Monday, December 7, 2009
The Delaware Supreme Court has imposed a public reprimand and probation for two years in a matter that came to the attention of the Bar as a result of an audit by the Lawyers' Fund for Client Protection. The attorney was admitted in 1967 and had retired from an inhouse counsel position with Dupont in 1990. He then opened a solo ERISA practice working 25 hours a week with 5-6 clients at a time. He had no support staff.
A disciplinary panel found that he had violated record keeping and trust account balance obligations:
...Respondent was consiously aware of his obligations to properly manage a law office and accurately report to the Court in his annual Certificate of Compliance [with trust accounting obligations], and yet he took a "head in the sand" approach to these obligations without any particular objective or purpose to accomplish a particular result other than to provide services to his clients. While the Panel finds that his objective of serving clients is clearly proper, [his] execution of his obligations to the Court was woefully lacking.
The panel further found a "sustained and systematic disregard" of the proper operation of a law office. (Mike Frisch)
Sunday, December 6, 2009
An attorney had a "longtime friend and client" who was arrested on a charges of possession of cocaine. The friend set up the attorney in exchange for leniency by advising police that he could obtain marijuana from him. The attorney gave the friend a small bag of marijuana. The attorney was then arrested and handcuffed outside of his home. A search of the interior revealed 7 1/2 ounces and materials associated with distribution, a small amount of cocaine and other substances. The attorney tested positive only for marijuana.
The attorney self-reported the arrest and was placed on interim suspension. The interim suspension later was dissolved when the attorney entered into a five-year contract with the Bar's Lawyer Assistance Program. The criminal charges were dropped as the evidence from the search was suppressed. Disciplinary proceedings ensued, in which claims of entrapment and evidence suppression were rejected as possible defenses to the charges.
The Louisiana Supreme Court imposed a suspension of two years with credit for time served on the interim suspension. The attorney acknowledged marijuana use from 1994 to 2007 (the attorney suffers from glaucoma) and, as noted, has participated in the bar's recovery program. (Mike Frisch)