STATEWIDE GRIEVANCE COMMITTEE
Edward Bruce, Jr., Complainant vs. Douglas R. Daniels, Respondent
Grievance Complaint #99-0427
Pursuant to Practice Book ß2-35, the undersigned, duly-appointed reviewing committee of the Statewide Grievance Committee, conducted a hearing at the Superior Court, 1 Court Street, Middletown, Connecticut on October 12, 2000. The hearing addressed the record of the complaint filed on November 10, 1999, and the probable cause determination filed by the New Haven Judicial District, Geographical Area 6 Grievance Panel on May 11, 2000, finding that there existed probable cause that the Respondent violated Rules 1.4 and 1.15(b) of the Rules of Professional Conduct and Practice Book ß2-32(a)(1).
Notice of the hearing was mailed to the Complainant and to the Respondent on July 24, 2000. The Complainant appeared and testified before this reviewing committee. The Respondent appeared represented by Attorney Kenneth Votre and testified before this reviewing committee. Darlene Savard testified on the Complainantís behalf.
Reviewing committee member Attorney Kerry Tarpey was unavailable for the October 12, 2000 hearing in this matter. Since the Respondent did not waive Attorney Tarpeyís participation, Attorney Tarpey reviewed the record, including a transcript of the October 12, 2000 hearing, and participated in the deliberation in this matter.
This reviewing committee finds the following facts by clear and convincing evidence:
The Complainant retained the Respondent in May of 1999 regarding a domestic matter in which the Complainant wanted certain motions filed. The Complainant paid the Respondent $1,000.00, and the Respondent sent the Complainant a retainer agreement on May 28, 1999. After that, the Complainant had difficulty contacting the Respondent, who often failed to return the Complainantís telephone calls. No motions were filed, and no other actions were taken by the Respondent on the Complainantís behalf. The Complainant terminated the attorney-client relationship with the Respondent in July of 1999. The Respondent told the Complainant that he would refund the $1,000.00. This was not done, and again the Respondent failed to return the Complainantís telephone calls. In September and October of 1999, Darlene Savard contacted the Respondent a number of times on the Complainantís behalf. The Respondent again stated that he would refund the money immediately, but this was not done.
The Respondent did not file an answer to the grievance complaint. Just prior to the hearing in this matter, in October of 2000, the Respondent refunded the $1,000.00 to the Complainant.
The reviewing committee also considered the following:
The Respondent testified that he had a number of administrative and staffing problems in his office during 1998 and 1999, as well as some health problems, which contributed to the delay in providing the refund. He stated that he has taken steps to rectify these problems.
This reviewing committee concludes by clear and convincing evidence that the Respondent violated the Rules of Professional Conduct. The Respondentís constant failure to return telephone calls constitutes a lack of communication in violation of Rule 1.4(a). The Respondentís failure to timely refund the $1,000.00 constitutes a failure to promptly deliver funds to a client in violation of Rule 1.15(b). The Respondentís failure to file an answer to the grievance complaint constitutes a violation of Practice Book ß2-32(a)(1). It is the decision of this reviewing committee that the Respondent be presented to the Superior Court for the imposition of whatever discipline is deemed appropriate.
Attorney Kerry A. Tarpey
Attorney Lorraine D. Eckert
Ms. Mary Ellen Smith