May 2, 2008
"Not Simple Niceties"
The Michigan Attorney Discipline Board affirmed a hearing panel's order of a 180 day suspension and restitution in a matter arising out of the lawyer's representation of a client "in various actions including parental kidnapping charges, divorce, probation violations, and tort actions." The lawyer had failed to communicate the basis and rate of his fee, collected an excessive fee, failed to maintain complete records and committed other escrow violations. The board found the attorney's brief on appeal was not particularly helpful-- "many of the arguments are less than cogent and are waived or abandoned on review...And some of the arguments are general, repetitive and factually inaccurate." Further,
"It is evident from Respondent's briefs that he feels persecuted, betrayed by his client, and victimized in general...We do not wish to minimize the difficulties that respondent has suffered, but we must point out that they do not excuse or mitigate the misconduct here. [The client] did not come to respondent to help him restore his reputation. Her case was not about him. She came with specific legal problems that needed handling, and, as the panel pointed out, she may have needed counseling from an objective and appropriately detached, yet diligent, lawyer. We cannot stress enough that the duties neglected by respondent here were not simple niceties or mere business practices, but were critical to the representation. "
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