VIRGINIA:



BEFORE THE VIRGINIA STATE BAR DISCIPLINARY BOARD



IN THE MATTERS OF

KHALIL WALI LATIF

VSB Docket Nos. 03-000-0376, 02-031-2876, 02-031-3117, 02-031-3344, 02-031-3345, 03-031-0175, 03-031-0895 and 03-031-0920

 

ORDER


These matters came before the Virginia State Bar Disciplinary Board on May 21, 2003,

to be heard on an Agreed Disposition between the Virginia State Bar and the respondent Khali Wali Latif..

The Agreed Disposition was considered via teleconference by a duly convened panel of the Disciplinary Board consisting of Thaddeus T. Crump, lay member, and attorneys James L. Banks, Jr., Bruce T. Clark, Richard J. Colten and Roscoe B. Stephenson, Chair, presiding. Mr. Latif and his counsel Andrew W. Wood participated in the teleconference. Bar Counsel Barbara Ann Williams represented the Virginia State Bar.

Having considered the Agreed Disposition and the representations of the parties, the Disciplinary Board accepts the Agreed Disposition, with minor changes to which Mr. Latif, his counsel and Bar Counsel agreed, and finds by clear and convincing evidence as follows:

 

I. General Findings of Fact

1. Alan Eugene Barnett, Sr., now known as Khalil Wali Latif or Khalil Abdal Latif, was admitted to the practice of law in the Commonwealth of Virginia on April 25, 1991.

2. Mr. Latif's license to practice law in the Commonwealth of Virginia was suspended between September 25, 2002, and October 2, 2002.

3. At all other times relevant to these proceedings, Mr. Latif was an attorney licensed and in good standing to practice law in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

4. At all times relevant to these proceedings, Mr. Latif was a sole practitioner, who handled mostly bankruptcy and criminal matters.

5. Between March 1998 and October 2002, except for four or five months in 1999, Latrice T. Maddox worked under Mr. Latif's direct supervision as his secretary.

6. In September 1994, after pleading guilty, Ms. Maddox was convicted of feloniously taking goods and property from Food Lion, received a 12 month suspended sentence, was fined and placed on supervised probation for one year.

7. Between October 2001 and late May 2002, Kanitra Jennings worked under Mr. Latif's direct supervision as his receptionist.

8. Ms. Maddox opened Mr. Latif's mail after picking it up from the post office, and Ms. Jennings logged the mail.

9. Between August 1, 2001, and September 30, 2002, Mr. Latif maintained attorney trust account number 0000 1077 6159 at Bank of America in Farmville, Virginia.

10. Between August 1, 2001, and September 30, 2002, Mr. Latif had sole signatory authority on his attorney trust account and custody of the trust account statements.

11. At all times relevant to these proceedings, the only trust account records that Mr. Latif had were deposit slips, checkbook stubs and bank statements.

12. At all times relevant to these proceedings, Mr. Latif did not keep time sheets or subsidiary ledgers.

13. At all times relevant to these proceedings, Mr. Latif did not reconcile his trust account records.

14. Between June 1, 2001 and September 30, 2002, Mr. Latif maintained law firm operating account number 0000 1077 6146 at Bank of America in Farmville.

 

II. VSB Docket No. 03-000-0376
Complainant: United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia, Lynchburg Division

A. Findings of Fact

1. On August 5, 2002, the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia, Lynchburg Division, held Mr. Latif in civil and criminal contempt.

2. Before Mr. Latif was held in contempt, the federal district court and the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Virginia, Lynchburg Division, afforded him nine months and six different hearings to show why he should not be held in contempt.

3. The matters before the federal district court were Mr. Latif's alleged failure to take court ordered action, repeated failure to appear in court when ordered to do so, failure to pay court imposed fines and failure to file a written response to the contempt allegations after the federal district court ordered him to do so.

4. A copy of the Order and Memorandum Opinion entered by Judge Norman K. Moon on August 5, 2002, is attached hereto and incorporated by reference.

5. In addition to ordering Mr. Latif to pay a fine of $950 the bankruptcy court had previously imposed plus an additional fine of $400, the federal district court barred Mr. Latif from practicing law in any federal district court, bankruptcy court or other federal court within the Western District of Virginia for a period of eight months.

6. The federal district court ordered that transcripts of the three evidentiary hearings and a certified copy of the contempt order be sent to the Virginia State Bar.

7. On August 8, 2002, the federal district court amended the order to reflect that Mr. Latif still had not paid the $50 civil contempt fine imposed by the bankruptcy court on February 19, 2002, although Mr. Latif maintains that he instructed Ms. Maddox to send the check to the bankruptcy court.

8. On August 13, 2002, the federal district court stayed its previous orders of August 5 and 8, 2002, until September 27, 2002, but did not advise the Virginia State Bar of the stay.

9. Mr. Latif filed a motion for rehearing on August 14, 2002.

10. On September 25, 2002, based upon the suspension order entered on August 5, 2002, the Disciplinary Board suspended Mr. Latif's license to practice law in Virginia.

11. The federal district court heard Mr. Latif's motion to rehear on September 27, 2002, and took the matter under advisement.

12. On October 2, 2002, the Disciplinary Board stayed the interim suspension of Mr. Latif's license to practice law in Virginia.

13. By failing to maintain the requisite trust account records and reconcile the records he did have, Mr. Latif violated the disciplinary rules governing safekeeping of client property.

14. In addition to violating the disciplinary rules governing safekeeping of client property, Mr. Latif failed to make reasonable efforts to ensure that the conduct of the nonlawyer assistants working under his direct supervision was compatible with his professional obligations as a lawyer.

15. After discovering gross irregularities in his attorney trust account and office procedures, Mr. Latif failed to take prompt remedial action and exercise sufficient supervisory authority to afford reasonable assurance that the conduct incompatible with his professional obligations as a lawyer would cease.

16. On or about October 30, 2001, a bankruptcy court employee advised Mr. Latif that he had to pay all bankruptcy court fees in cash, or by cashiers' checks or money orders, because two checks drawn on his attorney trust account had been returned for insufficient funds.

17. During the course of the same conversation with the bankruptcy court clerk on or about October 30, 2001, Mr. Latif also discovered that a cashier's check in the amount of $305 had been made in his name and conveyed to the bankruptcy court along with a letter on his letterhead, purportedly signed by Ms. Maddox and dated October 2, 2001.

18. Mr. Latif testified in federal district court on May 21, 2002, that Ms. Maddox's signature on the October 2 letter was a forgery, but indicated that, after asking Ms. Maddox whether there had been unauthorized withdrawals on his account, he let the unauthorized withdrawal of funds go because "it sounded so ludicrous."

19. Mr. Latif revisited his failure to investigate the unauthorized withdrawal of funds and letter forged on his office letterhead, remarking "You know, Judge initially when it happened, that's why I said, well, I'll just continue to pay my filing fees, because I —it was so bazaar [sic]."

20. Ms. Maddox subsequently testified that she had no knowledge of the unauthorized withdrawal of funds, that her signature had been forged on the October 2 letter and that she would not have known whether there were overdrafts on Mr. Latif's trust account because she did not do the books and Mr. Latif kept the bank statements.

21. On May 17, 2002, because Mr. Latif had previously failed to appear for three show cause hearings ordered by the bankruptcy court, the federal district court entered an order compelling the U.S. Marshals to take Mr. Latif into custody for a show cause hearing before the federal district court on May 22, 2002.

22. When he appeared in court, Mr. Latif testified that he did not receive the show cause order mailed to him on May 17, 2002, and knew nothing about the show cause hearing until the United States Marshals contacted his office that morning.

23. A bankruptcy court employee testified that the bankruptcy court had mailed Mr. Latif three orders directing him to appear for show cause hearings on November 15, 2001, February 7, 2002, and May 16, 2002, and that he failed to appear for all three hearings.

24. After Mr. Latif claimed that he filed a motion to continue the November 15th show cause hearing and that the bankruptcy court had entered an order continuing the matter, the federal district court advised Mr. Latif that the bankruptcy court had never received a motion to continue and did not enter an order continuing the matter.

25. Ms. Maddox subsequently testified that she spoke to the bankruptcy judge's secretary about the November 15th show cause hearing, obtained a new hearing date of December 13, 2001, prepared a motion to continue the hearing and gave it to Ms. Jennings to mail.

26. Ms. Maddox admitted that she never received an order from the bankruptcy court continuing the show cause hearing to December 13, 2001.

27. When the federal court inquired whether Mr. Latif appeared before the bankruptcy court to show cause on December 13, 2001, Mr. Latif testified that he did not appear because the judge's secretary, Barbara Okes, told Ms. Maddox that he did not need to appear because he had complied with the bankruptcy court's order.

28. After Mr. Latif claimed that he knew nothing about the May 16th show cause hearing before the bankruptcy court, the federal district court produced a certified mail receipt showing that Ms. Maddox had signed for the show cause order on May 3, 2002.

29. When Mr. Latif questioned whether the signature on the certified mail receipt was actually Ms. Maddox's signature, the court indicated that if Mr. Latif intended to claim any documents were forgeries, he needed to let the court know right away so the FBI could investigate.

30. The federal district court continued the May 21st hearing to give Mr.Latif sufficient time to prepare his response to the contempt allegations and directed Mr. Latif on the record to file a written response explaining why he had not obeyed each of the court orders in question.

31. On May 22, 2002, the court entered an order requiring Mr. Latif to file his written response by June 12, 2002.

32. When Mr. Latif appeared before the federal district court at the second show cause hearing on June 24, 2002, he had not filed a written response as ordered by the court.

33. Mr. Latif explained that he had not filed a written response because he had not receive the court's order until "last week" and figured it was too late to file a response.

34. During the course of the June 24th hearing, the federal district court confirmed that the bankruptcy court had never received Mr. Latif's purported payment of a $50 fine that the bankruptcy court imposed by order entered on January 11, 2002.

35. Mr. Latif testified that he wrote a check for $50 on January 18, 2002, placed the $50 check across the bankruptcy court's order imposing the fine, and gave the check and the order to Ms. Maddox.

36. After listening to Mr. Latif's explanation of what happened, the judge asked him, "Do you still have this same secretary?" When Mr. Latif replied affirmatively, the court exclaimed, "Then why do you have the same secretary . . . Apparently the person is totally incompetent."

37. Mr. Latif then called Ms. Maddox, who testified that she sent the check with the original copy of the January 11th order to the bankruptcy court.

38. Mr. Latif admitted that the $50 check that he allegedly sent the bankruptcy court never cleared his account.

39. Ms. Maddox denied receiving a copy of the show cause order even though she acknowledged receiving a copy of the January 11th order imposing the $50 fine.

40. Ms. Maddox also denied receiving a copy of the order that the bankruptcy court entered on February 19, 2002, imposing additional sanctions of $10 a day on Mr. Latif until he paid the $50 fine.

41. The only court order that Ms. Maddox acknowledged receiving was the show cause order entered on May 2, the receipt for which, contrary to Mr. Latif's assertion that her signature was forged, she admitted she signed.

42. When the federal district court inquired at the hearing on June 24, 2002, whether Mr. Latif had ascertained if any certified mail receipts had been forged, Mr. Latif indicated that he was still attempting to do that.

43. The federal district court held a third show cause hearing on July 25, 2002.

44. At a show cause proceeding before the federal district court on July 25, 2002, Mr. Latif denied receiving a memorandum dated September 15, 2001, that the Deputy Bankruptcy Court Clerk mailed him, indicating that a $15 check he submitted to the court for a conversion fee in a bankruptcy case had been returned for insufficient funds.

45. The $15 check returned for insufficient funds was drawn on Mr. Latif's attorney trust account.

46. On July 25, 2002, Barbara Okes, the bankruptcy court employee with whom Ms. Maddox allegedly spoke about continuing the first show cause hearing before the bankruptcy court on November 15, 2001, testified that motions for continuances must be in writing and that she would never say that a continuance would be granted automatically or that an attorney need not appear.

47. Based upon the evidence presented at the three show cause hearings, the federal district court found that Mr. Latif's explanations of the matters before the court were not credible; that he evaded the court's questions, offered inconsistent and illogical answers and failed to admit any responsibility for his failure to act as an officer of the court; and that his actions conclusively demonstrated a lack of integrity.

48. After Mr. Latif filed a motion for rehearing, a fourth hearing was held before the federal district court on September 27, 2002.

49. On September 23, 2002, Mr. Latif submitted a written response alleging that the show cause hearing scheduled for November 15, 2001, was removed from the bankruptcy's court's docket and that Ms. Okes indicated to Ms. Maddox that Mr. Latif had complied with the first show cause order issued by the bankruptcy court.

50. At the hearing before the federal district court on September 27, 2002, Mr. Latif represented to the court that a woman named Margaret from the bankruptcy court clerk's office had contacted Mr. Latif's bank and persuaded the bank to issue a certified check for $350 from his trust account without his knowledge or approval.

51. Mr. Latif admitted that he "should have" but did not report this incident to anyone. to the court.

52. When the judge questioned Mr. Latif about the status of his investigation of the unauthorized withdrawal of funds from his account, Mr. Latif indicated that the bar was investigating that issue.

53. At the end of the September 27 hearing, Judge Moon took the contempt matter under advisement; to date, Judge Moon has not issued a ruling.

54. In a letter addressed to Judge Moon dated October 14, 2002, Mr. Latif blamed "each and every event involved in the problems I have had in your jurisdiction" upon Ms. Maddox.

55. Mr. Latif represented to the court that he strongly suspected that Ms. Maddox had been embezzling from his accounts and clients for some period of time.

56. Mr. Latif represented to the court that he had begun a careful audit and an investigation into all of Ms. Maddox's dealings which appeared suspect.

57. Mr. Latif represented to the court that Ms. Maddox had forged his name to a letter addressed to the bar explaining two overdrafts on his attorney trust account.

58. Mr. Latif represented to the court that he would "be advising our Commonwealth Attorney in reference to her embezzlements."

59. By letter to the Commonwealth's Attorney dated January 20, 2003, Mr. Latif asked the Virginia State Police to conduct a criminal investigation of Ms. Maddox and enclosed a report, prepared by a retired FBI agent, dated December 12, 2002.

60. The agent's report indicates that Ms. Maddox embezzled money from Mr. Latif.


B. Findings of Misconduct

The foregoing findings of fact give rise to the following findings of misconduct under the Rules of Professional Conduct:

RULE 1.15 Safekeeping Property

* * *

(e)  Record-Keeping Requirements, Required Books and Records.  As a minimum requirement every lawyer engaged in the private practice of law in Virginia, hereinafter called "lawyer," shall maintain or cause to be maintained, on a current basis, books and records which establish compliance with Rule 1.15(a) and (c). Whether a lawyer or law firm maintains computerized records or a manual accounting system, such system must produce the records and information required by this Rule.

(1)
In the case of funds held in an escrow account subject to this Rule, the required books and records include:

* * *

(iii) subsidiary ledger.  A subsidiary ledger containing a separate account for each client and for every other person or entity from whom money has been received in escrow shall be maintained. The ledger account shall by separate columns or otherwise clearly identify escrow funds disbursed, and escrow funds balance on hand. The ledger account for a client or a separate subsidiary ledger account for a client shall clearly indicate all fees paid from trust accounts;

(iv) reconciliations and supporting records required under this Rule;


(v)
the records required under this paragraph shall be preserved for at least five full calendar years following the termination of the fiduciary relationship.

 

(f) Required Escrow Accounting Procedures. The following minimum escrow accounting procedures are applicable to all escrow accounts subject to Rule 1.15(a) and (c) by lawyers practicing in Virginia.

* * *

(4) Periodic trial balance.  A regular periodic trial balance of the subsidiary ledger shall be made at least quarter annually, within 30 days after the close of the period and shall show the escrow account balance of the client or other person at the end of each period.

(i) The total of the trial balance must agree with the control figure computed by taking the beginning balance, adding the total of monies received in escrow for the period and deducting the total of escrow monies disbursed for the period; and

(ii) The trial balance shall identify the preparer and be approved by the lawyer or one of the lawyers in the law firm.

(5) Reconciliations.

(1) A monthly reconciliation shall be made at month end of the cash balance derived from the cash receipts journal and cash disbursements journal total, the escrow account checkbook balance, and the escrow account bank statement balance;

(ii) A periodic reconciliation shall be made at least quarter annually, within 30 days after the close of the period, reconciling cash balances to the subsidiary ledger trial balance;

(iii) Reconciliations shall identify the preparer and be approved by the lawyer or one of the lawyers in the law firm.

 

(6) Receipts and disbursements explained. The purpose of all receipts and disbursements of escrow funds reported in the escrow journals and subsidiary ledgers shall be fully explained and supported by adequate records.


RULE 3.4 Fairness To Opposing Party And Counsel

A lawyer shall not:

* * *

(d) Knowingly disobey . . . a ruling of a tribunal made in the course of a proceeding, but the lawyer may take steps, in good faith, to test the validity of such rule or ruling.



RULE 5.3 Responsibilities Regarding Nonlawyer Assistants

With respect to a nonlawyer employed or retained by or associated with a lawyer:

* * *

(b) a lawyer having direct supervisory authority over the nonlawyer shall make reasonable efforts to ensure that the person's conduct is compatible with the professional obligations of the lawyer; and

(c) a lawyer shall be responsible for conduct of such a person that would be a violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct if engaged in by a lawyer if:

* * *

(2) the lawyer . . . has direct supervisory authority over the person, and knows or should have known of the conduct at a time when its consequences can be avoided or mitigated but fails to take reasonable remedial action.



III. VSB Docket Nos. 02-031-2876, 02-031-3117, 02-031-3344, 02-031-3345, 03-031- 0175, 03-031-0895 and 03-031-0920
Trust Account Overdrafts

A. Findings of Fact

1. A Trust Account Notification Agreement that Bank of America, N.A. f/k/a NationsBank, N.A. entered into with the Virginia State Bar on August 25, 1999, obligates Bank of America to notify the Virginia State Bar, as well as Mr. Latif, of any overdrafts on his attorney trust account.

2. On or about February 28, 2002, the Virginia State Bar received a notice from Bank of America dated January 24, 2002, that Mr. Latif's trust account was overdrawn by $967.68.

3. On or about February 28, 2002, the Virginia Sate Bar received a second notice from Bank of America dated February 25, 2002, that Mr. Latif's trust account was overdrawn by $629.68.

4. On or about March 19, 2002, the Virginia State Bar received a notice from Bank of America dated March 14, 2002, that Mr. Latif's trust account was overdrawn by $717.68.

5. On or about April 2, 2002, the Virginia State Bar received a notice from Bank of America dated March 28, 2002, that Mr. Latif's trust account was overdrawn by $1,029.68.

6. On or about July 1, 2002, the Virginia State Bar received a notice from Bank of America dated June 25, 2002, that Mr. Latif's trust account was overdrawn by $590.68.

7. On or about August 19, 2002, the Virginia State Bar received a notice from Bank of America dated August 13, 2002, that Mr. Latif's trust account was overdrawn by $1,428.68.

8. On or about August 21, 2002, the Virginia State Bar received a notice from Bank of America dated August 14, 2002, that Mr. Latif's trust account was overdrawn by $2,228.68.

9. On or about September 24, 2002, the Virginia State Bar received a notice from Bank of America dated September 18, 2002, that Mr. Latif's trust account was overdrawn by $679.71.

10. Between January 2002 and September 2002, Bank of America reported overdrafts on Mr. Latif's trust account totaling $8,272,24.

11. Bank of America notified Mr. Latif of each of the overdrafts referenced above as did the Virginia State Bar.

12. Client funds were deposited into Mr. Latif's operating account between July and November 2001, and February and July 2002.

13. Mr. Latif's operating account was overdrawn in July, September, October, November and December 2001, and January, February, March, April, May, June, July and August 2002.

14. Mr. Latif cannot explain why funds totaling more than $5,000 were transferred from his law firm operating account to his trust account on July 11, August 30 and September 11, 2002.

15. Mr. Latif failed to account properly for client funds withdrawn from his attorney trust account and paid to third parties and himself.

16. No later than October 30, 2001, Mr. Latif knew the bankruptcy court would not accept checks from him because at least two checks written on his attorney trust account had been returned for insufficient funds.

17. Mr. Latif maintains that he did not know there were numerous other overdrafts on his trust account until October 8, 2002, when the bar investigator advised him of that fact.

18. On October 8, 2002, Mr. Latif also learned from the bar investigator that on or about April 29, 2002, Ms. Maddox had prepared and forged his name to a letter, sent to Assistant Bar Counsel, which purportedly explained two overdrafts on his attorney trust account.

19. In addition to his own unethical acts of omission and commission with respect to his attorney trust account, Mr. Latif's violation of the disciplinary rules governing safekeeping of client property facilitated conduct by Ms. Maddox, and perhaps another nonlawyer assistant working under his direct supervision, that was inconsistent with Mr. Latif's professional obligations as a lawyer.

20. Notwithstanding his knowledge of irregularities in his attorney trust account and office procedures, Mr. Latif failed to take reasonable remedial action to ascertain why and how the trust account overdrafts and other irregularities occurred and the extent of the losses incurred.


B. Findings of Misconduct

The foregoing findings of fact give rise to the following findings of misconduct under the Rules of Professional Conduct:

RULE 1.15 Safekeeping Property

(a) All funds received or held by a lawyer or law firm on behalf of a client, other than reimbursement of advances for costs and expenses, shall be deposited in one or more identifiable escrow accounts maintained at a financial institution in the state in which the law office is situated and no funds belonging to the lawyer or law firm shall be deposited therein except as follows:

(1) funds reasonably sufficient to pay service or other charges or fees imposed by the financial institution may be deposited therein; or

(2) funds belonging in part to a client and in part presently or potentially to the lawyer or law firm must be deposited therein, and the portion belonging to the lawyer or law firm must be withdrawn promptly after it is due unless the right of the lawyer or law firm to receive it is disputed by the client, in which event the disputed portion shall not be withdrawn until the dispute is finally resolved.

* * *

(c) A lawyer shall:

* * *

(3) maintain complete records of all funds, securities, and other properties of a client coming into the possession of the lawyer and render appropriate accounts to the client regarding them; and

* * *

(e)  Record-Keeping Requirements, Required Books and Records.  As a minimum requirement every lawyer engaged in the private practice of law in Virginia, hereinafter called "lawyer," shall maintain or cause to be maintained, on a current basis, books and records which establish compliance with Rule 1.15(a) and (c). Whether a lawyer or law firm maintains computerized records or a manual accounting system, such system must produce the records and information required by this Rule.

(2) In the case of funds held in an escrow account subject to this Rule, the required books and records include:

* * *

(iii) subsidiary ledger.  A subsidiary ledger containing a separate account for each client and for every other person or entity from whom money has been received in escrow shall be maintained. The ledger account shall by separate columns or otherwise clearly identify escrow funds disbursed, and escrow funds balance on hand. The ledger account for a client or a separate subsidiary ledger account for a client shall clearly indicate all fees paid from trust accounts;

(iv) reconciliations and supporting records required under this Rule;

(v) the records required under this paragraph shall be preserved for at least five full calendar years following the termination of the fiduciary relationship.

(f) Required Escrow Accounting Procedures. The following minimum escrow accounting procedures are applicable to all escrow accounts subject to Rule 1.15(a) and (c) by lawyers practicing in Virginia.

* * *

(2) Deposits.  All receipts of escrow money shall be deposited intact and a retained duplicate deposit slip or other such record shall be sufficiently detailed to show the identity of each item;

(3) Deposit of mixed escrow and non-escrow funds other than fees and retainers.  Mixed escrow and non-escrow funds shall be deposited intact to the escrow account. The non-escrow portion shall be withdrawn upon the clearing of the mixed fund deposit instrument;

(4) Periodic trial balance.  A regular periodic trial balance of the subsidiary ledger shall be made at least quarter annually, within 30 days after the close of the period and shall show the escrow account balance of the client or other person at the end of each period.

(i) The total of the trial balance must agree with the control figure computed by taking the beginning balance, adding the total of monies received in escrow for the period and deducting the total of escrow monies disbursed for the period; and

(ii) The trial balance shall identify the preparer and be approved by the lawyer or one of the lawyers in the law firm.

(5) Reconciliations.

(i) A monthly reconciliation shall be made at month end of the cash balance derived from the cash receipts journal and cash disbursements journal total, the escrow account checkbook balance, and the escrow account bank statement balance;

(ii) A periodic reconciliation shall be made at least quarter annually, within 30 days after the close of the period, reconciling cash balances to the subsidiary ledger trial balance;

(iii) Reconciliations shall identify the preparer and be approved by the lawyer or one of the lawyers in the law firm.

(6) Receipts and disbursements explained. The purpose of all receipts and disbursements of escrow funds reported in the escrow journals and subsidiary ledgers shall be fully explained and supported by adequate records.



RULE 5.3 Responsibilities Regarding Nonlawyer Assistants

With respect to a nonlawyer employed or retained by or associated with a lawyer:

* * *

(b) a lawyer having direct supervisory authority over the nonlawyer shall make reasonable efforts to ensure that the person's conduct is compatible with the professional obligations of the lawyer; and

(c) a lawyer shall be responsible for conduct of such a person that would be a violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct if engaged in by a lawyer if:

* * *

(2) the lawyer . . . has direct supervisory authority over the person, and knows or should have known of the conduct at a time when its consequences can be avoided or mitigated but fails to take reasonable remedial action.


IV. Disposition

Accordingly, the Disciplinary Board, Khalil Wali Latif, his counsel, and Bar Counsel agree that a Four Month Suspension with Terms, with the terms to take effect immediately and the suspension to take effect on September 1, 2003, as representing an appropriate sanction if this matter were to be resolved via an evidentiary hearing before the Disciplinary Board, taking into consideration the Respondent's disciplinary record.

Compliance with the following terms and conditions are a predicate for the proposed disposition:

1. Mr. Latif shall obtain an agreement in writing from an attorney acceptable to Bar Counsel whereby that attorney shall agree to serve as a practice mentor for Mr. Latif for a period of two-years. The practice mentor shall assist Mr. Latif in organizing his law practice and managing it in accordance with the Rules of Professional Conduct, and regularly consult with Mr. Latif about any problems that may arise in his law practice, including supervision of non-lawyer personnel, communications with clients and case management.

2. Mr. Latif shall employ a part-time bookkeeper approved by his practice mentor, certify in writing to Bar Counsel that he has done so before the end of his four month suspension and provide Bar Counsel the part-time bookkeeper's name and home address. If the part-time bookkeeper should leave Mr. Latif's employ before the end of Mr. Latif's two year consultation with his practice mentor, Mr. Latif shall promptly inform the bar in writing when and why the bookkeeper left his employ, employ another part-time bookkeeper approved by his practice mentor, certify in writing to the bar that he has complied with this term within thirty days of the date the original bookkeeper left his employ and provide Bar Counsel the new bookkeeper's name and home address.

3. Mr. Latif shall retain, before his four month suspension ends, a certified public accountant approved by his practice mentor to review his trust and operating account records no less than every three months to ensure that Mr. Latif's handling of client funds complies with the Rules of Professional Conduct; Mr. Latif shall certify in writing to Bar Counsel that he has retained a certified public accountant and provide Bar Counsel the accountant's name and address.

4. If the certified public accountant ends his engagement with Mr. Latif before the end of Mr. Latif's two year consultation with his practice mentor, Mr. Latif shall promptly inform the bar in writing when and why the engagement ended, retain another certified public accountant approved by his practice mentor, certify in writing to the bar that he has retained another accountant within thirty days of termination of the original accountant's services and provide Bar Counsel the name and address of the new accountant.

5. It shall be Mr. Latif's responsibility to provide the bookkeeper and certified public accountant all the financial information they need, including original trust account records and supporting documentation, including, but not limited to, original receipts, checks, ledgers and bank statements. Mr. Latif's failure to provide complete financial information will constitute a breach of the terms of the agreed disposition.

6. Mr. Latif shall not accept any new clients or client matters of any nature between May 21, 2003, and September 1, 2003, when the four month suspension takes effect.

Upon satisfactory proof that all terms and conditions of the Agreed Disposition have been met, these matters shall be closed. Mr. Latif's failure to comply with any one or more of the agreed terms and conditions will result in the imposition of the alternative sanction of a Two Year Suspension. The imposition of the alternative sanction shall not require any hearing on the underlying charges of Misconduct, if the Virginia State Bar discovers that Mr. Latif has failed to comply with any of the agreed terms or conditions. In that event, the Virginia State Bar shall issue and serve upon Mr. Latif a Notice of Hearing to Show Cause why the alternative sanction of a two year suspension should not be imposed. The sole factual issue will be whether the Mr. Latif has violated one or more of the terms of the four month suspension without legal justification or excuse. The imposition of the alternative sanction shall be in addition to any other sanction imposed for misconduct during the probationary period.

The court reporter for this hearing on the Agreed Disposition was Donna Chandler of Chandler and Halasz Court Reporters, P.O. Box 9349, Richmond, Virginia 23227, (804) 730-1222.

The Clerk of the Disciplinary System shall assess costs pursuant to Part Six, Section IV, Paragraph 13.B.8.c. of the Rules of the Virginia Supreme Court.

It is ORDERED that the four month suspension shall take effect on September 1, 2003, the terms shall take effect immediately and that a copy teste of this Order shall be mailed by certified mail, return receipt requested, to the respondent, Khalil Wali Latif, 110 North Main Street, P.O. Box 593, Farmville, Virginia 23901, his last address of record with the Virginia State Bar, and sent by regular mail to his counsel, Andrew W. Wood, Esquire, P.O. Box 8265, Richmond Virginia 23226, and delivered by hand to Bar Counsel Barbara Ann Williams, Virginia State Bar, 707 E. Main Street, Suite 1500, Richmond, Virginia 23219.

It is further ORDERED that, pursuant to the provisions of Paragraph 13.(M) of the Rules of the Supreme Court of Virginia, respondent shall forthwith give notice, by certified mail, return receipt requested, of this suspension of his license to practice law in the Commonwealth of Virginia to all clients in Virginia for whom he is currently handling matters and to all clients for whom he is currently handling matters in Virginia, if he has any such clients, and to all opposing attorneys and presiding judges in litigation pending in Virginia. Respondent shall also make appropriate arrangements for the disposition of client matters in his care, in conformity with his clients' wishes. Respondent shall give such notice of his suspension to clients within 14 days of the effective date of this suspension order, and make such arrangements as are required for the disposition of client matters within 45 days of the effective date of this suspension order. Respondent shall furnish proof to the Virginia State Bar within 60 days of the effective date of this suspension order that such notices have been timely given and appropriate arrangements made for the disposition of all client matters. The board shall determine issues concerning the adequacy of the notice and the propriety of arrangement made for the disposition of client matters. The board may impose a sanction of revocation or suspension for failure to comply with the requirements of this subparagraph.

Enter this Order this _____ day of ______________, 2003.

 

VIRGINIA STATE BAR DISCIPLINARY BOARD




By:____________________________________________

Roscoe B. Stephenson, Presiding Chair