FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, May 10, 2012
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District Man Found Guilty of Contempt of Court
For Unauthorized Practice of Law
- Defendant Continued Practicing Despite 1988 Court Order -
WASHINGTON - Benoit Brookens, 62, of Washington, D.C., was found guilty today of four counts of misdemeanor contempt of court for engaging in the unauthorized practice of law, U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. announced.
The Honorable Jóse M. López, who presided over a trial in the case last year, issued his decision today. Brookens, who is scheduled for sentencing on June 22, 2012, faces up to two years in prison and a $4,000 fine.
In 1988, the District of Columbia Court of Appeals in Brookens v. United States, found that Brookens was not licensed to practice law in the District of Columbia, and ordered him not to do so. The Court of Appeals specifically instructed Brookens not to refer to himself using the titles of “esquire” or “counsel,” to file documents, or to represent anyone.
At the time of the order, Brookens was admitted to practice law in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, but he was not admitted to practice in the District of Columbia. For more than two decades, despite the court’s orders, and multiple subsequent admonitions from D.C. agencies, including four administrative law judges, Brookens continued to use the titles of “esquire” and “counsel,” and he represented tenants involved in a landlord/tenant case. Ultimately, a judge dismissed with prejudice the tenants’ case, partly as a result of Brookens’s refusal to comply with the court’s orders.
Judge López stated that he did not find Brookens credible on any issue in the contempt case, and that throughout the entire trial process, he found the defendant’s conduct evasive.
In announcing the verdict, U.S. Attorney Machen praised the efforts of those who worked on the case from the U.S. Marshals Service and the Metropolitan Police Department. He also thanked those who worked on the matter from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including Paralegal Specialist Kelly Blakeney, and Litigation Technology Specialists Leif Hickling, Tracy Van Atta and Kimberly Smith. He noted the assistance of U.S. Attorney’s Office Intern Ann Hodulik and Covington and Burling Paralegal Elle Metzger. He appreciated the assistance of Fon Muttamara, Deputy Counsel for the Office of Administrative Hearings, Tanya Brinkley, Deputy Clerk of Office of Administrative Hearings, and the D.C. Court of Appeals Committee of Unauthorized Practice of Law Administrator, Christopher Dix. Finally, U.S. Attorney Machen thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Chrisellen R. Kolb and David B. Goodhand for providing appellate advice. He also thanked Theodore Metzler, Esq., a member of the D.C. Court of Appeals Committee on Unauthorized Practice of Law and an Associate of Covington and Burling, for assisting with the prosecution. Finally, he commended Assistant U.S. Attorney Cynthia G. Wright, who is Chair of the D.C. Court of Appeals, Committee on Unauthorized Practice of Law, and who prosecuted the case.