Disciplinary Reporter Case Digest

Attorney ID 42600
Attorney Name Levande, Eric M.D.
DBP Docket No. 72 DB 1999
Supreme Court Docket No. 658 D.D. No. 3
County Lackawanna
Disciplinary Counsel Edwin R. Frownfelter
Counsel for Respondent Robert H. Davis, Jr.
Decision Date 2001-04-02
Effective Date 2001-05-02
Case Digest Respondent, who operated a high-volume, low-fee law practice out of several satellite offices in Northeastern Pennsylvania, was charged with seven counts of misconduct involving clents in bankruptcy and divorce matters. The charges included allegations that Respondent had knowingly prepared petitions which omitted significant assets and other information he knew or should have known the clients possessed; that he had failed to file timely petitions and pleadings and that he had failed to respond to clients' inquiries about the status of their cases over periods ranging from nine months to three years. Respondent also failed to segregate payments for advanced fees and costs in a trust account and commingled these payments with his own funds. His trust account was overdrawn on several occasions. Respondent had a practice of placing advance payments into his own account and transferring them into the trust account when disbursement was needed. Respondent did not keep appropriate records but reconstructed his handling of funds when called upon to account for them. His mishandling of funds was found to be the result of negligence, poor recordkeeping, and lack of understanding of trust account principles rather than dishonesty. The hearing committee found aggravating factors in Respondent's prior record of two Informal Admonitions, and in his attitude of blaming his problems on others, particularly his clients, rather than accepting responsibility for them. Mitigating factors were health problems and a turbulent marital situation.
Rule Violation(s) 1.1; 1.3; 1.4(a); 1.15(a); 1.15(b); 1.15(d); 1.16(d); 8.4(d)
Discipline Imposed Suspension for one year and one day.
Points of Law Where a lawyer does not accept responsibility for numerous incidents of misconduct, but blames others including clients for his problems, suspension rather than probation is appropriate. Where a lawyer alleges false information in a petition not because of dishonesty but because of carelessness or lack of investigation, he has not acted with "reckless indifference" such as to commit conduct involving dishonesty in violation of RPC 8.4(c), but his conduct may violate RPC 1.3 or prejudice to the administration of justice in violation of 8.4(d).
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