Saturday, August 12, 2017

Hollow Gestures

The Virgin Islands Supreme Court  fined an attorney for conduct in an appeal

This matter comes before us due to the failure of Robert Leycock, Esq., court-appointed counsel to appellant Alan Nigel Archibald in the above-captioned case, to comply with numerous orders of this Court. For the reasons that follow, we find Leycock in civil contempt and refer his conduct to the Office of Disciplinary Counsel for further investigation...

Here, Leycock does not dispute that he failed to comply with the September 20, 2016, October 19, 2016, November 22, 2016, February 2, 2017, and March 8, 2017 orders, and as explained in greater detail above, all five orders were clear and unambiguous as to what was expected of him. Therefore, the only issue is whether Leycock diligently attempted to comply with those orders in a reasonable manner.

We conclude that he did not. At the June 13, 2017 show cause hearing, Leycock provided this Court with no explanation at all as to why he failed to comply with the September 20, 2016 and October 19, 2016 orders with respect to the filing of the TPO, or the February 2, 2017 and March 8, 2017 orders requiring him to file physical copies of the brief and the joint appendix. Moreover, his June 19, 2017 response also does not address those matters. Notably, these deadlines were not only found in those orders, but in the Rules of Appellate Procedure as well, see V.I. R. APP. P. 10(b)(1), 40.3(h), which Leycock, as part of the registration process for use of the VISCEFS, was required to certify his compliance with, see V.I. R. APP. P. 40.2(c)(5). And while Leycock ultimately filed the TPO on December 5, 2016, and filed physical copies of the brief and the joint appendix on April 11, 2017, all of these documents were filed months after the original due date, and only after this Court had to issue multiple orders to compel their filing. Moreover, Leycock’s primary explanation that he failed to show cause, in writing, as required by the November 22, 2016 and May 12, 2017 orders—that he figured this Court would at some point require him to show cause in person—is wholly unreasonable. Consequently, these acts—at best—represent only “hollow gestures” that “do not represent a diligent attempt at compliance.” McIntosh, 2013 WL 991250, at *4.

A fine and a referral

In addition to the resources expended by this Court in its attempts to get Leycock to comply with the pertinent rules and order—including those associated with holding the June 13, 2017 show cause hearing—we cannot ignore that the appeal process was delayed as a result of Leycock’s conduct,  and that the public was deprived of the opportunity to view a case file that otherwise would have been public had the required redactions been made. After weighing these factors, we conclude that a fine of $1,000, payable to the general fund of the Government of the Virgin Islands, represents the appropriate monetary sanction for Leycock’s civil contempt. Burke, 50 V.I. at 356.

Finally, we also find it appropriate to refer Leycock to the Office of Disciplinary Counsel for further investigation into his conduct. All judicial officers of the Virgin Islands are required to take appropriate action upon receiving information indicating a substantial likelihood that a lawyer has committed a violation of the Virgin Islands Rules of Professional Conduct. See V.I. CODE OF JUD. CONDUCT R. 2.15(D). Unfortunately, Leycock’s repeated failure to comply with this Court’s rules and orders potentially implicates several ethical rules.

(Mike Frisch)

Bar Discipline & Process | Permalink


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