V I R G I N I A :
BEFORE THE FIFTH DISTRICT--SECTION III SUBCOMMITTEE
OF THE VIRGINIA STATE BAR
IN THE MATTER OF
MARK THOMAS CROSSLAND, ESQ.
VSB Docket No. 99-053-1440
On May 10, 2002, a meeting in this matter was held before a duly convened Fifth District--Section III Subcommittee consisting of Gregory A. Porter, Esquire, Dr. Theodore Smith, and Joyce Ann N. Massey, Esquire, presiding.
Pursuant to Part 6, §IV, ¶13(B)(5) of the Rules of the Supreme Court of Virginia, the Fifth District--Section III Subcommittee of the Virginia State Bar hereby serves upon the Respondent the following Public Reprimand as set forth below:
I. FINDINGS OF FACT
1. At all times relevant hereto, Mark Thomas Crossland, Esq., (hereafter "Respondent"), has been an attorney licensed to practice law in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
2. The Respondent conducted a residential real estate settlement on behalf of purchasers named Sellers in 1992.
3. Employing a different attorney as settlement agent, the Sellerses refinanced their property in November of 1993.
4. At the time of the refinance transaction, the attorney noted that a deed of trust which should have been released, of record, as part of the settlement transaction conducted by
Respondent, was not so released.
5. The Respondent's office was contacted concerning the unreleased deed of trust. The Respondent's secretary informed the office of the attorney performing the refinance settlement that a certificate of satisfaction for the unreleased deed of trust was in Respondent's file, and that it would be recorded promptly in the Spotsylvania County, Virginia, land records. In reliance upon that representation, the attorney conducted the refinance settlement.
6. After the passage of several weeks following the refinance settlement, the attorney determined that the certificate of satisfaction had not been recorded in the land records, as promised by Respondent's secretary. When this fact was brought to the attention of Respondent's office, the refinance settlement attorney's office was informed by Respondent's secretary that the certificate of satisfaction had been sent to the wrong courthouse, but that it would be retrieved and would thereafter be recorded in the Spotsylvania County land records.
7. Several more weeks passed, and the attorney determined that the certificate of satisfaction remained unrecorded among the Spotsylvania County land records. The attorney or a member of his staff thereafter consistently left messages for, and wrote to, Respondent.
8. In October of 1997, the attorney wrote to the Respondent concerning the situation mentioning this time the prospect of a complaint to the Virginia State Bar. A member of Respondent's staff contacted the attorney and informed him that Respondent would need a couple of weeks in which to take care of the matter. After the passage of several more weeks, the attorney left several messages for the Respondent, none of which was returned. Thereafter, the attorney assumed the responsibility for effecting release of the deed of trust in question.
9. Between the time the matter of the unreleased deed of trust first came to the refinance settlement attorney's attention in 1993, and continuing through December of 1997, a total of twenty-four (24) calls, letters, and/or faxes were made and/or sent to Respondent's office by the refinance settlement attorney's office, none of which was personally responded to or acted upon by the Respondent.
10. When interviewed by an investigator for the Virginia State Bar, the Respondent maintained that his secretary had concealed from him all of the contacts from the attorney who handled the refinance transaction, and that the first notice that he, the Respondent, received respecting the unreleased deed of trust was via his receipt of the Bar complaint.
11. The investigation conducted by the Virginia State Bar revealed that following Respondent's receipt of the Bar complaint, he caused a certificate of satisfaction to be recorded, despite the fact that one had been earlier recorded by the refinance settlement attorney.
II. NATURE OF MISCONDUCT
The Subcommittee finds that the following Disciplinary Rules have been violated:
DR 3-104. Nonlawyer Personnel.
(C) A lawyer or law firm that employs
nonlawyer personnel shall exercise a high standard of care to assure compliance
by the nonlawyer personnel with the applicable provisions of the Code of Professional
Responsibility. The initial and the continuing relationship with the client
must be the responsibility of the employing attorney.
(D) The delegated work of nonlawyer personnel shall be such that it will assist only the employing attorney and will be merged into the lawyer's completed product. The lawyer shall examine and be responsible for all work delegated to nonlawyer personnel.
DR 6-101. Competence and
(B) A lawyer shall attend promptly to matters undertaken for a client until completed or until the lawyer has properly and completely withdrawn from representing the client.
III. PUBLIC REPRIMAND
Accordingly, it is the decision of the Subcommittee to impose a PUBLIC REPRIMAND on Respondent, Mark Thomas Crossland, Esquire, and he is so reprimanded.
FIFTH DISTRICT - SECTION III SUBCOMMITTEE
OF THE VIRGINIA STATE BAR
CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE
I certify that I have this 13th day of May, 2002, mailed a true and correct copy of the Subcommittee Determination (PUBLIC REPRIMAND) by CERTIFIED MAIL, RETURN RECEIPT REQUESTED, to the Respondent, Mark Thomas Crossland, Esq.,12620 Lake Ridge Drive, Woodbridge, Virginia 22192, his address of record with the Virginia State Bar, and a copy thereof by first class mail, postage prepaid, to Seth M. Guggenheim, Assistant Bar Counsel, at 100 North Pitt Street, Suite 310, Alexandria, Virginia 22314-3133.