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Disciplinary Reporter Case Digest

Attorney ID 2349
Attorney Name Abrams, Ronald B.
DBP Docket No. 153 DB 2000
Supreme Court Docket No. No. 798 D.D. No. 3
County Philadelphia
Disciplinary Counsel Barbara S. Rosenberg
Counsel for Respondent John Rogers Carroll
Decision Date 2003-01-28
Effective Date 2003-02-27
Case Digest Respondent was suspended from the Bar of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania for eighteen months followed by a term of probation of two years supervised by the Disciplinary Board. Respondent was charged with commingling and conversion of client funds and the delayed distribution of those funds to clients and third parties as well as the misappropriation and conversion of funds in a family trust, of which Respondent was the trustee. The misconduct occurred over a three-year period. Respondent cooperated with Petitioner and entered into Joint Stipulations of Facts admitting to professional misconduct and violation of RPC 1.15(a) and 1.15(b). The Board found sufficient evidence to establish a violation of 8.4(c). Respondent presented two medical experts to establish that he suffered from hypomania, a psychiatric disorder, at the time of misconduct and that this hypomania was a causal factor in his misconduct. However, the Board found the testimony to be incredible, unpersuasive, and equivocal, falling short of meeting Respondentís burden of proof to establish psychiatric mitigation under the Braun standard. One expert was not fully apprised of the details of the Respondentís misconduct until after his diagnosis of hypomania. The other expert did not have a detailed case history of Respondent. In mitigation, the Board considered that the Respondent had no record of discipline, was extremely remorseful, cooperated with Petitioner, and made full restitution with interest to the trust before proceedings were instituted against him. The delays in distributing settlements, though harmful to his clients, were often caused by the need to negotiate or litigate bills or liens.
Rule Violation(s) 1.15(a), 1.15(b), 8.4(c)
Discipline Imposed Eighteen Month Suspension With Two Year Probation
Points of Law Proof of criminal intent is not required to establish a violation of RPC 8.4(c). A demonstration of a pattern of using fiduciary funds for personal use is sufficient to establish a violation of RPC 8.4(c).
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