State Bar closes Stringer investigation without misconduct finding

Rep. David Stringer (Capitol Media Services 2017 file photo by Howard Fischer)
Rep. David Stringer (Capitol Media Services 2017 file photo by Howard Fischer)

The Arizona State Bar has dismissed its investigation into Rep. David Stringer.

The Bar had opened an investigation regarding his application to practice law, in which he was required to disclose any convictions to the state Supreme Court’s Committee on Character and Fitness.

The move followed a Phoenix New Times report revealed he had been charged with multiple sex offenses, including child pornography, in 1983. The Bar sought to determine whether Stringer made all appropriate disclosures of that criminal matter before he was admitted in 2004.

The District of Columbia Disciplinary Counsel in the 1980s dismissed a review of Stringer’s record following his arrest and took no action against him.

In a letter sent today to Stringer’s attorney Carmen Chenal, Bar counsel Matthew McGregor said there’s no evidence that Stringer didn’t disclose his decades old legal troubles with the Arizona State Bar when he moved here.

As part of the investigation, Stringer said he made all the appropriate disclosures about his past when he became a member in Arizona. Stringer also said during that interview that when he was arrested in 1983, he was licensed to practice law in Washington, D.C. But following the arrest the Washington, D.C. disciplinary council reviewed his case, took no action and dismissed the case in early 1984.

“At this time there does not appear to be clear and convincing evidence or that such evidence could be developed to support the allegation that Representative Stringer failed to make the required and appropriate disclosures in seeking admission to the State Bar of Arizona,” according to the letter sent to Stringer’s attorney.

Stringer told Capitol Media Services on Jan. 25 he was never convicted of a crime. Stringer acknowledged that he accepted a plea bargain in which prosecutors offered him something called “probation before judgment” on two misdemeanors.

Through the course of the Bar’s investigation, Stringer was granted a protective order that allowed a letter of dismissal from the D.C. Bar related to its investigation to be disclosed to the Arizona Bar but kept sealed from the public.

In Chenal’s request for the order, she argued the letter was in connection to a sealed investigation and contained “sensitive personal matters” that should be kept from all government agencies, public and private media, business entities, private individuals and the general public.

“Disclosure of information in the letter could be used by political opponents to impugn [Stringer’s] reputation and character, harm him politically, or influence the outcome of an election, causing irreparable harm to [Stringer], his constituents, and the governance of the State of Arizona,” Chenal wrote in her request.