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Disciplinary Reporter Case Digest

Attorney ID 20802
Attorney Name Levine, Michael
DBP Docket No. 18 DB 2007
Supreme Court Docket No. 1250 DD No. 3
County Out of State
Disciplinary Counsel Patti S. Bednarik
Counsel for Respondent None
Decision Date 2007-06-01
Effective Date 2006-06-20
Case Digest Respondent was charged with neglect, lack of communication and failure to refund unearned fees to four former clients whom he represented in immigration proceedings. In the first case, Respondent filed a clientís application with INS which was rejected for failure to remit the filing fees and deficiencies in the application documents. Respondent was out of trust with respect to both the legal fees and filing fees that his client had paid. In the second case, Respondent became ill and failed to complete any of the work that he had agreed to perform. Respondent failed to keep his clientís money in escrow until such time as it was earned. In the third case, Respondent submitted an incomplete application package on behalf of his clients to the INS, wherein some necessary documents were missing entirely and other documents omitted required information including his clientsí signatures. The application was rejected as a result of the incomplete documentation and failure to send a correct filing fee. In the fourth case, Respondent failed to make any meaningful progress on two immigration cases that he had accepted on behalf of a brother and a sister from February 2001 until 2006, at which time he terminated the representation and he closed his office. Even though Respondent notified his clients that he closed his office and transferred his files to another attorney, he failed to provide his four former clients with an accounting or refund his unearned fees and unused filing fees and failed to provide a forwarding address. Respondentís prior disciplinary history was an aggravating factor in this case. Respondent also had mitigating factors including hospitalization for mental health issues, severe financial problems and marital stress. In 1997, he had received a Private Reprimand with one year probation. The probation was extended for another year as a result of his failure to comply with the conditions of probation. On June 20, 2006, Respondent was suspended for a year and a day for violations of Rules of Professional Conduct 1.1, 1.3, 1.4(a), 1.4(b), 8.4(d) ,1.15(a), 1.16(d) in connection with his representation of three immigration clients in the case docketed to No. 1129 Disciplinary Docket No. 3, Disciplinary Board No. 163 DB 2004.
Rule Violation(s) RPC 1.1, 1.3, 1.4(a), 1.4(b), [before 1/05], RPC 1.15(a), 1.15(b), after 1/05, RP C1.15(a), RPC 1.15(b), 1.16(d)
Discipline Imposed One year suspension to run consecutive to suspension imposed on June 20, 2006
Points of Law Recidivism for similar conduct was an aggravating factor and Respondentís hospitalizations for mental health issues at the time of the representations were major mitigating factors.
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