Texas grievance lawyer dating party
The defendant became friendly with Michael and Terry and socialized together as a threesome.
Thereafter, in June, 2010, the defendant started seeing Terry alone, going on walks in the park together, going to movies, for drinks and began ‘dating.’“The defendant had an ‘intimate’ relationship with Terry․ He believed he had an obligation to help her proceed with her divorce, and promote her welfare and make her a happier person.
The defendant testified that he had a retainer agreement with Terry that called for his standard charging rate of either 0 or 0 per hour, and that Terry had paid him a retainer of ,000—00 of which went to his fees, and 00 of which was applied to other fees and costs.
He also stated that he had put his bankruptcy practice on hold so that he could devote his full attention to the Aliano case.
The facts show that the defendant knowingly injected himself into the personal life of Terry Aliano, and into the marital status of her and her husband, Michael Aliano. Rule 1.7 of the Rules of Professional Conduct provides: “(a) Except as provided in subsection (b), a lawyer shall not represent a client if the representation involves a concurrent conflict of interest.
He became more than her friend, but developed an ‘intimate’ relationship with her, and they began to ‘date.’ He encouraged her to go forward with her divorce against Michael ․ and filed an appearance on her behalf in lieu of prior counsel. A concurrent conflict of interest exists if: (1) the representation of one client will be directly adverse to another client; or (2) there is a significant risk that the representation of one or more clients will be materially limited by the lawyer's responsibilities to another client, a former client or a third person or by a personal interest of the lawyer.“(b) Notwithstanding the existence of a concurrent conflict of interest under subsection (a), a lawyer may represent a client if: (1) the lawyer reasonably believes that the lawyer will be able to provide competent and diligent representation to each affected client; (2) the representation is not prohibited by law; (3) the representation does not involve the assertion of a claim by one client against another client represented by the lawyer in the same litigation or the same proceeding before any tribunal; and (4) each affected client gives informed consent, confirmed in writing.”The court found, inter alia, that the defendant specifically violated rule 1.7(a)(2), which, in this case, required the court to have found by clear and convincing evidence that there was a significant risk that the defendant's representation of Terry Aliano would be materially limited by his personal interest.
So, it's going to mitigate your financial risk.” The day after this conversation, Terry asked the defendant to file an appearance on her behalf.
The defendant did not pay Terry for her paralegal services, and he did not recall if the quid pro quo was written into his retainer agreement.
Thus, the court concludes that because of his ‘personal interest,’ the plaintiff has proven, by clear and convincing evidence, the violation by the defendant of rule 1.7(a)(2)․“The Rules of Professional Conduct also state that a lawyer shall not ‘[e]ngage in conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice’ ․ Rules of Professional Conduct 8–4(4).In this presentment filed by the plaintiff, Chief Disciplinary Counsel, alleging misconduct by the defendant, Attorney Zenas Zelotes, the defendant appeals from the judgment of the trial court concluding that he violated rules 1.7(a)(2) and 8.4(4) of the Rules of Professional Conduct (rule), and ordering that he be suspended from the practice of law for a period of five months.On appeal, the defendant claims that (1) the court's findings and the record evidence are inadequate to establish a concurrent conflict under rule 1.7(a)(2); (2) the court erred in finding that he violated rule 8.4(4); (3) he was denied due process of law because he did not have fair notice that his conduct could be considered professional misconduct; and (4) the court denied him the benefit of his affirmative defenses. The following facts, which were found by the trial court and which are not contested by the parties, and the court's conclusions in this case, inform our review.“The Superior Court possesses inherent authority to regulate attorney conduct and to discipline the members of the bar․ The judiciary has the power to admit attorneys to practice and to disbar them ․ to fix the qualifications of those to be admitted ․ and to define what constitutes the practice of law․ In the exercise of its disciplinary power, the Superior Court has adopted the Code of Professional Responsibility [now the Rules of Professional Conduct]․“Disciplinary proceedings are for the purpose of preserving the courts from the official ministration of persons unfit to practice in them․ The proceeding to disbar [or suspend] an attorney is neither a civil action nor a criminal proceeding, but is a proceeding sui generis, the object of which is not the punishment of the offender, but the protection of the court․ Once the complaint is made, the court controls the situation and procedure, in its discretion, as the interests of justice may seem to it to require․ [T]he power of the courts is left unfettered to act as situations, as they may arise, may seem to require, for efficient discipline of misconduct and the purging of the bar from the taint of unfit membership. 472, 478–79, 91 A.3d 932 (2014).“Additionally, because the applicable standard of proof for determining whether an attorney has violated the Rules of Professional Conduct is clear and convincing evidence ․ we must consider whether the [fact finder's] decision was based on clear and convincing evidence.” (Citation omitted.) Briggs v. When questioned by the court, however, he asserted that his conversations with Terry were privileged because he is an attorney.Such statutes as ours are not restrictive of the inherent powers which reside in courts to inquire into the conduct of their own officers, and to discipline them for misconduct․ In [disciplinary] proceedings ․ therefore, the attorney's relations to the tribunal and the character and purpose of the inquiry are such that unless it clearly appears that his rights have in some substantial way been denied him, the action of the court will not be set aside upon review․“[T]he clearly erroneous standard ․ is the preferable standard of review in attorney grievance appeals․ The clearly erroneous standard of review provides that [a] court's determination is clearly erroneous only in cases in which the record contains no evidence to support it, or in cases in which there is evidence, but the reviewing court is left with the definite and firm conviction that a mistake has been made.” (Citations omitted; internal quotation marks omitted.) Chief Dis ciplinary Counsel v. The defendant also testified that he started spending time alone with Terry in June, 2010, and they began dating, going on walks in a park together, going to movies, and going out for drinks.