STATEWIDE GRIEVANCE COMMITTEE v. JOSEPH P. GANIM, SC 19192
Judicial District of Fairfield
Attorneys; Whether the Trial Court Properly Denied the Defendant’s Application for Reinstatement to the Bar. The defendant was admitted to the state bar in 1983 and engaged in the private practice of law until 1991, when he was elected mayor of the city of Bridgeport. In 2003, the defendant was convicted in federal court of sixteen felony counts, including counts alleging bribery, racketeering and extortion, for conduct occurring in the course of his duties as mayor. As a result of the convictions, the defendant’s license to practice law was suspended and he served seven years in prison followed by three years of supervised release. In 2010, the trial court entered a stipulated order that the defendant could apply for reinstatement to the bar, provided that he satisfied certain obligations, including monetary restitution, compliance with the conditions of his supervised release, community service and continuing legal education. The defendant applied for reinstatement in 2011. Following a hearing, the standing committee on recommendations for admission to the bar unanimously recommended reinstatement. The committee’s report was submitted to a three judge panel of the Superior Court, which denied the defendant reinstatement, finding that the evidence did not establish that the defendant was of good moral character and presently fit to act as an officer of the court and to exercise the privileges and functions of an attorney. The panel found that the fact that the defendant had satisfied the conditions set for applying for readmission had little bearing on whether he possesses the necessary indicia of honesty, truthfulness and fiduciary responsibility necessary to support a finding that he is presently fit to practice law. The panel also noted that the record was virtually devoid of any evidence that the defendant felt remorse for his criminal conduct or that he accepted responsibility for it, which it found were necessary components of rehabilitation and a present fitness to practice law. The panel also found error in the committee’s finding that all of the evidence showed that the defendant was presently fit to practice law. The panel noted, among other things, that the defendant gave false testimony at his federal trial and that he failed to report his conviction to the statewide bar counsel as required by the rules of practice. In sum, the panel found that the evidence in the record was clearly inadequate to rebut the reasonable inferences to be drawn from what it deemed extraordinarily serious misconduct that spanned five years and that occurred while the defendant was in a position of public trust. The defendant challenges the panel’s decision in this appeal to the Supreme Court.