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Disciplinary Reporter Case Digest

Attorney ID 85150
Attorney Name Thomas, Anthony Norman
DBP Docket No. 141 DB 2006
Supreme Court Docket No. 1219 DD No. 3
County Dauphin
Disciplinary Counsel Edwin W. Frese, Jr.
Counsel for Respondent Samuel C. Stretton
Decision Date 2007-01-30
Effective Date 2007-03-02
Case Digest This case involved seven separate legal matters. In the first, the Respondent was paid a total of $11,800 to represent a criminal defendant through trial and sentencing. The client pleaded guilty and his mother, who had paid the fees, asked for a refund of unearned fees. Respondent claimed that he had earned all of the fees. His records of his IOLTA account indicated he had paid himself a total of $12,790 on this clientís behalf. It is unknown whose funds were used to pay the difference of $990. The Respondent was then appointed to represent the client on appeal but Respondent continually failed to miss deadlines and even failed to respond to a number of orders directing to respond. When Respondent finally did appear in person before the court, he explained that someone had intentionally and maliciously hacked into his computer, broke into his office, intercepted and interrupted phone calls and messages, totally disrupting his practice. The court removed him from the CJA List of Attorneys and as the clientís counsel and fined him $150. The second matter the Respondent accepted $500 and agreed to interview the Complainantís son in jail. However, the Respondent never did so and was incommunicado from Complainant over the next seven months, after which Complainant asked for her $500 back. Respondent never repaid it. The third case involved a breach of contract for faulty remodeling work. Respondentís firm was paid a $1,000 retainer and clientís case was initially handled by an associate. When the associate left the firm, the file stayed with the Respondent and was ready for Respondent to file a Complaint seeking $6,000 in damages. However, allegedly believing that the matter had been resolved, Respondent did nothing and failed to respond to the clientís calls. In the fourth matter, Respondent agreed through the National Legal Professional Associates to represent a convicted murderer in filing a PCRA Petition for a fee of $4,000. The Respondent was paid the $4,000 in two or three payments by NLPA, but failed to file the PCRA. Respondent claimed that he thought he had only been paid $1,500, even though he had been paid the entire $4,000. He later discovered that $2,500 had been deposited into his general operating account and spent. He never refunded the unearned fee. The fifth matter involved another federal criminal case. Respondent was privately retained to handle the sentencing and appeal. While Respondent appeared at sentencing he thereafter failed to file post trial motions or an appeal. Almost a year after sentencing, Respondent asked for an extension of time to file a ß2255 Motion, which was granted. However, Respondent failed to file the Motion. Three months later, after the defendant had written to the judge requesting a copy of the ß2255 Motion the defendant thought Respondent had filed, the Judge directed the Respondent to explain why no such motion had been filed. Respondent failed to respond and was ordered to personally appear before the Court. At that time, he attempted to explain the problems with his computer and phone being tampered with, which the Court felt were unspecific and unsatisfactory, and appointed other counsel. The final matter involved Respondentís mishandling of two criminal appeals in first degree murder cases. In the first, Respondent filed his 1925 Statement 2 days late and eventually failed to file a brief, resulting in the dismissal of the clientís appeal. In the second, Respondent simply never filed an appeal because he had resigned his position as conflicts counsel and failed to insure other counsel took over the case.
Rule Violation(s) 1.1, 1.3, 1.4(a)(b), 1.5(b),1.15(a)(b)(d), 1.16(d), 8.4(c)(d)
Discipline Imposed Suspension for one year and one day
Points of Law Mitigating circumstances included lack of a prior record, cooperation with investigation, admission of misconduct, and fact that his computers and phones had been tampered with resulted in severe financial difficulties eventually leading to closing of Respondentís office.
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