Thursday, August 22, 2013
A "well respected" longtime member of the bar has been suspended for seven months by the District of Columbia Court of Appeals.
The court agreed with the Board on Professional Responsibility that the attorney engaged in negligent misappropriation after an overdraft notice on his escrow account.
Prior to that time, he reasonably relied on another attorney (his now former son-in-law) to oversee the account.
Given the importance placed upon the scrupulous care of client funds, the overdraft was a serious wake-up signal to the sole individual with the ultimate responsibility for the trust account and a situation that mandated his personal continuing attention.
The court upheld the board's conclusions:
Here, we must agree with the unanimous judgment of repondent's peers on the Board, themselves well versed in the rough and tumble of law practice, that once the alarm bell of an overdraft rang, the matter was too important to be left to a subordinate without at least diligent follow-up of any investigation by the subordinate into the apparent flaw. Regrettably, a conclusion of negligent misappropriation and a violation of Rule 5.1(a) necessarily follow.
The court also adopted the board's recommended sanction. (Mike Frisch)