VSB DOCKET NO. 03-000-0109
THIS MATTER came to be heard on August 23, 2002, before a duly convened panel of the Virginia State Bar Disciplinary Board, consisting of Karen A. Gould, Second Vice Chair presiding, James L. Banks, Jr., Bruce T. Clark, Theophlise L. Twitty, and V. Max Beard, Lay Member. Each member of the panel stated on the record that there was no business or financial interest and no personal bias that would impair his or her ability to hear the matter fairly and impartially.
The Respondent, Caroline Patricia Ayres-Fountain, did not appear. She sent a facsimile communication to the Bar indicating that she had been notified of the time and place of the hearing, but would not be appearing. Harry M. Hirsch, Deputy Bar Counsel, appeared on behalf of the Virginia State Bar.
The Board finds, from the evidence presented, that Ms. Ayres-Fountain was licensed to practice law within the Commonwealth of Virginia on February 22, 1993. The Board also finds that Ms. Ayres-Fountain was suspended from the practice of law in Delaware for a period of three years effective July 8, 2002, by order entered by the Supreme Court of the State of Delaware. The Board finds that the Respondent admitted that she had falsely represented to the Delaware Supreme Court, in her Certificates of Compliance filed between 1996 and 2000, that she had timely filed and paid all federal,
state, and local payroll, gross receipts and income taxes; concealed her failure to pay various federal, state and local taxes from the Office of Disciplinary Counsel ("ODC") and its auditor; failed to provide to the ODC the documentation necessary for an audit required as a condition of a private admonition issued in October 2001; with respect to one client, failed to provide competent representation, failed to act with reasonable diligence and promptness, failed to keep the client reasonably informed, failed to hold unearned fees in a trust account, failed to keep the client's property separate from her property, failed to take steps to protect the client's interest, and engaged in deceit and misrepresentation; with respect to another client, failed to act with reasonable diligence and promptness and failed to protect the client's interests upon withdrawal from representation; and, with respect to two other clients, failed to act with reasonable diligence and promptness.
Based upon such findings, the Board orders pursuant to the Rules of Court, Part Six, Section IV, Paragraph 13(G), that the license of Caroline Patricia Ayers-Fountain to practice law within the Commonwealth of Virginia be, and the same is hereby suspended for a period of three years, effective July 8, 2002.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that, as directed in the Board's August 23, 2002, Summary Order in this matter, a copy of which was served on Respondent by certified mail, Respondent must comply with the requirements of Part 6, Section IV, Paragraph 13.K(1), of the Rules of the Supreme Court of Virginia. The time for compliance
with said requirements runs from the August 23, 2002, effective date of the Summary Order . All issues concerning the adequacy of the notice and arrangements required by the Summary Order shall be determined by the Board; and
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Respondent shall furnish true copies of all of the notice letters sent to all persons notified of the suspension, with original return receipts for such notices to the Clerk of the Disciplinary System on or before September 23, 2002; and
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Clerk of the Disciplinary System send an attested and true copy of this Opinion and Order to the Respondent, Caroline Patricia Ayers-Fountain, return receipt requested, at her address of record, 1 Gwynedd Lane, Hockessin, Delaware 19707, and to Harry M. Hirsch, Deputy Bar Counsel, Virginia State Bar, 707 East Main Street, Suite 1500, Richmond, Virginia 23219-2800.
Donna T. Chandler of Chandler & Halasz, P.O. Box 9349, Richmond, Virginia 23277, (804) 730-1222, was sworn as the reporter for the hearing and transcribed the proceedings.
The Clerk of the Disciplinary System shall assess costs pursuant to Part Six, Section IV, paragraph 13(K)(10) of the Rules of the Supreme Court.
ENTERED this Order this_____ day of August, 2002.
VIRGINIA STATE BAR DISCIPLINARY BOARD
Karen A. Gould, Second Vice-Chair