STATEWIDE GRIEVANCE COMMITTEE
Terry Chetelat, Complainant vs. Richard Gifford, Respondent
Grievance Complaint #02-0012
Pursuant to Practice Book ß2-35, the undersigned, duly-appointed reviewing committee of the Statewide Grievance Committee, conducted a hearing at the Superior Court, 95 Washington Street, Hartford, Connecticut on December 5, 2002. The hearing addressed the record of the complaint filed on July 5, 2002, and the probable cause determination filed by the New Britain Judicial District and the Judicial District of Hartford for Geographical Area 12 and the towns of Avon, Bloomfield, Canton, Farmington and West Hartford Grievance Panel on October 17, 2002, finding that there existed probable cause that the Respondent violated Rule 1.4 of the Rules of Professional Conduct.
Notice of the hearing was mailed to the Complainant and to the Respondent on October 22, 2002. The Complainant appeared and gave testimony. The Respondent did not appear at the hearing.
This reviewing committee finds the following facts by clear and convincing evidence:
The Complainant retained the Respondent in January of 1993 to represent him in a workersí compensation matter. The last hearing in connection with the Complainantís case was held in 1999. The Complainant, thereafter, spoke with the Respondent once in the year 2000 regarding a deposition the Respondent was to schedule. The deposition was never scheduled and the Complainant has not heard from the Respondent since.
The Respondent was suspended from the practice of law for a period of one year, effective January 23, 2002 and turned over all of his active files, including the Complainantís file, to the trustee.
This reviewing committee also considered the following:
In a response to the complaint, the Respondent stated that if the Complainant did not receive his file, he should contact the trustee.
The Complainant testified that he became aware of the Respondentís suspension in July or August of 2002. Although the Complainant spoke with the trustee, he did not receive his file. The Complainant advised this reviewing committee that he would contact the trustee to obtain his file.
This reviewing committee concludes by clear and convincing evidence that the Respondent failed to keep the Complainant reasonably informed regarding the status of his workersí compensation case, in violation of Rule 1.4(a) of the Rules of Professional Conduct. The Respondentís total lack of communication with the Complainant for over two years, and his failure to provide any reason for failing to do so in his answer to the grievance complaint leads us to this conclusion. The Respondentís abandonment of the Complainantís case, his failure to address this issue in his answer to the complaint, and his failure to appear at this hearing raises serious concerns to this reviewing committee. Accordingly, we order that the Respondent be presented to the Superior Court for the imposition of whatever discipline the court deems appropriate.
Attorney Vincent M. DeAngelo
Attorney Kathleen D. Stingle
Dr. Frank Regan