STATEWIDE GRIEVANCE COMMITTEE
Joseph Salonia, Complainant v. Walter G. Johnson, Respondent
Grievance Complaint #01-0671
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 August 7, 2002. The hearing addressed the record of the complaint filed on February 1, 2002, and the probable cause determination filed by the New Haven Judicial District, Geographical Area 7 & the Towns of Branford, East Haven, Guilford, Madison and North Branford Grievance Panel on May 16, 2002, finding that there existed probable cause that the Respondent violated Rule 1.3 of the Rules of Professional Conduct and Practice Book §2-32.
Notice of the hearing was mailed to the Complainant and to the Respondent on June 25, 2002. Neither the Complainant nor the Respondent appeared at the hearing. As such, this reviewing committee considered the matter on the written record.
This reviewing committee finds the following facts by clear and convincing evidence:
In 1996, the Complainant hired the Respondent to represent him in relation to a workers’ compensation claim, which had been pending since 1962. The Respondent was to settle the case in December of 2001. According to the Complainant, he was notified that the Respondent was "disbarred" and does not know the Respondent's whereabouts. This reviewing committee notes that the Respondent was not disbarred, but rather was suspended for a period of eighteen months effective October 11, 2001.
The Respondent did not file an answer to the complaint.
This reviewing committee finds the following violations of the Rules of Professional Conduct and the Practice Book by clear and convincing evidence:
The Respondent violated Rule 1.3 of the Rules of Professional Conduct by failing to act with reasonable diligence and promptness in representing the Complainant. The Complainant’s workers’ compensation claim has been pending for approximately forty years, and the Respondent has represented the Complainant for the last five years. The Respondent was to settle the claim in December of 2001; however, the Respondent has not informed the Complainant whether his claim settled. Moreover, the Complainant does not know the Respondent's whereabouts. Additionally, by failing to file a timely response to this grievance complaint without good cause shown, the Respondent violated Practice Book §2-32. Accordingly, this reviewing committee orders that the Respondent be presented to the Superior Court for the imposition of whatever discipline the court may deem appropriate.
Attorney Rita A. Steinberger
Attorney Dominick J. Rutigliano
Mr. William J. Carroll