By Carol D. Leonnig
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, March 21, 2008
Vice President Cheney's former chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, was barred yesterday from practicing law in the District of Columbia because of his convictions last year for perjury and obstructing justice in a White House leak investigation.
Under the ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, Libby will lose his license to practice or appear in court in Washington until at least 2012. As is standard, he will probably lose any bar membership he holds in other states.
"This was expected," said Libby attorney William H. Jeffress Jr. "The rules require that he be disbarred for a period of time."
Libby was convicted of lying to the FBI and other federal investigators about whether he discussed the identity of covert CIA operative Valerie Plame with reporters in the spring and summer of 2003.
At the time, the Bush administration was keen to undermine allegations made by Plame's husband that it had twisted intelligence to justify going to war with Iraq. Libby and others in the administration linked Plame in conversations with reporters to a fact-finding trip her husband took to the Middle East for the CIA.
A three-member panel of the Court of Appeals decided that the D.C. Code gave it no choice on the decision. Libby did not dispute the Bar Counsel's recommendation that he be disbarred.
"When a member of the Bar is convicted of an offense involving moral turpitude, disbarment is mandatory," the judges wrote. "This court has held that obstruction of justice and perjury are crimes of moral turpitude per se."
Libby's disbarment is effective as of June 12, 2007, when he filed a declaration saying he would voluntarily comply with the court's rules on professional ethics for lawyers. Libby, 57, could seek reinstatement to the bar five years from that date, in June 2012.
Last July, a federal judge sentenced Libby to 30 months in jail. President Bush commuted the sentence, calling it "excessive." But Libby paid a $250,000 fine imposed by the judge.