By Nathalie Hardy • Columnist • 

Sanai disbarment case aired in Olympia

Cyrus Sanai told the nine justices, who were within one vote of a disbarment order earlier, that his brother’s constitutional rights had been violated during the Washington State Bar’s years-long series of disciplinary proceedings. He hoped that might dissuade them from an action that could also cost Rick Sanai his license to practice law in Oregon, and thus his job with Yamhill County.

The crux of Cyrus’s argument was that Rick should have been accorded the right to cross-examine judges whose decisions had led to a characterization of his voluminous filings in his mother’s divorce and property division case as “frivolous and vexatious.”

Linda Briggs Eide, arguing on behalf of the Washington State Bar, said even if Cyrus Sanai’s arguments were valid, it would not excuse the fact that Rick Sanai’s actions related to his parents divorce cases created “a tremendous burden on the courts.”

She argued the court should affirm the bar’s disbarment recommendation. She noted the hearings officer had termed this “the worst case of continuing lawyer misconduct, short of felonious activity, that I have witnessed in my 36 years as a member of the Washington State Bar.”

There is no set deadline for the rendering of a decision, but it typically takes three to six months, and has been known to take a year or more.

Rick Sanai also has an open investigation with the Oregon State Bar over his alleged failure to notify it of the disbarment proceedings he is facing in Washington. He said he provided notice when those proceedings began in 2004, but the bar said it has no record of any such notice, or any notice in the nine years since.

In addition to considering discipline in the disclosure case, the bar will consider whether reciprocal discipline is appropriate if Sanai is disbarred in Washington, according to spokeswoman Kateri Walsh.

Since 2003, the Oregon State Bar has opened 12 cases based on discipline imposed in Washington, she said.

She said it had imposed discipline of its own in eight of those cases. She said two had been dismissed and the other two were pending.

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