Disciplinary Reporter Case Digest

Attorney ID 35906
Attorney Name Neil, David McGregor
DBP Docket No. 215 DB 2003
Supreme Court Docket No. No. 867 DD No. 3
County Erie
Disciplinary Counsel Mark G. Weitzman
Counsel for Respondent None
Decision Date 2004-12-22
Effective Date 2005-01-22
Case Digest By Order of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, dated March 25, 2003, effective April 24, 2003, Respondent was transferred to inactive status for failure to comply with the annual C.L.E. requirements. Although Respondent had knowledge of his transfer to inactive status, he continued to represent three clients in on-going legal matters, accepted a retainer of $400 from a new client, and represented three new clients in legal matters. Respondent also failed to comply with Rule 217, Pa.R.D.E., which required him to notify all pertinent parties of his transfer to inactive status and withdraw from pending court matters. Disciplinary Counsel filed a Petition For Adjudication Of Contempt with the Supreme Court requesting, in part, that the Court issue a Rule upon Respondent to show cause why he should not be held in contempt for willful violations of the Court's March 25, 2003 Order. The Supreme Court issued a Rule To Show Cause upon Respondent. Respondent did not file a response. Disciplinary Counsel filed a Petition To Make Rule To Show Cause Absolute and by Order, dated December 29, 2003, the Supreme Court granted the Petition For Adjudication of Contempt and held Respondent in contempt for failing to comply with the March 25, 2003 Order. The Court referred the matter to the Disciplinary Board for a hearing to recommend the appropriate sanction. On July 12, 2004, a three member panel of the Disciplinary Board conducted a hearing solely on the issue of the appropriate sanctions to be imposed for Respondent's contempt of the Supreme Court. Respondent was personally served with the notice of the hearing but did not appear for the hearing. Respondent left a message on Disciplinary Counsel's voice mail on July 9, 2004 stating his intent not to appear. In that message, Respondent stated that he had "no excuse" for his actions, admitted that he had "screwed up" and stated that "what will happen will happen." The message was played at the hearing for the Board panel to hear. A transcript of the message was admitted into evidence at the hearing and a compact disk of the message was provided to the Board. The Board panel concurred with Disciplinary Counsel's recommendation that Respondent be suspended from the practice of law for one year and one day. The Board panel stated that Respondent's failure to appear for the hearing and his disciplinary history of two informal admonitions were aggravating circumstances. The Supreme Court concurred with that recommendation and by Order dated December 22, 2004, the Supreme Court suspended the Respondent for a period of one year and one day.
Rule Violation(s) Rule 217, Pa.R.D.E.
Discipline Imposed Suspension for one year and one day.
Points of Law Practicing law while on inactive status, in knowing violation of a Supreme Court Order, warrants a Respondent being held in contempt. A suspension for a year and a day is the appropriate disciplinary sanction for being held in contempt by the Supreme Court for practicing law while on inactive status. Not appearing for the hearing before the Board Panel and prior discipline are aggravating circumstances.
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