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Wow. Former Doctor, Wannabe Lawyer Gets Slammed!

Please remember as you read this that this guy wants to be a lawyer, and was rejected by the New Mexico Board of Bar Examiners. He appealed to the New Mexico Supreme Court. Here are a few excerpts from the opinion:

Petitioner Elliot Oppenheim (“Oppenheim”) petitions this Court to review the State Board of Bar Examiner’s (“the Board”) denial of his application for admission to the New Mexico Bar (“the Bar”). The Board found that Oppenheim failed to carry his burden of establishing that he was a person of good moral character. See Rule 15-103(C) NMRA. In his petition, Oppenheim challenges the findings of the Board and the adequacy of the administrative procedures used by the Board in conducting its investigation and hearings.

I know, blah, blah, blah. Read on.

Oppenheim was born in New York in 1947, and received a medical degree from the University of California at Irvine in 1973. He was licensed to practice medicine in the States of California and Washington beginning in 1974. Beginning in 1978, Oppenheim used his medical license to procure cocaine for his own use and for distribution to another. Oppenheim was convicted in 1980 of two felony counts: one of acquiring a controlled substance (cocaine) by misrepresentation, fraud, and deception in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 843(a)(3), and one of distribution of a controlled substance, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1). Footnote He received a three-year suspended sentence, was placed on probation for three years, and was ordered to undergo psychiatric treatment and to perform 600 hours of community service. He successfully completed his sentence in 1982.

Okay. Did the crime, did the time. In 1981, Washington reinstated his medical license. A decade goes by, and then, snap!

In May of 1991, the Medical Disciplinary Board summarily suspended Oppenheim’s medical license based on charges that (a) he had not appropriately treated a patient with emotional and mental problems, resulting in her hospitalization; and (b) he had incorrectly intubated an unconscious patient, shortly after which the patient died.

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1991 was not a good year for this fellow.

In December 1991, the Medical Disciplinary Board charged Oppenheim with numerous acts of dishonesty in connection with his testimony as an expert witness in courts throughout the country, including New Mexico. Oppenheim was charged with affirmatively misrepresenting and failing to disclose adverse facts affecting his credibility as a witness, including his criminal convictions and license revocations. Oppenheim’s lack of candor in these cases resulted in dismissal of several suits at or on the eve of trial. One court informed him that it would refer his testimony to the disciplinary board, the Washington attorney general’s office, and the district attorney for investigation of allegations of perjury, fraud, and violation of the Consumer Protection Act.

When he failed to appear at his disciplinary hearing, the Medical Disciplinary Board concluded that

Oppenheim had committed multiple acts of (a) moral turpitude, dishonesty, or corruption relating to the practice of his profession; (b) misrepresentation or fraud in the conduct of his profession; (c) failure to comply with a disciplinary order or assurance of discontinuance; and (d) other aggravating factors. On the basis of these findings and conclusions, the Medical Disciplinary Board revoked Oppenheim’s Washington medical license, barred him from applying for reinstatement for at least 20 years, imposed a $43,000 fine, and ordered him to make restitution to the lawyers and litigants he had harmed.

So he owes this money that he and the Medical Board agree will be paid in installments, with the condition that, if he declares bankruptcy, the entire amount becomes due. So what does he do? He files for bankruptcy! The debt survives and, per the court, “Oppenheim has not paid the debt and no longer feels any obligation to pay it.”

Well, the whole doctor thing didn’t work out too well. How about law school? So Mr. Oppenheim graduated from law school, and even got his masters in health law. He sought to become a lawyer in Washington and New Mexico, and was rejected in both states. The above is just a small portion of the court’s opinion. As you may have guessed by now, the New Mexico Supreme Court agreed with the State Board of Bar Examiners, concluding that Oppenheim “has not carried his burden of demonstrating fitness for admission to the Bar.”

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