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Disciplinary Reporter Case Digest

Attorney ID 69307
Attorney Name Halterman, Keith Acton
DBP Docket No. 34 DB 2001 and 120 DB 2001
Supreme Court Docket No. No. 655 DD No. 3
County Philadelphia
Disciplinary Counsel Barbara S. Rosenberg
Counsel for Respondent None
Decision Date 2003-10-09
Effective Date 2001-12-28
Case Digest In No. 34 DB 2001, Respondent was convicted in January 2001 of possession of a controlled substance (cocaine) and fined $1,000. In No. 120 DB 2001, Respondent was transferred to CLE inactive status in July 2000, but failed to notify his clients, continued to practice and accepted new clients. During a period from 1997 to 2001, he engaged in misconduct involving ten clients in divorce, property damage, construction contract, medical malpractice, and criminal litigation matters. In most of the cases, Respondent accepted representation but failed to provide written fee agreements, and thereafter failed to take effective action to prosecute the clients’ matters and to protect their interests. He failed to communicate with the clients, or, when he did, lied to them about the status of their cases. In some cases, Respondent gave the clients poor advice and acted without authorization. In one case, he failed to deposit funds into an escrow account and lost the check. He failed to withdraw as counsel, notify his clients and opposing counsel, and refund unearned fees when transferred to inactive status. In one case, he represented judgment debtors, for whom he repeatedly filed incomplete bankruptcy actions to forestall sheriff’s sales. In September 2001, Respondent commence drug treat-ment. He consented to temporary suspension and cooperated fully in the disciplinary proceeding. Although his testimony demonstrated a history of drug abuse leading to his misconduct, his failure to provide expert testimony deprived him of a finding of a nexus between his condition and his misconduct.
Rule Violation(s) RPC 5.5(b), 8.4(d); Pa.R.D.E. 203(b)(1); Pa.R.D.E. 203(b)(3) via 217(b), (c), (d), (e) and (j); RPC 1.4(a) and (b), 1.5(b), 1.15(a), 1.15(b), 1.16(a)(1), 1.16(d), 3.2(d), and 8.4(c).
Discipline Imposed 3 year suspension retroactive to temporary suspension 12/28/01
Points of Law None
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