Thursday, September 28, 2023
The District of Columbia Court of Appeals has accepted a negotiated sanction of an attorney
In this disciplinary matter, the Hearing Committee recommends approval of a petition for negotiated attorney discipline. See D.C. Bar R. XI, § 12.1(c). Respondent Paul Haar voluntarily acknowledged that, in connection with representing Manuel Garza, he charged an illegal (and thus per se unreasonable) fee and seriously interfered with the administration of justice when he repeatedly failed to respond to Disciplinary Counsel’s inquiries regarding the illegal fee; and further that, in connection with representing Mariia Chuta, he failed to provide competent representation, serve the client with commensurate skill and care, adequately consult with the client, act with reasonable promptness, explain a matter to the client, and timely return an unearned and unreasonable (overbilled) fee. As a result, respondent admits that he violated D.C. R. Prof. Conduct 1.1(a)-(b), 1.2(a), 1.3(c), 1.4(b), 1.5(a) (x2), 1.16(d), 8.1(b), and 8.4(d). The proposed discipline consists of a 180-day suspension, stayed as to all but 90 days, with reinstatement conditioned on respondent providing a $5,000 refund to Mr. Garza and a $22,000 refund to Ms. Chuta. The parties clarified before the Committee that respondent had already fully refunded Mr. Garza and paid $1,000 to Ms. Chuta, and that the agreed-upon sanction was, in effect, a 90-day suspension that would continue indefinitely (i.e. no outer bound at 180 days) until respondent paid the remaining $21,000 to Ms. Chuta.
Having reviewed the Committee’s recommendation in accordance with our procedures in uncontested disciplinary cases, see D.C. Bar R. XI, § 12.1(d), we agree that this case is appropriate for negotiated discipline and that “the agreed-upon sanction is ‘justified,’”