On Wednesday, September 13, 2023, the Supreme Court of Hawaii issued an order suspending attorney John Matthew Schum. The suspension takes into account prior discipline Schum faced in California for impersonating a certain individual and using the latter’s personal information and identity to cancel that person’s bank account.

The case is entitled ‘Office of Disciplinary Counsel vs. John Matthew Schum,’ case no. SCAD-23-0000254.

The charges against Schum cite violations of Rules 2.15(c)(3) and other relevant provisions of the Rules of the Supreme Court of the State of Hawai’i (RSCH).

According to the court’s order, Schum was suspended for violating Rule 2.15 of the Rules of the Supreme Court of the State of Hawaii (RSCH). Specifically, he failed to demonstrate that the reasons for his California discipline no longer exist, as required by RSCH Rule 2.15(c)(3).

The court’s decision was informed by a comprehensive examination of the exhibits appended to Schum’s reply, the response filed by Petitioner Chloe Fasi, Deputy Disciplinary Counsel at the Office of Disciplinary Counsel on June 19, 2023, and the sur-reply from Respondent Schum dated July 23, 2023, along with the exhibits attached to these documents.

The disciplinary proceedings against Schum were initiated based on the nature and seriousness of the misconduct he engaged in, as per his own concession. Schum admitted that his actions were concerted, intentional, and dishonest, raising concerns about his fitness to practice law and his adherence to the legal standards expected of attorneys.

During the course of these proceedings, it was noted that certain documents, including Respondent Schum’s May 23, 2023 reply and his July 23, 2023 sur-reply, along with their accompanying exhibits, were filed under seal. It is essential to highlight that RSCH Rule 2.22(f) generally stipulates that documents submitted in disciplinary proceedings should be public unless there is a specific statutory or court rule justification for sealing them.

On a separate note, Petitioner Chloe Fasi filed an item at Docket 20 under seal, which was determined to qualify as an ODC (Office of Disciplinary Counsel) file rendered confidential by RSCH Rule 2.22(a). It was further established that no exception pursuant to RSCH Rule 2.22(a)(1) through (8) rendered it public. Importantly, the court clarified that in arriving at its disciplinary decision, it did not consider these sealed documents.

Based on the foregoing facts and discussion, the Court determined to impose disciplinary measures including a one-year suspension, held in abeyance during a one-year probationary period, and a 60-day actual suspension, effective 30 days from the order’s entry date. Schum, must comply with duties imposed on suspended attorneys, provide regular probationary reports, and cover approved disciplinary costs.

Schum was warned that violating probationary conditions may lead to a one-year suspension from practice. He was also ordered to file public versions of specific documents, with potential redactions.

Mr. Schum’s Justia profile indicates that he is the owner of the law Office of John Schum serving Honolulu, Hawaii. He attended California Western School of Law graduating in 1992. Schum has been admitted to practice in California and Hawaii.

A copy of the original filing can be found here.