In re Roundtree, No. M-110-82.

Docket NºNo. M-110-82.
Citation467 A.2d 143
Case DateSeptember 19, 1983
CourtCourt of Appeals of Columbia District

Page 143

467 A.2d 143
In re Dovey J. ROUNDTREE, Respondent.
No. M-110-82.
District of Columbia Court of Appeals.
Argued September 14, 1982.
Decided September 19, 1983.

David Carr, Asst. Bar Counsel, Washington, D.C., with whom Fred Grabowsky, Bar Counsel, Washington, D.C., was on the brief, for the Board on Professional Responsibility.

James T. Wright, Washington, D.C., for respondent.

Before NEBEKER, FERREN and TERRY, Associate Judges.

PER CURIAM:


The court has before it the Report and Recommendation of the Board on Professional Responsibility (the Board), which considered five separate allegations of professional misconduct by respondent, a member of the bar.1 After examining the findings

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and conclusions of its hearing committee, the Board found that respondent had committed one violation of Disciplinary Rule 1-102(A)(4),2 four violations of DR 6-101(A)(3),3 and two violations each of DR 7-101(A)(1), (2), and (3).4 Although Bar Counsel argued for a suspension of a year and a day, the Board recommended that respondent be suspended for six months. Having conducted our own review of the record, we agree with Bar Counsel that a suspension of a year and a day is appropriate.

Respondent challenges the Board's decision on several grounds. First, she argues that the Board's findings and conclusions are not supported by the record. Second, she maintains that the composition of the hearing committee which heard her case violated due process because it lacked members who practiced in her special field of law. Third, respondent claims that the Board's proposed suspension for six months is too great when compared with sanctions in other cases for comparable conduct. Fourth, respondent contends that the Board's recommendation that she make restitution to one client in the amount of $410 was unreasonable and inequitable. We find no merit in any of respondent's arguments.

I

Rule XI, § 7(3), of our Rules Governing the Bar provides that this court "shall accept the findings of fact made by the Board unless they are unsupported by substantial evidence of record. . . ." In this case the hearing committee heard testimony from respondent and the four clients whose complaints formed the basis for the charges against her. The transcript of the hearing, which lasted two days, is almost 500 pages long. Both respondent and Bar Counsel conducted direct and cross-examination and submitted proposed findings of fact and recommendations for discipline. The hearing committee made extensive findings of fact, which were reviewed by the Board before it issued its own Report and Recommendation. The record amply demonstrates that the Board's findings were supported by substantial evidence.

Count One

In February of 1978, Mrs. Cleo Poole retained respondent to obtain a legal separation and support order, explaining to respondent that she was in serious financial need. At that time Mrs. Poole was confined to a hospital, and her husband, with whom she no longer lived, had stopped sending her money. Respondent promptly filed a complaint and a motion for temporary support. Mrs. Poole's husband then sent her some money, but it was not enough to meet her needs. After about two months, Mrs. Poole notified respondent that because of her financial plight, she was going to have to abandon her suit and move back to Virginia to live with her parents.5 Respondent, however, persuaded her to remain in the District of Columbia and finally reached an agreement with counsel requiring Mrs. Poole's husband to pay interim support through the court.

Having learned that her husband had made payments into the registry of the court, Mrs. Poole attempted several times to withdraw those funds, but the court refused to release them. Mrs. Poole left repeated

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messages at respondent's office concerning the difficulty she was having, but respondent never returned her calls, nor did she do anything to effect the release of the money. Finally, after several months, Mrs. Poole collected her money from the court registry. The difficulties she had experienced were due to respondent's failure to have a consent order properly entered. The Board found that respondent had neglected a legal matter entrusted to her, in violation of DR 6-101(A)(3).

Count Two

In the spring of 1977, Mrs. Brenda Jones engaged respondent's services in a domestic matter. Mrs. Jones and her husband had been separated for five years, during which she had supported herself and her two minor children. Mrs. Jones told respondent that she was primarily interested in obtaining a divorce, but at respondent's suggestion she agreed to seek child support and custody as well. Although the complaint drawn up by respondent sought both an absolute divorce and child support and custody, respondent only charged Mrs. Jones the fee for an uncontested divorce. The complaint was filed, and some time later respondent and the husband's court-appointed attorney6 filed a joint praecipe placing the case on the court's uncontested calendar.

When Mrs. Jones received a notice from respondent that a hearing had been set for November 17, she made an appointment to meet with respondent at her office on November 14. Upon arriving there, however, she was told that respondent could not see her and that respondent's associate, Jerry Hunter, would be handling her case. Mr. Hunter had not reviewed Mrs. Jones' file, nor had he discussed the case with respondent. When he read the complaint for the first time during the meeting with Mrs. Jones, he saw that it requested child support. He thereupon told Mrs. Jones that her case could not be heard as an uncontested matter and arranged to have it taken off the court's hearing calendar for November 17. Nothing more was done. Over the next nine months Mrs. Jones called respondent's office several times inquiring about the status of her case, but she was never given any information. Because respondent failed to pursue Mrs. Jones' claim, the case was dismissed by the court. The Board found that respondent had violated DR 6-101(A)(3) and 7-101(A)(1), (2), and (3).

Count Three

On December 21, 1977, Dorothy Jackson came to respondent's office to discuss a complaint for divorce she had received which had been filed by her husband in Ohio. Respondent selected an Ohio attorney for Mrs. Jackson from a legal directory and dictated a letter to that attorney in Mrs. Jackson's presence. The letter asked the attorney to accept the case and to provide information about her fee.7

On February 22, 1978, respondent telephoned the Ohio attorney and requested that she attend a hearing scheduled for the following day in Ohio. Although the attorney had little or no knowledge of the facts of the case, she agreed to go to court and request a continuance. That request was denied, an absolute divorce was granted, and all of the marital property, including valuables belonging to Mrs. Jackson, was awarded to Mrs. Jackson's husband. A letter recounting these events was promptly sent by the Ohio attorney to respondent, who forwarded a copy to Mrs. Jackson.

On March 7 Mrs. Jackson met with respondent at her office. Respondent suggested that Mrs. Jackson appeal the Ohio

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decision, and Mrs. Jackson agreed. No action was taken by respondent to note an appeal, however, until March 22, and by that time the twenty-day appeal period had expired. The Board found that respondent had violated DR 6-101(A)(3) and 7-101(A)(1), (2), and (3).8

Count Four

The final disciplinary matter involved Diane White, who consulted respondent in October 1979 regarding certain alleged discrimination and harassment which she was experiencing at work. Respondent discouraged the filing of a civil suit, but she said she would review the employment files maintained by Mrs. White's union to determine whether administrative action was appropriate. Mrs. White told her union representative that her attorney would be calling and asked the union to provide respondent with pertinent information. Some time passed, but Mrs. White heard nothing further, so she contacted respondent again. Respondent then informed her that she had sent a letter to the union president. When nothing more happened, Mrs. White telephoned respondent and requested a copy of the...

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26 practice notes
  • In re Jones, No. 87-252.
    • United States
    • District of Columbia Court of Appeals of Columbia District
    • December 2, 1987
    ...properly be taken into account in imposing a sanction here. In re Rosen, 481 A.2d 451, 455 (D.C. 1984) (citing cases); In re Roundtree, 467 A.2d 143, 148 (D.C. 1983). We conclude that the Board, in the exercise of its discretion, has made a reasonable recommendation, and accordingly we adop......
  • Matter of Williams, No. M-111-82.
    • United States
    • District of Columbia Court of Appeals of Columbia District
    • July 30, 1986
    ...conduct, or would otherwise be unwarranted. Id.; see, e.g., In re Hines, 482 A.2d 378, 386 (D.C.1984) (per curiam); In re Roundtree, 467 A.2d 143, 147 (D.C.1983) (per curiam); In re Thorup, 461 A.2d 1018, 1019-20 (D.C.1983) (per curiam); In re Haupt, 422 A.2d 768, 771 (D.C.1980) (per curiam......
  • IN RE PIERSON, No. 95-BG-1029
    • United States
    • February 28, 1997
    ...the District of Columbia has only one set of Rules of Professional Conduct, and they apply equally to all lawyers. See In re Roundtree, 467 A.2d 143, 147 (D.C. 1983). Evidence that would permit a deviation from the Addams rule is simply not present in this B. Extraordinary Circumstances Ms.......
  • Matter of Robertson, No. 91-SP-730.
    • United States
    • District of Columbia Court of Appeals of Columbia District
    • July 7, 1992
    ...of the Board, limited the required restitution to the $1,000 retainer fee the clients had paid the attorney. Likewise, in In re Roundtree, 467 A.2d 143, 148 (D.C.1983), we adopted the Board's recommendation of $410 in restitution, representing what the client had paid to the lawyer, charact......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
26 cases
  • In re Jones, No. 87-252.
    • United States
    • District of Columbia Court of Appeals of Columbia District
    • December 2, 1987
    ...properly be taken into account in imposing a sanction here. In re Rosen, 481 A.2d 451, 455 (D.C. 1984) (citing cases); In re Roundtree, 467 A.2d 143, 148 (D.C. 1983). We conclude that the Board, in the exercise of its discretion, has made a reasonable recommendation, and accordingly we adop......
  • Matter of Williams, No. M-111-82.
    • United States
    • District of Columbia Court of Appeals of Columbia District
    • July 30, 1986
    ...conduct, or would otherwise be unwarranted. Id.; see, e.g., In re Hines, 482 A.2d 378, 386 (D.C.1984) (per curiam); In re Roundtree, 467 A.2d 143, 147 (D.C.1983) (per curiam); In re Thorup, 461 A.2d 1018, 1019-20 (D.C.1983) (per curiam); In re Haupt, 422 A.2d 768, 771 (D.C.1980) (per curiam......
  • IN RE PIERSON, No. 95-BG-1029
    • United States
    • February 28, 1997
    ...the District of Columbia has only one set of Rules of Professional Conduct, and they apply equally to all lawyers. See In re Roundtree, 467 A.2d 143, 147 (D.C. 1983). Evidence that would permit a deviation from the Addams rule is simply not present in this B. Extraordinary Circumstances Ms.......
  • Matter of Robertson, No. 91-SP-730.
    • United States
    • District of Columbia Court of Appeals of Columbia District
    • July 7, 1992
    ...of the Board, limited the required restitution to the $1,000 retainer fee the clients had paid the attorney. Likewise, in In re Roundtree, 467 A.2d 143, 148 (D.C.1983), we adopted the Board's recommendation of $410 in restitution, representing what the client had paid to the lawyer, charact......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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