Disciplinary Reporter Case Digest

Attorney ID 83997
Attorney Name Harbaugh, Heather L.
DBP Docket No. 192 DB 2005
Supreme Court Docket No. 1099 DD No. 3
County Centre
Disciplinary Counsel Joseph J. Huss
Counsel for Respondent None
Decision Date 2007-01-30
Effective Date 2006-02-07
Case Digest In the first matter, Respondent converted $33,951.82 belonging to her client and her clientís estranged husband. These funds were generated by the sale of the partiesí former marital domicile. Respondent deposited the funds into her IOLTA account in September 2003, pursuant to the partiesí written agreement, where she was to hold theses funds until the property aspects of the partiesí divorce were resolved. However, by August 2004 Respondent had converted all of these funds to her personal use and benefit, without the knowledge or permission of either her client or opposing counsel. During the period November 2004 through March 2005 Respondent ignored her clientís and opposing counselís repeated requests for information and an accounting in connection with these funds. After her receipt of a DB-7 Letter of Inquiry from Disciplinary Counsel, Respondent admitted her misconduct, and in August 2005 made full restitution. In the second matter, Respondent represented a client in connection with a multifaceted domestic relations case. Her client repeatedly requested that Respondent file a Petition for Modification of Custody, and a petition seeking to have his estranged wife held in contempt for violating the terms and conditions of the existing custody arrangement. Respondent told him that ďas for the custody modification, that Petition has been sent to the court.Ē In fact, no such Petition was filed by Respondent at any time during the course of her representation. Following the February 2005 resolution of a Petition for Emergency Relief filed by opposing counsel, no further action was taken in this matter by Respondent. Her client, who had previous difficulties communicating with Respondent, sent numerous requests for information and action to Respondent subsequent to February 2005. Respondent failed to answer any of these requests. As a result, he discharged Respondent in July 2005.
Rule Violation(s) RPC 1.3, 1.4(a), 1.4(b), 1.15(a), 1.15(b) and 8.4(c)
Discipline Imposed Four-year suspension retroactive to the date of temporary suspension
Points of Law
Report/Opinion Download