STATEWIDE GRIEVANCE COMMITTEE
John S. Bennett, Complainant vs. JamesA. J. McGee, Respondent
Grievance Complaint #00-0599
Pursuant to Practice Book §2-35, the undersigned, duly-appointed reviewing committee of the Statewide Grievance Committee, conducted a hearing at the Superior Court, 1061 Main Street, Bridgeport, Connecticut on October 10, 2001. The hearing addressed the record of the complaint filed on January 29, 2001, and the probable cause determination filed by the Middlesex Judicial District Grievance Panel on June 27, 2001, finding that there existed probable cause that the Respondent violated Rules 3.3(a)(1), and 8.4(1), (2), (3) and (4) of the Rules of Professional Conduct and Practice Book §2-32(a)(1).
Notice of the hearing was mailed to the Complainant and to the Respondent on August 30, 2001. The Complainant appeared and testified at the hearing. The Respondent did not appear at the hearing.
This reviewing committee finds the following facts by clear and convincing evidence:
The Respondent represented the sellers of real estate located in Old Saybrook, Connecticut in a closing that occurred on or about September 16, 1999. At the closing, the Respondent signed an indemnity and undertaking agreement in his own name and as attorney for one of the owners, who was a minor on the day of the closing, promising to pay off an existing mortgage on the subject property. Following the closing, however, the Respondent did not pay off the mortgage but made periodic payments on the outstanding loan in order to hide the fact that he had not paid off the loan. Eventually, the mortgagee commenced foreclosure proceedings on the property when the Respondent failed to continue making payments on the mortgage. Additionally, because one of the owners of the property was a minor, the Respondent was required to submit documentation to the probate court regarding the sale of the property. The Respondent, in a handwritten accounting regarding the sale of the property, indicated that the subject mortgage had been paid.
The Respondent did not answer the grievance complaint. Additionally, the Office of the Statewide Bar Counsel caused a subpoena to be served upon the Respondent on or around October 1, 2001 by State Marshal Joseph Passanesi. The Respondent did not appear at the hearing although he was served with a subpoena.
This reviewing committee concludes by clear and convincing evidence that the Respondent violated the Rules of Professional Conduct. Although he was required to pay off the existing mortgage as part of the sale of the property in Old Saybrook, the Respondent failed to do so in violation of Rules 1.15(b) and 8.4(3) of the Rules of Professional Conduct. The Respondent’s subsequent misrepresentations to the probate court in the accounting prepared on behalf of the minor owner violated Rule 3.3(a)(1) and 8.4(1), (3) and (4) of the Rules of Professional Conduct. The Respondent’s failure to appear for our hearing despite being served with a subpoena violated Rule 8.4(4) of the Rules of Professional Conduct. Finally, the Respondent’s failure to answer the grievance complaint violated Practice Book §2-32(a)(1).
This reviewing committee does not conclude by clear and convincing evidence that the Respondent violated Rule 8.4(2) of the Rules of Professional Conduct since at the time of our hearing there was no evidence that the Respondent has been convicted of a crime associated with the subject transaction described in the grievance complaint.
It is the decision of this reviewing committee that the Respondent be presented to the Superior Court for whatever discipline the court deems appropriate.
Attorney Raymond B. Rubens
Attorney Rita A. Steinberger
Reverend Meredith Payton