STATEWIDE GRIEVANCE COMMITTEE
Sanders, Gale & Russell, Complainantvs. Scott Michael Schwartz, Respondent
Grievance Complaint #00-0327
Pursuant to Practice Book ß2-35, the undersigned, duly-appointed reviewing committee of the Statewide Grievance Committee, conducted a hearing at the Superior Court, 235 Church Street, New Haven, Connecticut on April 4, 2001. The hearing addressed the record of the complaint filed on October 19, 2000, and the probable cause determination filed by the New Britain/Hartford Judicial District, Geographical Areas 12 & 16 Grievance Panel on January 17, 2001, finding that there existed probable cause that the Respondent violated Rule 8.4 of the Rules of Professional Conduct.
Notice of the hearing was mailed to the Complainant and to the Respondent on March 2, 2001. Mr. Gerald Gale appeared on behalf of the Complainant and gave testimony. The Respondent did not appear at the hearing. The Complainant was advised that the third member of this reviewing committee, Attorney Lewis Hurwitz, was unavailable for the hearing. Although the Complainant waived the participation of Attorney Hurwitz, Attorney Hurwitz reviewed the record and the transcript of this hearing and participated in this decision because the Respondent was not present to waive the participation of Attorney Hurwitz.
This reviewing committee finds the following facts by clear and convincing evidence:
On or about December 28, 1999, the Respondent ordered two disks from the Complainant court reporter service. The Complainant provided the Respondent with the transcripts as requested. The Respondent, however, failed to pay the Complainantís bill despite numerous requests to do so. The Complainant filed a small claims action against the Respondent. On August 29, 2000, the court entered judgment against the Respondent in the amount of $83.00. The judgment ordered payment by September 19, 2000. As of the date of the hearing before this reviewing committee, the Respondent had failed to comply with the court order.
This reviewing committee also considered the following evidence:
In his written answer to the complaint, the Respondent maintained that the complaint should be dismissed pursuant to Practice Book ß2-32(a)(2)(H) because the complaint alleges non-payment of an incurred indebtedness which does not constitute a violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct.
This reviewing committee concludes by clear and convincing evidence that the Respondent engaged in ethical misconduct. The Respondentís failure to pay the Complainant for the services rendered in this case involves more than the nonpayment of an incurred indebtedness. It involves the Respondentís failure to abide by a court judgment. This reviewing committee finds that the Respondentís failure to honor a court judgment constitutes conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice, in violation of Rule 8.4(4) of the Rules of Professional Conduct. See Statewide Grievance Committee v. Diette, Superior Court, judicial district of Hartford/New Britain at Hartford, Docket No. 518046 (January 28, 1993, Aurigemma, J.).
Accordingly, this reviewing committee orders that the Respondent be reprimanded for violating Rule 8.4(4) of the Rules of Professional Conduct.
Attorney Carl Fortuna, Jr.
Attorney Lewis Hurwitz
Professor Paul Hawkshaw