IN THE MATTER OF ERNEST PLEASANTS GATES, JR.
VSB DOCKET NO. 01-031-3083
On October 9, 2002, a hearing in the above-styled matter was held before a duly convened panel of the Third District Committee, Section I, consisting of Marcus D. Minton, Esquire; Robert C. Clary, Esquire; Cheryl J. Wilson, Esquire; Melvin G. Rosen, lay member; and Ray A. Lupold, III, Esquire, presiding.
The respondent, Ernest Pleasants
Gates, Jr., appeared and represented himself. Barbara Ann Williams, Bar Counsel,
appeared as counsel for the Virginia State Bar. The court reporting service
was Chandler & Halasz, P.O. Box 9349, Richmond, Virginia 23227; (804) 730-1222.
Pursuant to Part Six, Section IV, Paragraph 13.H.2.l.(2)(d) of the Rules of Court, the Third District Committee, Section III, hereby issues the following Public Reprimand to the Respondent.
I. Findings of Fact
The Respondent and Bar Counsel stipulated
to the following factual findings:
1. The respondent, Ernest Pleasants
Gates, was admitted to the practice of law in the Commonwealth of Virginia on
October 8, 1981.
2. At all times relevant to this
proceeding, Mr. Gates was an attorney in good standing to practice law in the
Commonwealth of Virginia.
3. On June 17, 1998, Christopher Paul Hanchey was convicted of grand larceny, larceny of a firearm and felony failure to appear in the Chesterfield County Circuit Court.
4. Mr. Hanchey was sentenced to serve 11 years in prison.
5. Mr. Gates served as Mr. Hanchey's court appointed counsel at trial and on appeal.
6. The Court of Appeals denied the appeal that Mr. Gates filed on Mr. Hanchey's behalf by order entered on July 20, 1999.
7. Mr. Gates filed a petition for appeal on Mr. Hanchey's behalf in the Supreme Court of Virginia in a timely manner but failed to include assignments of error in the petition for appeal as required by Rule of Court 5:17(c).
8. By order entered October 6, 1999, the Supreme Court of Virginia dismissed the petition for appeal because it did not contain assignments of error.
9. Mr. Gates submitted a petition for rehearing to the Supreme Court of Virginia on or about October 15, 1999, asserting that he had inadvertently failed to include assignments of error.
10. By order entered November 5, 1999, the Supreme Court of Virginia denied the petition for rehearing.
11. Mr. Gates did not immediately advise Mr. Hanchey that the Supreme Court of Virginia had denied his appeal or that he could pursue a habeas petition.
II. Findings of Misconduct
Based upon the findings of fact,
the Third District Committee, Section I, finds that the Respondent has violated
the following disciplinary rules:
DR 6-101. Competence and Promptness.
* * *
(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.
(C) A lawyer shall keep a client
reasonably informed about matters in which the lawyer's services are being rendered.
(D) A lawyer shall inform his client of facts pertinent to the matter and of communications from another party that may significantly affect settlement or resolution of the matter.
III. Sanction for Misconduct
Accordingly, based upon the clear and convincing evidence of ethical misconduct and the respondent's prior disciplinary record, it is the decision of the Third District Committee, Section I, to issue a Public Reprimand to the Respondent in this matter.
Pursuant to Part Six, Section IV, Paragraph 13.B.8.c.(1) of the Rules of Court, the Clerk of the Disciplinary System shall assess costs against the Respondent.
THIRD DISTRICT COMMITTEE, SECTION I,
OF THE VIRGINIA STATE BAR
Ray A. Lupold, III, Esquire, 3-I Chair
CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE
I hereby certify that a copy of the foregoing District Committee Determination (Public Reprimand) was mailed to the Respondent on the ________ day of ________, 2002, by certified mail, return receipt requested to Suite A, 6601 Irongate Square, Richmond, Virginia 23234, respondent's last address of record with the Virginia State Bar.