STATEWIDE GRIEVANCE COMMITTEE
Veronica Summo, Complainant vs. John C. Kucej, Respondent
Grievance Complaint #99-0842
Pursuant to Practice Book ß2-35, 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 11, 2000. The hearing addressed the record of the complaint filed on April 3, 2000, and the probable cause determination filed by the Waterbury Judicial District Grievance Panel on June 12, 2000, finding that there existed probable cause that the Respondent violated Rules 1.7(b)(1) and (2), and 1.9(1) and (2) of the Rules of Professional Conduct.
Notice of the hearing was mailed to the Complainant and to the Respondent on August 23, 2000. Both the Complainant and the Respondent appeared and testified at the hearing. The Respondent was represented by Attorney Richard Albrecht.
This reviewing committee finds the following facts by clear and convincing evidence:
In or around January, 2000, the Complainant and her husband retained the Respondent to represent both of them in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition. Thereafter, the Respondent met with the Complainant and her husband and represented them at the first meeting of creditors in March of 2000. There were no objections to the proposed discharge by any of the creditors at the March, 2000 bankruptcy hearing. Thereafter, in May of 2000, the Complainant and her husband were discharged in bankruptcy.
Approximately two weeks after the March, 2000 bankruptcy hearing, the Complainant was served with a dissolution of marriage complaint by her husband. The counsel of record for the Complainantís husband in the dissolution of marriage action was the Respondent.
This reviewing committee also considered the following:
The Respondent testified that he believed that the Complainant consented to him representing her husband based upon a discussion with the Complainant and her husband during the pendency of the bankruptcy matter. The Complainant denied any discussion with the Respondent regarding a dissolution of marriage.
This reviewing committee concludes by clear and convincing evidence that the Respondent violated Rule 1.7(b). At the time that the Respondent had the Complainant served with dissolution of marriage papers on behalf of her husband, the Respondent represented the Complainant in a bankruptcy matter. The bankruptcy was not discharged until May of 2000, after the papers were served. The Respondentís obligations to the Complainant in the bankruptcy matter and to the Complainantís husband in the dissolution of marriage action created a conflict that should have been avoided by the Respondent not accepting the Complainantís husbandís dissolution of marriage case.
While this reviewing committee concludes that at the time of the conflict, the Complainant was still a client of the Respondent and, accordingly, we cannot conclude that Rule 1.9 of the Rules of Professional Conduct was violated since that rule applies to former clients, it is the decision of this reviewing committee that the Respondent be reprimanded for his violation of Rule 1.7(b) of the Rules of Professional Conduct.
Attorney Randy L. Cohen
Attorney Raymond B. Rubens
Mr. Michael W. Goodman