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Disciplinary Reporter Case Digest

Attorney ID 0
Attorney Name Anonymous,    
DBP Docket No. 17 DB 2003
Supreme Court Docket No. N/A
County N/A
Disciplinary Counsel Edwin R. Frownfelter
Counsel for Respondent Robert H. Davis Jr.
Decision Date 2004-03-12
Effective Date 2004-05-04
Case Digest Respondent made a decision to close his law practice and accept employment as corporate counsel in a business. Respondent had previously received a private reprimand for failure to diligently attend to clients’ cases while he was winding down his law practice. Respondent was charged with misconduct in three additional cases. One case was a dispute between his clients and a property owners’ association. The clients had paid their POA dues to Respondent in escrow for several years. On 12 occasions the balance in Respondent’s trust account fell below the amount of the dues we was charged with holding, leading to a conclusion he had failed to maintain the dues in trust. When the clients discharged Respondent, he failed to refund the balance of the dues for four months after the clients requested they be refunded. The client filed a suit against Respondent with a District Justice and obtained a default judgment, which Respondent had not satisfied. In a second case, Respondent represented clients in a property damage case. After telling the clients he was closing his office, he stated that he would take steps to obtain an insurance settlement which had been offered, but he failed to do so. He also failed to return the clients’ file for two years. Once he did return the file, the clients were able to settle the case on their own. In the third case, Respondent agreed to represent a client in a bankruptcy matter, and accepted payments for doing so, but he never gave the client a written statement of his fees and did not file a bankruptcy petition. Respondent also failed to forward the client’s file and a promised fee payment to successor counsel. In mitigation, the Hearing Committee found that Respondent had been involved in a full-time job with the corporation for which he worked, and that the misconduct was unlikely to recur due to Respondent’s stable private employment situation. The Hearing Committee recommended that Respondent receive public censure, but the Disciplinary Board determined that the appropriate discipline was private reprimand with a condition that the Respondent satisfy the judgment against him.
Rule Violation(s) RPC 1.3; 1.4(a); 1.5(b); 1.15(a); 1.15(b); 1.16(d)
Discipline Imposed Private reprimand with condition (satisfaction of judgment obtained by client)
Points of Law Although a lawyer may leave the general practice of law, he has ongoing responsibility to attend to the prompt and ethical conclusion of all cases undertaken in general practice. When the balance of a lawyer’s trust account falls below the amount he is charged with holding, a violation of RPC 1.15(a) has occurred even though the problem arises from negligence and poor recordkeeping.
Report/Opinion not available