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Disciplinary Reporter Case Digest

Attorney ID 41015
Attorney Name Wheeler, III, Lacy R.
DBP Docket No. 59 DB 1995
Supreme Court Docket No. 322 D.D. No. 3
County Allegheny
Disciplinary Counsel Cory John Cirelli
Counsel for Respondent N/A
Decision Date 2003-07-29
Effective Date 2003-07-29
Case Digest Petitioner filed a second Petition for Reinstatement to the Bar of Pennsylvania. Initially, he had been suspended FROM the practice of law for one year and one day, by ORDER of the Supreme Court dated May 6, 1997. In 1992 Petitioner was retained to perform collection work for a residential housing cooperative. In the course of collecting accounts, Petitioner failed to timely notify the client of his receipt of, and to promptly remit to the client, funds that belonged to the client. Prior to the first day of the disciplinary hearing, Petitioner contacted a witness who had been subpoenaed by the Office of Disciplinary Counsel and told her to disregard the subpoena. He also failed to appear for the second day of the hearing. Prior to Petitioner's filing of his first Petition for Reinstatement, the Office of Disciplinary Counsel learned that Petitioner was a party to a URESA action. Petitioner's repeated conduct FROM 1987 through 1995 was designed to avoid compliance with his support obligation and necessitated the filing of petitions for contempt and the issuance of bench warrants for his failure to pay support and his failure to appear for hearings in that matter. Several times Petitioner was apprehended in another court room when he should have been before the judge who presided over his support case. A high-priority arrest warrant was issued and Petitioner was apprehended in Philadelphia after fleeing FROM constables in an attempt to elude arrest. Petitioner's first Petition for Reinstatement was denied because of his history of flouting court orders and his continuous failure to respect the legal system. It was determined that Petitioner's actions prior to his filing of the Petition for Reinstatement "namely, the warrant-dodging and the unseemly arrest reflects poorly upon his moral fitness. Essentially, Petitioner spent 15 years avoiding his court-ordered support obligations. These efforts included repeated and consistent failures to appear in court, establishing new addresses without informing the court, and finally, in 1998, a street chase in Philadelphia which culminated in Petitioner's arrest and incarceration for criminal contempt."
Rule Violation(s) None
Discipline Imposed Reinstatement granted.
Points of Law "Petitioner has presented evidence that he is rehabilitated and ready to resume the practice of law. He gave a detailed statement of his current life to the Hearing Committee. He has made a concerted effort to turn his life around by attending counseling, repairing relationships with his children, and moving to Philadelphia where he has the support of family and friends. He has gained insight into his past actions and is sincerely remorseful for the professional misconduct and the personal behavior which have proved to be stumbling blocks in his life."
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