January 22, 2013
Broken Pledge Draws Suspension
The West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals has rejected the Lawyer Disciplinary Board's proposed reprimand of a public defender who had failed to communicate with a client and to respond to the ensuing bar complaint.
The court noted that the attorney had been admonished five times for similar misconduct.
On the fifth time, he "pledged to the [Office of Disciplinary Counsel], and to the Board, that he would be more diligent in representing his clients" but
...the record shows that at the same time he was making this pledge, the Respondent was ignoring repeated requests from [this client and his family to take the action necessary to correct a facially inaccurate sentencing order...there is no evidence that a sixth admonishment, even in the heightened form of a public reprimand, would appropriately sanction the respondent attorney, or that it would serve as an effective deterrant to other members of the Bar or maintain public confidence in the ethical standards of the legal profession. We do not believe that supervised probation alone will be sufficient to protect the public's interest.
The court imposed a 30 day suspension with supervision for two years on reinstatement. (Mike Frisch)
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