Wednesday, February 3, 2010
Another recently-filed complaint by the North Carolina State Bar alleges misconduct by an attorney who had employed her twice-disbarred father in her law office. The father was disbarred following his conviction for embezzlement of client funds, reinstated, and disbarred again after a federal conviction for wire fraud and conspiracy to engage in money laundering. He went to work for the daughter both while on work release and after his full release from federal custody.
The charges allege that the father agreed to represent two plaintiffs in a contract dispute for an $1,250.00 fee. The check was made payable to him and he cashed it. The fee was not deposited in the attorney's law firm or personal accounts.
The attorney then filed the suit but neglected to perfect service. The court case file was closed as a result. The Bar alleges other defects in the complaint as well. After one of the clients complained to the Bar, the attorney refiled the case and obtained a default judgment against one defendant. The attorney was allowed to withdraw and the complaint was dismissed as to the other defendant for failure to state a claim.
The Bar charges that the attorney assisted her father's unauthorized practice, failed to make it clear to the clients that the father was disbarred and unable to represent them and shared fees with a non-lawyer, as well as a lack of diligence, competence and communication in the matter. (Mike Frisch)