Former U.S. attorney general Richard G. Kleindienst was suspended today from the practice of law in the state for one year.
The Arizona Supreme Court found Kleindienst, who was attorney general under Richard M. Nixon, guilty of two counts of unethical conduct resulting from his legal representation in a 1976 insurance company fraud.
State bar association officials had recommended his suspension because of allegedly deliberate misstatements he made to one of their investigators. They involved whether he knew about possible encumbrances placed on a down payment by an insurance company for purchase of another insurance company.
The decision was unanimous, although Justice Stanley G. Feldman said he felt that suspension was insufficient and that Kleindienst should have been disbarred.
Kleindienst was acquitted of similar charges by a Maricopa County Superior Court jury last fall.
"The best support Kleindienst can muster for his defense is that the jury that considered the criminal charges arising from the same alleged perjury acquitted him," the Supreme Court said.
The opinion, written by Vice Chief Justice Frank X. Gordon Jr., said guilt must be proved in a criminal trial beyond a reasonable doubt but proof of misconduct in a disciplinary proceeding "need only be clear and convincing."