By Nathalie Hardy • Columnist • 

Sanai to fight reciprocal discipline

In a lengthy letter mailed to the bar earlier this month, he said he objects to any Oregon discipline, on grounds his constitutional right to due process was violated during a year’s lengthy set of Washington proceedings culminating in Washington Supreme Court action. He said he has retained Portland attorney Michael Colbach to represent him, in anticipation of a recommendation for reciprocal discipline from the Oregon Bar’s Professional Responsibility Board.

Sanai was disbarred in Washington after the Washington Supreme Court upheld the Washington State Bar Association on all nine counts of a disciplinary finding alleging “blatant misconduct.” The allegations stemmed from a mountain of litigation he and his brother filed on behalf of their mother in an extremely hostile divorce proceeding.

The Oregon State Bar recently informed Sanai of its intent to consider disciplinary action in response to the action taken by its Washington counterpart. It advised him he had until July 3 to submit any information he wished Oregon’s Professional Responsibility Board to consider. 

In addition to Sanai’s response, the bar said it had received two letters of support from colleagues.

“My experiences with Rick in his professional capacity were entirely positive and exemplified absolute civility, professionalism and decorum,” wrote Charles Harrell of Buckley Law P.C. “Rick is an excellent lawyer. Rick is an excellent representative of the Oregon Bar. Rick is held in the highest esteem by his peers and colleagues.”

Attorney Paul Hribernick of Black Helterline LLP responded similarly, saying, “I find it difficult to square the behavior alleged by the Washington State Bar when compared with my years of interaction with Rick. The bar should absolutely consider the very special facts and events related to Rick’s actions in the state of Washington and how long ago those actions were.”

Sanai concluded 14 years with the county last month, the last three as chief counsel. He was replaced in that capacity by his deputy, Christian Boenisch, who joined the staff in November 2010.  

Boenisch is in the process of developing criteria in preparation for the recruiting of a new deputy counsel.

In the meantime, he has been authorized to contract with Sanai for help, particularly in land use law, which was a specialty. The authorization is for up to 20 hours a week at $120 an hour.

So far, Boenisch has tapped very few of those hours, according to the county’s administrative staff.

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