It’s not often that a court disqualifies one of the lawyers who appears before it. That’s what makes the Seventh Circuit’s recent decision in Doe v. Nielsen, No. 17-2040 (7th Cir. Feb. 26, 2018), one for the history books. The decision, written by Judge Diane Sykes, took the “drastic measure” of disqualifying counsel who appeared for a plaintiff seeking lawful-permanent residence under the EB-5 program—a visa program that allows immigrant investors to apply for a green card if they can prove that they have invested a minimum amount in a “new commercial enterprise.”
The court’s power to disqualify a lawyer of a client’s choosing, the Seventh Circuit explained, stems from its duty to “maintain public confidence in the legal profession and assist in protecting the integrity of the judicial proceeding.” Slip op. 3. The facts of this case, as the court put it, “force[d its] hand.” Id.