Office of Disciplinary Counsel v. Chajkowski, 060117 PASCDC, 2364-3

Docket Nº:2364 Disciplinary Docket 3
Opinion Judge:PER CURIAM.
Party Name:OFFICE OF DISCIPLINARY COUNSEL, Petitioner v. MARY ELLEN CHAJKOWSKI, Respondent No. 81 DB 2015
Case Date:June 01, 2017
Court:Court of Judicial Discipline of Pennsylvania
 
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OFFICE OF DISCIPLINARY COUNSEL, Petitioner

v.

MARY ELLEN CHAJKOWSKI, Respondent

No. 2364 Disciplinary Docket No. 3

No. 81 DB 2015

Court of Judicial Discipline of Pennsylvania

June 1, 2017

Attorney Registration No. 86611 (Out of State)

ORDER

PER CURIAM.

AND NOW, this 1st day of June, 2017, upon consideration of the Petition for Review and responses to a Report and Recommendations of the Disciplinary Board, Mary Ellen Chajkowski is suspended from the Bar of this Commonwealth for a period of one year and one day, and she shall comply with all the provisions of Pa.R.D.E. 217. Respondent shall pay costs to the Disciplinary Board pursuant to Pa.R.D.E. 208(g).

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE DISCIPLINARY BOARD OF THE SUPREME COURT OF PENNSYLVANIA

TO THE HONORABLE CHIEF JUSTICE AND JUSTICES OF THE SUPREME COURT OF PENNSYLVANIA:

Pursuant to Rule 208(d)(2)(iii) of the Pennsylvania Rules of Disciplinary Enforcement, the Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania ("Board") herewith submits its findings and recommendations to your Honorable Court with respect to the above-captioned Petition for Discipline.

I. HISTORY OF PROCEEDINGS

By Petition for Discipline filed on November 10, 2015, Office of Disciplinary Counsel charged Mary Ellen Chajkowski, Respondent, with violations of Rules of Professional Conduct ("RPC") 1.16(a)(1), 3.1, 4.4(a), and 8.4(d). Because Respondent provided the Disciplinary Board with only a post office box number for her address, the Petition for Discipline was served by regular mail and was not returned to Petitioner as "undeliverable" or "refused." Respondent was served with the Petition for Discipline and did not file an Answer to Petition.

A prehearing conference was held on March 24, 2016, at which Respondent was present and represented by counsel. A disciplinary hearing was held on April 29, 2016, before a District IV Hearing Committee comprised of Chair Craig L. Fishman, Esquire, and Members Betsy A. Zimmerman, Esquire and Jason A. Medure, Esquire. At the commencement of the disciplinary hearing, over Respondent's objection, the Hearing Committee granted Respondent's counsel's motion to withdraw. Respondent's motion for a continuance of the hearing to obtain new counsel was denied and the hearing was held. Petitioner offered one administrative exhibit and four additional exhibits relating to aggravating factors, three of which were admitted. Petitioner did not call any witnesses. Respondent testified on her own behalf, but called no other witnesses and presented no documentary evidence.

Following the submission of briefs by the parties, the Hearing Committee filed a Report on August 25, 2016, concluding that Respondent violated the Rules of Professional Conduct and recommending that she be suspended from the practice of law for a period of one year and one day.

On September 16, 2016, Respondent filed a Brief on Exceptions to the Hearing Committee Report and requested oral argument before the Board.

Office of Disciplinary Counsel filed a Brief Opposing Exceptions on September 23, 2016.

A three-member panel of the Board held oral argument on January 5, 2017.

The Board adjudicated this matter at the meeting on January 12, 2017.

II. FINDINGS OF FACT

The Board makes the following findings:

1. Petitioner, whose principal office is located at Pennsylvania Judicial Center, Suite 2700, 601 Commonwealth Avenue, P.O. Box 62485, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania 17106-2485, is invested, pursuant to Rule 207 of the Pennsylvania Rules of Disciplinary Enforcement ("Pa.R.D.E."), with the power and the duty to investigate all matters involving alleged misconduct of an attorney admitted to practice law in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and to prosecute all disciplinary proceedings brought in accordance with the various provisions of the aforesaid Rules.

2. Respondent is Mary Ellen Chajkowski. She was born in 1949 and was admitted to the practice of law in the Commonwealth in 2000. Her attorney registration mailing address is P.O. Box 57694, Jacksonville, FL 32241. Respondent is subject to the disciplinary jurisdiction of the Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. AE I, NT. 69.

3. Respondent has a record of prior discipline consisting of an Informal Admonition administered on September 28, 2015, for violation of RPC 8.4(d), arising out of her failure to pay court-ordered sanctions on four occasions. PE 2, PE 3, PE 4.

4. On May 15, 1996, Steven Smith filed a workers' compensation claim petition for an alleged injury arising from his exposure to chemicals on February 28, 1996, while he was employed by Consolidated Freightways (Consolidated), which subsequently became known as Con-way. AE I.

5. On October 31, 1997, Mr. Smith filed a petition to recover payment for medical bills allegedly related to the same chemical exposure. AE I.

6. On October 15, 1997, and November 30, 1998, Workers' Compensation Judge ("WCJ") Kathleen Vallely denied the above-mentioned petitions. AEI.

7. On December 31, 1999, WCJ Vallely's decisions were affirmed on appeal by the Workers' Compensation Appeal Board ("WCAB"). AE I.

8. Mr. Smith filed no further appeals from the WCAB affirmances of WCJ Vallely's orders. AE I.

9. On September 24, 2001, Mr. Smith filed, pro se, three additional claim petitions for the same alleged injury, claiming misconduct by Consolidated in the earlier 1997-1998 proceedings, and asserting the existence of after-discovered evidence. AE I.

10. On March 15, 2002, WCJ David Henry, who assumed the petitions were duplicate assignments by the bureau, rather than duplicate filings by Mr. Smith, consolidated the three claim petitions and convened a hearing. AE I.

11. Finding that none of Mr. Smith's allegations of wrongdoing by the employer or the alleged additional evidence warranted reopening the case, and that the claims were otherwise barred under the doctrine of res judicata, WCJ Henry dismissed the claim petitions. AE I.

12. On April 17, 2002, Mr. Smith's counsel, Charles A. Knoll, Jr., filed an appeal with the WCAB. AE I.

13. By Order dated July 29, 2003, the WCAB affirmed WCJ Henry's decision. AE I.

14. By Opinion and Order of the Commonwealth Court dated December 17, 2003, the Court affirmed the WCAB's decision. AE I.

15. In connection with her employment at the law firm of Vincler and Knoll, Respondent began representing Mr. Smith at or about the time of the proceedings before WCJ Henry and the related WCAB matter. AE I.

16. On March 19, 2004, on behalf of Mr. Smith, Respondent filed a Petition for Allowance of Appeal to the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, which was thereafter denied on March 23, 2005. AE I.

17. On April 1, 2005, Respondent filed a Request for Reconsideration with the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, which was thereafter denied on April 19, 2005. AEI.

18. On June 24, 2005, on behalf of Mr. Smith, Respondent filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari with the United States Supreme Court, which was thereafter denied on November 14, 2005. AE I.

19. On September 23, 2004, during the pendency of the appeal to the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, Mr. Smith submitted another claim petition which was assigned to WCJ...

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