
According to the petition, "Jane Doe" was arrested for driving under the influence in November 2010. In February 2011, Doe met with Mr. Knight, an attorney with Doylestown, Pa.-based criminal defense firm Fioravanti & Knight, at his offices in Levittown, Pa., the petition said. They had never met before.
During the meeting, Doe told Mr. Knight that she had received an Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition for a previous DUI and Mr. Knight quoted her a fee of $1,000 to assist her in entering a plea agreement, according to the petition.
Doe told Mr. Knight she did not have much money and eventually agreed to perform oral sex on him, which she did after Mr. Knight locked his office door, the petition said. According to the petition, Mr. Knight never billed Doe nor collected any payment for his legal services.
The petition said that while there are no prior reported cases dealing with consensual sexual relations between a lawyer and a client in Pennsylvania, the Ohio Supreme Court has addressed the issue on at least two occasions.