Biden's son faces no bar review after discharge

AP News
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Posted: Oct 17, 2014 3:33 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) — Hunter Biden, the youngest son of Vice President Joe Biden, faces no automatic review of his law license in Connecticut following his discharge from the U.S. Navy Reserve after testing positive for cocaine use, Connecticut legal authorities said Friday.

Hunter Biden works in Washington as a private equity executive and board director of an international energy firm, but he is admitted to practice law in Connecticut, where attorneys' privileges can be examined under a disciplinary review system. Legal clients, state lawyers, judges and any citizen can file grievances, but as of Friday, none had been filed, authorities said.

Lawyers in Connecticut face automatic review of their bar admission only when they have been convicted of a crime, said Michael P. Bowler, Connecticut's Statewide Bar Counselor, who heads a team of lawyers that investigate attorney grievances. Criminal convictions have to be reviewed by a statewide grievance committee, as do other complaints, which can range from drug and alcohol abuse to inadequate legal representation.

"At this point, I'm not aware that Mr. Biden has been arrested for anything, and certainly not convicted," Bowler said. The Navy's brief confirmation of Biden's discharge did not cite any arrest or charges. Two people familiar with the matter told The Associated Press he was kicked out after testing positive for cocaine, confirming what was first reported by The Wall Street Journal.

Bowler added that Biden had told state authorities in 2007 that he was also admitted to the bar in Washington, D.C. Current District of Columbia bar records do not show Biden as member.

The Navy said Thursday that Biden was discharged in February from a part-time position as a public affairs officer in the Navy Reserve but did not provide a reason. Biden released a statement through his attorney saying, "I deeply regret and am embarrassed that my actions led to my administrative discharge."

Biden, 44, a former Washington lobbyist, is a managing partner at the Rosemont Seneca Partners investment firm and a director at Burisma Holdings, a Ukraine-based energy company. A Washington lobbyist for Burisma, David Leiter, did not respond to requests for comment from The Associated Press.

Mark Dubois, the president of the Connecticut Bar Association, said that state bar and ethics officials are sensitive to news accounts involving misbehavior of lawyers admitted to practice in the state, but he said, "They have to be judicious about starting the process."

Dubois, who formerly investigated and prosecuted ethical misconduct as Connecticut Disciplinary Counsel, said authorities have initiated cases in the past involving drug and alcohol abuse by attorneys, but "only when it's a fairly extensive record of abuse."