Matter of Lieber, No. M-67-81.

Docket NºNo. M-67-81.
Citation442 A.2d 153
Case DateFebruary 17, 1982
CourtCourt of Appeals of Columbia District
442 A.2d 153
In the Matter of Michael S. LIEBER a Member of the Bar of the District of Columbia Court of Appeals.
No. M-67-81.
District of Columbia Court of Appeals.
Argued October 28, 1981.
Decided February 17, 1982.

Page 154

Edwin Yourman, Deputy Bar Counsel, with whom Fred Grabowsky, Bar counsel, Washington, D. C., was on the brief, for petitioner.

Thomas W. Farquhar, Washington, D. C., for respondent.

Before NEBEKER, PRYOR and BELSON, Associate Judges.

NEBEKER, Associate Judge:


In this disciplinary proceeding, Michael S. Lieber, respondent, was charged with violations of several disciplinary rules. The Board on Professional Responsibility (Board) adopted the Hearing Committee's findings of fact, and concluded that Lieber violated DR 1-102(A)(5) and DR 6-101(A)(3).1 Specifically, Lieber is charged with neglecting a legal matter entrusted to him, and with conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice. The Board recommends that Lieber be suspended for a period of six months. Lieber contends (1) that he cannot be held to have neglected a legal matter because there was no attorneyclient relationship, and (2) that imposition of a six-month suspension from the practice of law is too severe a sanction in this case. He offers no objection to the charge that his conduct was prejudicial to the administration of justice. Having heard oral argument and reviewed the record in this case, we reject Lieber's contentions and adopt the recommendation of the Board. The facts in this case are not in dispute and are set forth below.

I

Count I

Prior to November 28, 1978, Lieber signed his name to a roster of volunteer attorneys willing to participate in the Superior Court's Inmate Civil Assistance Project (Project) which provides legal assistance to eligible inmates in pro se civil actions. On November 28, Judge Mencher of the Superior Court sent a letter to Lieber informing him that he had been assigned to represent Charles Lewis Smith, III, an inmate at Lorton Correctional Complex. Smith had filed a civil action against Delbert Jackson, Director, Department of Corrections, for injuries Smith sustained as a result of an assault by a fellow inmate. In his letter, Judge Mencher stated that Smith's complaint and summons had been delivered to the U.S. Marshals for service. Judge Mencher further stated: "[I]f there is no apparent reason why you should not represent Mr. Smith, it is expected that you will enter your appearance promptly." Judge Mencher also sent Lieber a copy of

Page 155

the notice mailed to Smith advising him of his newly appointed counsel. Lieber failed to enter his appearance or to notify the Superior Court that he did not plan to represent Smith.

On December 1, 1978, a Deputy U.S. Marshal served Jackson with the summons and complaint, a notice of that service was sent to Lieber. Jackson filed a motion to dismiss the complaint accompanied with a memorandum of points and authorities. He served copies of both on Lieber. When there was no response to the motion, Judge Stewart dismissed Smith's complaint with prejudice, noting that Jackson's motion was unopposed. A copy of the court's order was sent to Lieber. At his hearing, Lieber testified that he received all the above mentioned documents from the court, and that each listed him as Smith's attorney.

Smith and his mother made several attempts to contact Lieber. Each succeeded on separate occasions and Lieber told both that he would visit Smith to discuss his case. At the time Smith was residing at the District of Columbia Jail. Neither Smith nor his mother were ever told that Lieber had not entered his appearance in the case or that he did not intend to represent Smith. On March 16, 1979, Smith filed a complaint with the Board on Professional Responsibility regarding Lieber's failure to provide proper representation. As a result, Bar Counsel sent a letter of inquiry to Lieber. In his April 9 response, Lieber stated: "Evidently I was appointed by Judge Mencher, pro bono, to represent Mr. Charles Smith, III in a pending civil matter. Due to a failure in communications I never entered an appearance in that matter but I am attempting to resolve the matter as soon as possible."

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38 practice notes
  • Practice and procedure: Patent and trademark cases rules of practice; representation of others before Patent and Trademark Office,
    • United States
    • Federal Register December 12, 2003
    • December 12, 2003
    ...(Comm'r Pat 1997); In re Cope, 455 A.2d 1357 (D.C. 1983); In re Haupt, 444 A.2d 317 (D.C. 1982); In re Lieber, 442 A.2d 153 (D.C. 1982); In re Whitlock, 441 A.2d 989 (D.C. 1982); In re Russell, 424 A.2d 1087 (D.C. 1980); In re Willcher, 404 A.2d 185 (D.C. 1979). Misconduct also may arise fr......
  • Part II
    • United States
    • Federal Register December 12, 2003
    • December 12, 2003
    ...(Comm'r Pat 1997); In re Cope, 455 A.2d 1357 (D.C. 1983); In re Haupt, 444 A.2d 317 (D.C. 1982); In re Lieber, 442 A.2d 153 (D.C. 1982); In re Whitlock, 441 A.2d 989 (D.C. 1982); In re Russell, 424 A.2d 1087 (D.C. 1980); In re Willcher, 404 A.2d 185 (D.C. 1979). Misconduct also may arise fr......
  • Beach TV Props., Inc. v. Solomon, Civil Action No.: 15–1823 (RC)
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of Columbia
    • March 29, 2018
    ...as his counsel is a consideration [for the court] in determining whether a[n attorney-client] relationship exists," Matter of Lieber , 442 A.2d 153, 156 (D.C. 1982)."Where, as here, ‘the substantive law of the forum state is uncertain or ambiguous, the job of the federal courts is carefully......
  • Butler v. Enter. Integration Corp., Civil Action No. 1:19-cv-01074 (CJN)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. United States District Court (Columbia)
    • May 6, 2020
    ...to determine whether an attorney-client relationship exist[ed]." In re Fay , 111 A.3d 1025, 1030 (D.C. 2015) (citing In re Lieber , 442 A.2d 153, 156 (D.C. 1982) ). Cusmano's conduct upon being engaged by Butler (as Butler himself describes it), while somewhat consistent with the existence ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
36 cases
  • Beach TV Props., Inc. v. Solomon, Civil Action No.: 15–1823 (RC)
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of Columbia
    • March 29, 2018
    ...as his counsel is a consideration [for the court] in determining whether a[n attorney-client] relationship exists," Matter of Lieber , 442 A.2d 153, 156 (D.C. 1982)."Where, as here, ‘the substantive law of the forum state is uncertain or ambiguous, the job of the federal courts is carefully......
  • Butler v. Enter. Integration Corp., Civil Action No. 1:19-cv-01074 (CJN)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. United States District Court (Columbia)
    • May 6, 2020
    ...to determine whether an attorney-client relationship exist[ed]." In re Fay , 111 A.3d 1025, 1030 (D.C. 2015) (citing In re Lieber , 442 A.2d 153, 156 (D.C. 1982) ). Cusmano's conduct upon being engaged by Butler (as Butler himself describes it), while somewhat consistent with the existence ......
  • TELTSCHIK v. WILLIAMS & JENSEN, PLLC, Civil Action No. 08-00089 (HHK).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. United States District Court (Columbia)
    • February 12, 2010
    ...an attorney-client relationship existed is to be determined by the fact finder based on the circumstances of each case. See In re Lieber, 442 A.2d 153, 156 (D.C. 1982). At this stage of the proceedings, the Court determines whether a reasonable jury could determine whether "the parties, exp......
  • In re Jones, No. 87-252.
    • United States
    • District of Columbia Court of Appeals of Columbia District
    • December 2, 1987
    ...to respond to Bar Counsel's inquiries. In re Jones, 521 A.2d 1119 (D.C. 1986); In re Haupt, 444 A.2d 317 (D.C. 1982); In re Lieber, 442 A.2d 153 (D.C. 1982); In re Whitlock, 441 A.2d 989 (D.C. 1982); In re Russell, 424 A.2d 1087 (D.C. 1980); In re Willcher, 404 A.2d 185 (D.C. 1979). But non......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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