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Disciplinary Reporter Case Digest

Attorney ID 45836
Attorney Name Rentschler , Michael D.
DBP Docket No. 33 and 127 DB 2009
Supreme Court Docket No. 1626 DD No. 3
County Cumberland
Disciplinary Counsel Edwin W. Frese, Jr.
Counsel for Respondent Samuel C. Stretton
Decision Date 2010-08-27
Effective Date 2010-08-27
Case Digest After being paid a non-refundable flat fee of $1,500 to obtain a lawful permanent resident of the United States status for Mrs. Client based upon her marriage to Mr. Client, and having the clients sign blank immigration forms, the Respondent failed to take any further action and failed to communicate with his clients for a period of six months when they retained other counsel who demanded a refund of the $1,500 fee. Respondent refunded the fee three months later after receiving a DB-7 Letter. Respondent failed to deposit the $1,500 into an IOLTA account and withdraw it only as earned. Two months after being retained in the immigration matter, Mr. Client retained Respondent and paid him a flat fee of $800 relative to harassment by fellow employees. The Respondent wrote a three-sentence letter to the employer and made one phone call but did nothing further and failed to respond to the client’s attempts at communication. Respondent claimed he earned the $800 and refused to refund any portion thereof. In the third matter, Respondent was appointed to represent a criminal defendant on appeal. While Respondent timely filed the Notice of Appeal, he failed to timely file the 1925(b) Statement of Matters Complained of on Appeal, failed to timely file for an extension of time to file an appellate brief, and failed to file an appellate brief even though granted an extension, and failed to timely file another request for an extension. Respondent also failed to keep his client advised of the status of the appeal or respond to the client’s requests for information, resulting in the client’s request for the appointment of new counsel. The Superior Court remanded the case for the appointment of new counsel. For similar neglect and failure to communicate, Respondent received an informal admonition in 2005 on another immigration matter and a private reprimand in 2008 in two other matters. Respondent was cooperative and sincerely remorseful. He presented the testimony of certified addictions counselor who testified that the Respondent suffered from depression during the period of time of the misconduct and self-medicated with alcohol, and that there was a direct causal link between the depression and alcohol abuse and the misconduct, satisfying Braun. The hearing committee recommended a stayed six-month suspension with two years of probation. The Board recommended a stayed year and a day suspension with two years of probation with a sobriety monitor, and other conditions.
Rule Violation(s) 1.3, 1.4(a)(3) 1.4(a)(4), 1.15(a), 1.15(b), 1.15(e) and 1.15(g), 8.4(a); Not found: 1.1, 1.5(a), 1.16(d), 8.4(c) and (d).
Discipline Imposed Suspension for a year and one day, stayed, with 2 years probation, sobriety monitor
Points of Law The Disciplinary Board specifically concluded that the Respondent did not violate RPCs 1.1, 1.5(a), 1.16(d), 8.4(c) and (d).
Report/Opinion Download