Washington Lawyer - August 2017 - 42

Disciplinary Actions Taken by
the District of Columbia Court
of Appeals
Original Matters
In re Squire Padgett. Bar No.
206128. May 18, 2017. The D.C.
Court of Appeals disbarred
Padgett. Padgett, among other
things, engaged in intentional
misappropriation. Additionally, in
the course of representing at least
two clients, Padgett misappropriated client funds and engaged in
repeated acts of dishonesty and
misrepresentation by participating
in the scheme to present the false
settlement agreements as legitimate. Rules 1.3(a), 1.3(b)(2), 1.3(c),
1.4(a), 1.4(b), 1.5(b), 1.15(a), 1.15(d),
1.16(d), 5.1(a), 5.1(b), 5.1(c)(2), 8.4(b),
8.4(c), and 8.4(d), and D.C. Bar R. XI,
ยง (2)(b).
Reciprocal Matters
In re Peter R. Estes. Bar No. 358466.
May 18, 2017. In a reciprocal matter
from California, the D.C. Court of
Appeals imposed identical reciprocal discipline and disbarred
Estes. In California, Estes was disbarred by default after he chose
not to participate in disciplinary
proceedings after receiving notice
of charges, including unauthorized practice of law and willful
failure to respond to disciplinary
In re Laurence F. Johnson. Bar No.
934398. May 4, 2017. The D.C. Court
of Appeals suspended Johnson for
90 days, with 60 days stayed in
favor of one-year probation
subject to the conditions outlined
by the Board on Professional
Responsibility. Johnson was
charged with multiple violations
of the Maryland Lawyers' Rules of
Professional Conduct stemming
from two separate immigration

matters. In the first matter,
Johnson entered into a retainer
agreement with a client for the
purpose of helping her obtain
legal permanent residence in the
United States, a process which
included labor certification.
Johnson failed to meet a filing
deadline essential to the labor
certificate, sent a letter to the
client and her employer indicating
that her labor certification application had been closed, and offered
to start a new application "at a
large discount," but did not return
the client's retainer fee until after
an investigation into Johnson's
conduct had begun.
The second matter involved
Johnson's representation of a
client after the client was ordered
removed from the United States.
The client retained Johnson to
appeal this removal order, which
Johnson never appealed. Johnson
also deposited the advanced legal
fees into his office's operating
account without informed written
consent from the client, wrote the
client that he intended to terminate the representation but continued to bill him, and did not
inform the client that he failed to
file an appeal until a later date, at
which time Johnson also refunded
the client's retainer fee. Once the
client retained new counsel,
Johnson refused to provide a
letter stating that he failed to file
an appeal, believing it would harm
his own interests. Johnson
refunded the final amount of the
client's retainer fee after the initial
Specification of Charges was filed
in this case. Maryland Rules 1.1, 1.3,
1.4, 1.8(h)(1), 1.15(a), 1.15(c), 1.16(d),
8.4(c), and 8.4(d).
In re Edwin A. Quartey. Bar No.
460866. May 18, 2017. In a reciprocal matter from Maryland, the

D.C. Court of Appeals imposed
identical reciprocal discipline and
suspended Quartey for six months.
In Maryland, Quartey agreed that
the evidence was sufficient to
establish a pattern of neglect in
multiple client matters.
Disciplinary Actions Taken by
the Board on Professional
Original Matters
In re Phoebe Leslie Deak. Bar No.
454829. May 19, 2017. The Board on
Professional Responsibility recommends that the D.C. Court of
Appeals disbar Deak. Deak received
funds from a client to pay an expert
fee, deposited those funds into her
overdrawn operating account, and
never paid the expert, despite
repeated requests that she do so
and despite assurances on her part
that she would. Deak's misappropriation was at least reckless. Virginia
Rules 1.15(a)(1) and 1.15(b)(5) as made
applicable by D.C. Rule 8.5.
In re Leslie Silverman. Bar No.
448188. May 19, 2017. The Board on
Professional Responsibility recommends that the D.C. Court of
Appeals suspend Silverman for
three years with fitness. While
retained to represent clients in a
bankruptcy matter, Silverman
violated Rules 1.1(a) and (b) (by filing
the bankruptcy petition and associated schedules without her client's
signature or in reliance upon an
accurate POA, filing inaccurate and
incomplete schedules, and failing to
correct inaccuracies or supplemental schedules); Rule 3.1 (by filing
a Chapter 13 petition after it was
clear that she had no authority to
maintain a petition and there was
no factual basis for establishing her
client's eligibility for Chapter 13
relief); Rules 1.4(a) and (b) (by failing
to communicate and explain the

matter to the client); Rule 3.3(a)(1)
(by making false representations to
the Bankruptcy Court); and 8.4(d)
(by seriously interfering with the
administration of justice). In
addition, Silverman made false
statements to Disciplinary Counsel
in violation of Rules 8.1 and 8.4 and
gave false testimony at the disciplinary hearing.
In re John T. Szymkowicz, Bar No.
946079; John P. Szymkowicz, Bar No.
462146; Leslie Silverman, Bar No.
448188; and Robert King, Bar No.
922575. May 19, 2017. On remand
from the D.C. Court of Appeals
directing the Board of Professional
Responsibility to address conflict of
interest issues arising from the representation of a client challenging a
trust, the Board finds that Disciplinary
Counsel failed to prove by clear and
convincing evidence that either John
T. Szymkowicz or John P. Szymkowicz
violated Rule 1.7(b). The Board thus
recommends that the case against
the Szymkowiczes be dismissed. The
Board also finds that Disciplinary
Counsel proved by clear and convincing evidence that Leslie
Silverman and Robert King violated
Rule 1.7, but that they not be sanctioned because of the absence of
prior legal authority. If the court
adopts this approach, King should
nevertheless receive an informal
admonition for his violation of Rule
1.5, which was not the subject of the
court's remand order. If the court
decides that King and Silverman
should be sanctioned for the Rule 1.7
violation, the Board recommends
that King be suspended for 30 days
for his violation of Rules 1.5 and 1.7.
The Board further recommends that
Silverman be suspended for three
years, with fitness, for her misconduct in this case as well as her
conduct in another matter.


* AUGUST 2017 *


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