Daggs, In re, 31

Decision Date01 June 1971
Docket NumberA,No. 31,31
Citation187 N.W.2d 227,384 Mich. 729
PartiesIn the Matter of LeRoy DAGGS, a member of the State Bar of Michigan, Respondent-Appellant. * pril Term.
CourtMichigan Supreme Court

Louis Rosenzweig, Detroit, Counsel to State Bar Grievance Administrator State Bar Grievance Board.

Donald L. Hobson, Detroit, for respondent-appellant; Clarence Laster, Jr., Detroit, of counsel.

Before the Entire Bench.

PER CURIAM.

In this matter we are asked to review a disciplinary order of the State Bar Grievance Board issued pursuant to Rule 15 of the Rules Concerning the State Bar of Michigan for violation of Rule 14 of those rules.

The order of discipline provides for the suspension of Respondent's license to practice law for a period of three months, and the payment of costs to reimburse the State Bar for expenses incurred in processing the grievance.

The charge against the Respondent was that the failed to prosecute diligently a suit for divorce which he started on behalf of a client after being retained to do so.

The evidence presented to the hearing panel clearly established that the client paid the Respondent $150.00 in September, 1968 that he filed the complaint in November 1968; obtained a preliminary injunction and order for attorney fees upon filing the suit; and that thereafter he did nothing in the matter with the result that the suit was dismissed for lack of progress in January, 1970.

After ignoring three letters from the office of the State Bar Grievance Administrator asking his explanation of the matters asserted in the complaint, the Respondent answered the formal charge and testified before the hearing panel in October 1970. The panel's Order for Discipline on review by the Grievance Board on Respondent's petition, was affirmed in all respects except the period of discipline was reduced from six to three months.

The only matter urged by Respondent in this review is stated:

'Whether Respondent-Appellant was involved in unprofessional conduct in violation of the Michigan Supreme Court Rules and Canons of Ethics so as to justify a three months suspension from the practice of law?'

He argues that the Board should not credit the client's version that the $150.00 was to represent the whole fee for his services in light of the fact that this amount is less than the recommended minimum. He urges that in face of his 15 years of good professional practice, the Board should give greater credibility to his version that this sum amounted only to a partial retainer and that the client promised additional money before the suit would be processed.

Although he acknowledges that the credit to be accorded witnesses' testimony is specially in the province of the fact finder, by asking us to say they erred in this circumstance, we are persuaded Respondent bespeaks a woeful misconception of a lawyer's responsibility under our rules and the canons of ethics.

Once a lawyer accepts retainer to represent a client he is obliged to exert his best...

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