News & Notices

Orders of Discipline & Disability February 2024

 

Michigan Bar Journal

 

INTERIM SUSPENSION PURSUANT TO MCR 9.115(H)(1)

Julie D. Anderson, P62517, Ferndale, by the Attorney Discipline Board Tri-County Hearing Panel #53. Interim suspension, effective Dec. 26, 2023.

The respondent failed to appear for the Dec. 12, 2023, hearing and satisfactory proofs were entered into the record that she possessed actual notice of the proceedings. As a result, the hearing panel issued an Order of Suspension Pursuant to MCR 9.115(H)(1) [Failure to Appear] effective Dec. 26, 2023, and until further order of the panel or the board.

AUTOMATIC INTERIM SUSPENSION

W. Dane Carey, P79898, Grayling, effective May 12, 2023.

On May 12, 2023, the respondent was convicted by guilty plea of Controlled Substance — Possession of Methamphetamine/Ecstasy in violation of MCL 333.74032B1 and Computers — Internet — Communicating with Another to Commit Crime in violation of MCL 750.145D2D, both felony offenses, in a matter titled People of the State of Michigan v. William Dane Carey, 86th District Court for the County of Grand Traverse, Case No. 23-9019-FY-1.1 In accordance with MCR 9.120(B)(1), the respondent’s license to practice law in Michigan was automatically suspended on the date of his felony convictions.

This matter was assigned to a hearing panel for further proceedings. The interim suspension will remain in effect until the effective date of an order filed by a hearing panel under MCR 9.115(J).

1. The respondent pleaded guilty to two added felony counts, as referenced above, with the understanding that upon the successful completion of one year of the court’s drug court program, both offenses would be reduced to Use of an Analogue in violation of MCL 3337404(2)(b) and Use of a Computer to Commit Misdemeanor in violation of MCL 752.797(3)(a), both misdemeanor offenses.

AUTOMATIC INTERIM SUSPENSION

Glenn Phillip Franklin III, P68263, Southfield, effective Nov. 1, 2023. On Nov. 1, 2023, the respondent was convicted by guilty verdict of conspiracy to commit wire fraud in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1349 in a matter titled United States of America v. John Angelo and Glenn Phillip Franklin, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Michigan, Southern Division, Case No. 4:20-CR-20599. In accordance with MCR 9.120(B)(1), the respondent’s license to practice law in Michigan was automatically suspended on the date of his felony conviction.

Upon the filing of a certified judgment of conviction, this matter will be assigned to a hearing panel for further proceedings. The interim suspension will remain in effect until the effective date of an order filed by a hearing panel under MCR 9.115(J).

DISBARMENT AND RESTITUTION

George D. Gostias, P73774, Livonia, by the Attorney Discipline Board Tri-County Hearing Panel #10. Disbarment, effective Dec. 12, 2023.1

After proceedings conducted pursuant to MCR 9.115, the panel found by default that the respondent committed professional misconduct as alleged in three-count formal complaint. Specifically, with regard to count 1, the panel found that the respondent accepted legal fees to represent a client in a criminal matter pending before Wayne County Circuit Court although his license to practice law in Michigan was suspended for 180 days, effective May 27, 2022, in a separate, unrelated disciplinary matter. The panel further found that the respondent never notified his client of his suspension; advised his client that he would attend court hearings scheduled in his matter but did not, in fact, attend any of the hearings; and abandoned the representation.

With regard to count 2, the panel found that the respondent failed to answer a Request for Investigation served on him by the grievance administrator on Dec. 16, 2022. Finally, with regard to count 3, the panel found that the respondent failed to provide notice of his 180-day suspension, effective May 27, 2022, to his clients and all tribunals and parties in every matter in which he was representing a client in litigation; failed to file an affidavit of compliance as required by MCR 9.119(C) with the grievance administrator and the Attorney Discipline Board; and held himself out as authorized to practice law on his Facebook and Twitter social media accounts.

Based on respondent’s default and the evidence presented by the grievance administrator, the panel found that the respondent committed misconduct as alleged in the formal complaint in its entirety. Specifically, the panel found that the respondent neglected a legal matter in violation of MRPC 1.1(c) (count 1); failed to seek the lawful objectives of the client in violation of MRPC 1.2(a) (count 1); failed to act with reasonable diligence and promptness in representing a client in violation of MRPC 1.3 (count 1); failed to keep the client reasonably informed about the status of the matter and comply with reasonable requests for information in violation of MRPC 1.4(a) (count 1); failed to explain a matter to the extent reasonably necessary to permit the client to make informed decisions regarding representation in violation of MRPC 1.4(b) (count 1); failed to timely refund an unearned fee in violation of MRPC 1.16(d) (count 1); failed to expedite litigation in violation of MRPC 3.2 (count 1); practiced law while not licensed to do so in violation of MRPC 5.5(a) (count 1); kept a public social media site holding himself out as an attorney after being suspended pursuant to Order(s) of Discipline in violation of MRPC 7.1(a) (count 3); knowingly failed to respond to or cooperate with a lawful demand for information from a disciplinary authority in violation of MRPC 8.1(a)(2) (counts 2-3); engaged in conduct involving dishonesty fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation where such conduct reflects adversely on the lawyer’s honesty, trustworthiness, or fitness as a lawyer in violation of MRPC 8.4(b) (count 1); engaged in conduct that violates the Rules of Professional Conduct in violation of MRPC 8.4(a) and MCR 9.104(4) (counts 1-2); engaged in conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice in violation of MRPC 8.4(c) and MCR 9.104(1) (counts 1-2); engaged in conduct that exposes the legal profession or the courts to obloquy, contempt, censure, or reproach in violation of MCR 9.104(2) (counts 1-3); engaged in conduct that is contrary to justice, ethics, honesty, or good morals in violation of MCR 9.104(3) (counts 1-2); failed to answer a Request for Investigation in violation of MCR 9.104(7), MCR 9.113(A), and (B)(2) (count 2); engaged in conduct in violation of an Order(s) of Discipline in violation of MCR 9.104(9); failed to notify his client of his suspension from the practice of law in violation of MCR 9.119(A) (counts 1 and 3); failed to file with the tribunal and all parties a notice of the attorney’s disqualification from the practice of law in violation of MCR 9.119(B) (count 3); failed to file affidavits of compliance with the grievance administrator and the Attorney Discipline within 14 days of the Order(s) of Suspension in violation of MCR 9.119(C) (count 3); engaged in the practice of law in violation of MCR 9.119(E)(1) (count 1); had contact with clients in violation of MCR 9.119(E)(2) (count 1); and held himself out as an attorney in violation of MCR 9.119(E)(4) (count 1).

The panel ordered that the respondent be disbarred and pay restitution in the total amount of $11,950. Costs were assessed in the amount of $1,715.08.

1. The respondent has been continuously suspended from the practice of law in Michigan since May 27, 2022. See Notice of Suspension and Restitution, issued May 27, 2022, in Grievance Administrator v George D. Gostias, 22-7-GA.

SUSPENSION WITH CONDITIONS (BY CONSENT)

Suzanna Kostovski, P39535, Detroit, by the Attorney Discipline Board Tri-County Hearing Panel #5. Suspension, 90 days, effective Dec. 14, 2023.

The respondent and the grievance administrator filed a Stipulation for Consent Order of Discipline pursuant to MCR 9.115(F)(5) which was approved by the Attorney Grievance Commission and accepted by the hearing panel. The stipulation contained the respondent’s admissions to all factual allegations and the respondent’s plea of no contest to all allegations of professional misconduct set forth in the four-count formal complaint.

Specifically, the panel found in count 1 that while acting as appointed counsel in post-conviction proceedings, the respondent communicated sporadically with her client and failed to file pleadings as instructed by the court. In count 2, the panel found that while acting as appointed appellate counsel, the respondent had minimal communication with her client and filed a delayed application for leave to appeal brief that was nonconforming in that it failed to contain citations to the trial court record as required.

The panel found in count 3 that while acting as substitute appellate counsel, the respondent failed to file a supplemental brief provided to her by her client in July 2019 until April 2020, at which time the respondent had to also file a motion to file a late brief. The motion was denied by the Court of Appeals in part because it did not provide any explanation for the delay and did not cite any law. The panel found in count 4 that while acting as appointed counsel in post-conviction proceedings, the respondent failed to communicate with her client, failed to take any action on his behalf for 14 months, and eventually had to be replaced by the State Appellate Defender’s Office.

Based on the respondent’s admissions, plea of no contest, and the stipulation of the parties, the panel found that the respondent handled a legal matter without preparation adequate in the circumstances in violation of MRPC 1.1(b) (counts 2-3); neglected a legal matter entrusted to the lawyer in violation of MRPC 1.1(c) (counts 1 and 4); failed to seek the lawful objectives of a client through reasonably available means permitted by law in violation of MRPC 1.2(a) (counts 1-4); failed to act with reasonable diligence and promptness in violation of MRPC 1.3 (counts 1-4); failed to keep a client reasonably informed about the status of a matter and comply with reasonable requests for information in violation of MRPC 1.4(a) (counts 1-4); failed to explain a matter to the extent reasonably necessary to permit the client to make informed decisions regarding the representation in violation of MRPC 1.4(b) (counts 1-4); violated or attempted to violate the Rules of Professional Conduct in violation of MRPC 8.4(a) (counts 1-4); engaged in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice in violation of MCR 9.104(1) and MRPC 8.4(c) (counts 1-4); engaged in conduct that exposes the legal profession or the courts to obloquy, contempt, censure, or reproach in violation of MCR 9.104(2) (counts 1-4); and engaged in conduct contrary to justice, ethics, honesty, or good morals in violation of MCR 9.104(3) (counts 1-4).

In accordance with the stipulation of the parties, the hearing panel ordered that the respondent’s license to practice law in Michigan be suspended for 90 days and that she be subject to conditions relevant to the established misconduct, effective Dec. 1, 2023. The respondent subsequently filed a motion requesting that the order of suspension be amended to extend the effective date to Dec. 14, 2023. The grievance administrator 5752 had no objection. The panel granted the respondent’s motion in an order issued Dec. 1, 2023. Total costs were assessed in the amount of $1,047.96.

REPRIMAND (BY CONSENT)

Gregory J. Rohl, P39185, West Bloomfield, by the Attorney Discipline Board Tri-County Hearing Panel #61. Reprimand, effective Dec. 27, 2023.

The respondent and the grievance administrator filed a Stipulation for Consent Order of Discipline in accordance with MCR 9.115(F)(5) which was approved by the Attorney Grievance Commission and accepted by the hearing panel.

The stipulation contained the respondent’s admission to all factual allegations and allegations of misconduct set forth in the entire formal complaint. Specifically, the respondent admitted that he failed to properly supervise employees in his office, which resulted in a five-year delay in providing a client with settlement funds she was entitled to receive. Although the funds were maintained in the respondent’s IOLTA since they were originally deposited, the client was not provided her funds until she filed a request for investigation against the respondent.

Based on the respondent’s admission and the parties’ stipulation, the panel found that the respondent committed professional misconduct when he failed to properly supervise employees in his office in violation of MRPC 5.1(b) and engaged in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice in violation of MCR 9.104(1) and MRPC 8.4(c).

In accordance with the stipulation of the parties, the hearing panel ordered that the respondent be reprimanded. Costs were assessed in the amount of $760.21.

REINSTATEMENT

On Nov. 13, 2023, Berrien County Hearing Panel #1 entered an Order of Suspension (By Consent) suspending the respondent from the practice law in Michigan for 30 days, effective Dec. 2, 2023. On Jan. 2, 2024, the respondent filed an affidavit pursuant to MCR 9.123(A) attesting that he has fully complied with all requirements of the panel’s order and will continue to comply with the order until and unless reinstated. The board was advised that the grievance administrator has no objection to the affidavit, and the board being otherwise advised;

NOW THEREFORE,

IT IS ORDERED that the respondent, Ernest J. Walker, is REINSTATED to the practice of law in Michigan, effective Jan. 3, 2024.