The Appellate Group


OPC v. KINIKINI, 2023 UT 17 (Petersen, J.)

Criminal Procedure

Mr. Kinikini, a lawyer, pled guilty to felony discharge of a firearm. Upon learning of the conviction, the Office of Professional Conduct moved for immediate interim suspension. The OPC argued that interim suspension was required because the conviction of felony discharge of a firearm reflected adversely on Mr. Kinikini’s fitness to practice law, since it is a crime of violence. The district court denied the OPC’s motion concluding that the OPC was required to show that Mr. Kinikini’s actual criminal conduct reflected adversely on his fitness to practice law. The Utah Supreme Court reversed and remanded, holding:

  • Determination of whether a lawyer’s crime of conviction falls within one of the categories requiring interim suspension—in that it reflects adversely on the lawyer’s honesty, trustworthiness, or fitness to practice law—is a legal question about the nature of the crime.
  • Judicial Tip: A district court should make this determination based on the elements of the offense, not the particular factual circumstances of the respondent’s criminal conduct.

Read the full court opinion