Westmoreland native, former congressman Bailey banned from law for 5 years

Paul Peirce
| Friday, Oct. 4, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

The state Supreme Court has ordered Greensburg native Don Bailey, a former Pennsylvania auditor general and U.S. congressman, to surrender his law license for five years.

The court on Wednesday ordered the suspension that was recommended in May by its Disciplinary Board.

Bailey violated the rules of professional conduct by making false statements critical of federal judges in Pennsylvania, the court said.

Although the Supreme Court ruling came in a three-sentence order, the Disciplinary Board's 19-page recommendation attached to the order sharply criticized Bailey, who lives in Susquehanna Township, Dauphin County.

“(Bailey) fails to accept adverse judicial decisions by an objective review of the facts or the law. He simply concludes that such decisions are a result of a conspiracy against him or his clients,” the disciplinary board said.

“(Bailey) has not expressed regret or remorse for any statements that he made,” the board noted.

In a separate 2009 case, Bailey, who practiced in Harrisburg, was ordered to pay nearly $50,000 in fees and costs for making unfounded claims of judicial misconduct.

Bailey, 68, served as auditor general from 1985 to 1989. He served as congressman from 1979 until 1983, representing a Western Pennsylvania district eliminated in redistricting.

Bailey could not be reached for comment.

The Disciplinary Board filed a petition to discipline him in January 2011, saying Bailey falsely accused several federal judges of conspiring to ruin his legal career.

Under the Rules of Professional Conduct, an attorney cannot raise an issue that has no basis in fact or the law and cannot criticize the qualifications or integrity of a judge by making knowingly false and reckless comments.

Bailey claimed six federal judges conspired to dismiss lawsuits Bailey filed on behalf of clients because of unknown political motives, according to the Disciplinary Board.

Bailey was required to pay more than $47,000 in legal fees, sanctions and fines for filing an appeal in one lawsuit that was determined to be frivolous. The sanctions were imposed by two federal judges impugned by Bailey.

The board said Bailey tried to derail the disciplinary investigation into his professional misconduct by seeking an injunction against Paul Killion, chief disciplinary counsel for the Disciplinary Board, in a motion filed in U.S. District Court in Pittsburgh. That case was dismissed.

In 2007, a federal magistrate recommended that Bailey be sanctioned for misconduct, writing he “has sadly slouched into a parody of the man he once was.”

Bailey. a graduate of Greensburg Salem High School, was a football star at the University of Michigan.

The Vietnam War veteran served as an officer with the 101st Air Mobile Division, earning a Silver Star for gallantry and three Bronze Stars. He received his law degree from Duquesne University.

His political career began in Westmoreland County in 1979 when he was elected to Congress. After two terms, redistricting pitted him in 1982 against the late John Murtha of Johnstown, who won the Democrat nomination in the primary against Bailey.

Bailey was elected auditor general in 1988 but was defeated for re-election by Barbara Hafer. Bailey began practicing law in Harrisburg, billing himself as a civil rights attorney. He ran against Arlen Specter for the U.S. Senate in 1986 and campaigned for governor in 1998.

Paul Peirce is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-850-2860 or ppeirce@tribweb.com.

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