STATEWIDE GRIEVANCE COMMITTEE
Steven Edelman, Complainant vs. Paul M. Ngobeni, Respondent
Grievance Complaint #05-0814
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 January 4, 2006.† The hearing addressed the record of the complaint filed on August 30, 2005, and the probable cause determination filed by the New Britain Judicial District, and Judicial District of Hartford for Geographical Area 12 and the towns of Avon, Bloomfield, Canton, Farmington and West Hartford Grievance Panel on November 1, 2005, finding that there existed probable cause that the Respondent violated Rules 1.1, 1.3, 1.4, and 8.1(2) of the Rules of Professional Conduct and Practice Book Section 2-32(a)(1).††††††
Notice of the hearing was mailed to the Complainant, to the Office of the Chief Disciplinary Counsel, and to the Respondent on December 2, 2005.† Pursuant to Practice Book Section 2-35(d), Chief Disciplinary Counsel Mark A. Dubois pursued the matter before this reviewing committee.† The Complainant appeared at the hearing and testified. The Respondent did not appear.
This reviewing committee finds the following facts by clear and convincing evidence:
In August of 2001, the Complainant retained the Respondent to represent him in two civil rights cases in federal court.† The Complainant paid the Respondent $7,500.00 for the representation.† By 2004, both cases had been dismissed for failure to prosecute.† The Complainant learned of the dismissals through his own efforts.†
Thereafter, the Complainant and the Respondent attempted to restore the Complainantís cases to the docket without success.† The Respondent did not file an answer to this grievance complaint.
This reviewing committee finds the following violations of the Rules of Professional Conduct and the Practice Book by clear and convincing evidence:
The Respondentís failure to prosecute the Complainantís cases with reasonable competence and diligence constituted violations of Rules 1.1 and 1.3 of the Rules of Professional Conduct.† The Respondentís failure to inform the Complainant of the dismissal of his cases constituted violations of Rules 1.4(a) and (b) of the Rules of Professional Conduct.† Charging the Complainant a $7,500.00 retainer, and failing to prosecute the Complainantís cases, rendered the Respondentís fee unreasonable in violation of Rule 1.5(a) of the Rules of Professional Conduct.† The Respondentís failure to file an answer to this grievance complaint constituted violations of Rule 8.1(2) of the Rules of Professional Conduct and Practice Book Section 2-32(a)(1).
Accordingly, this reviewing committee orders the Disciplinary Counselís Office to file a presentment against the Respondent in Superior Court for the imposition of whatever discipline the Court deems appropriate.
DECISION DATE: 3/10/06
Attorney Noble F. Allen
Attorney Howard M. Gould