VIRGINIA:

BEFORE THE VIRGINIA STATE BAR DISCIPLINARY BOARD

IN THE MATTER OF

GEORGE ELRIDGE LEEDOM VSB Docket No. 01-032-1956
02-032-0968
Respondent 02-032-1140
02-032-1240
02-032-1439
02-032-2170
02-032-2292
02-032-2734
02-032-2976

ORDER OF DISABILITY SUSPENSION

These matters came to be heard on August 18, 2003 upon an Agreed Disposition between the Virginia State Bar, the Respondent, George Elridge Leedom, and the Respondent(s counsel, Joseph W. Kaestner, Esquire.

A duly convened panel of the Virginia State Bar Disciplinary Board consisting of Thaddeus T. Crump, Lay Member, James L. Banks, Esq., H. Taylor Williams, IV, Esq., David R. Schultz, Esq., and Robert L. Freed, Esq., Second Vice-Chair, presiding, considered the matter by telephone conference. The Respondent(s counsel, Joseph W. Kaestner, Esq., appeared on behalf of the Respondent. Edward L. Davis, Assistant Bar Counsel, appeared on behalf of the Virginia State Bar. The Respondent, George Elridge Leedom, did not participate.

Upon due deliberation, it is the decision of the Virginia State Bar Disciplinary Board to accept the Agreed Disposition. The Stipulations of Fact, Disciplinary Rule Violations, and Disposition agreed upon by the Virginia State Bar, the Respondent and his counsel are incorporated herein as follows:

I. STIPULATIONS OF FACT

1. At all times relevant hereto, the Respondent George Elridge Leedom [Leedom] has been an attorney licensed to practice law in the Commonwealth of Virginia

VSB Docket No. 01-032-1956
Complainant: VSB/Holton

2. In or about November 2000, Meredith April Swoope [Swoope] met with Leedom regarding representation on an assault charge pending against her in the Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court for the City of Richmond [Richmond case]. Leedom agreed to represent Swoope on the charge which was set to be heard on January 24, 2001. Swoope paid Leedom $250.00 for the representation. Leedom also agreed to take certain action regarding an alleged violation of a protective order pending in the Chesterfield Circuit Court against the father of Swoope(s child, which was set to be heard on December 14, 2000 [Chesterfield case].

3. Swoope sent Leedom faxes on November 9, 2000, November 20, 2000 and November 27, 2000 regarding the Chesterfield case.

4. Although Swoope expected Leedom to appear in the Chesterfield case on December 14, 2000, he did not do so. The Chesterfield case was continued to February 14, 2001.

5. On or about December 14, 2000, Swoope called Leedom(s office to talk with Leedom and spoke to someone named Cedric instead. Swoope asked Cedric why Leedom had not returned her telephone calls and was told Cedric would have Leedom contact Swoope. About a week later, having not heard from Leedom, Swoope again called Leedom(s office and reached Cedric. Swoope again inquired why Leedom was not answering her telephone calls. Swoope was informed that Leedom was in alcohol rehabilitation and another attorney was handling his cases. Swoope then decided to obtain new counsel.

6. On or about December 29, 2000, Swoope met with and retained Sherri
Thaxton, Esq. [Thaxton] to handle the Richmond case and paid Thaxton $200.00.

7. By her letter to the Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court for the City of Richmond dated January 23, 2001, Thaxton sought a continuance of the Richmond
case due to her schedule. In the letter Thaxton also stated that Leedom (...has apparently disappeared without leaving a forwarding address.(

8. On or about the night of January 23, 2001, Swoope received a telephone call
from an older man who said he worked with Leedom and was going to represent
Swoope at the hearing the next day.

9. The Richmond case was continued from January 24, 2002 and heard March 15,
2001. Swoope was convicted of vandalism.

10. In or about late March 2001, Leedom telephoned Swoope and, inter alia,
stated that he would refund to Swoope the retainer she had paid him for the Richmond
case. On March 27, 2001, Swoope wrote a letter to Leedom asking him to refund the
retainer by May 15, 2001 so she could pay court costs and fines associated with the Richmond case. In April Swoope saw Leedom at the Chesterfield Circuit Courthouse and Leedom told her he would send her a check.

11. In his April 3, 2001 letter in response to the bar complaint which is based
upon a report from a judge of a Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court, Leedom
stated, inter alia:
When I contacted [Swoope] regarding Judge Holton(s letter,
she told me that she had no problem, knew I had arranged
for counsel, and specifically refused my offer to return the
$250.00 she had paid on account towards my fee.

Swoope maintains that this statement regarding a refund is a lie.

12. In or about July 2001, Leedom did refund the $250.00 to Swoope.

13. Leedom deposited the $250.00 retainer paid by Swoope directly into his
operating account.

14. Leedom has a history of being either late or failing to appear for proceedings
in the Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court for the City of Richmond. That
history includes the following instances:

June 30, 1997;

Leedom failed to appear for two cases set at 9:00 a.m.
And 9:20 a.m. respectively. He called the court at 9:00 a.m.

May 6, 1998;

Leedom was late for court. The court received a message
from Leedom after the case was finished that he was in
Chesterfield.

May 19, 1998;

Leedom was late for court. The case was a 9:45 a.m. case
which was called at 9:50 a.m.

June 11, 1998;

Leedom failed to appear for a 9:15 a.m. case which was
called twice. Leedom called the court and indicated that
he had slept late, thought the power had gone out, and
apologized.

September 1, 1998;

Leedom was late for court. Leedom called the court and
Indicated he was on the way from Henrico, pavement
problems.

October 2, 1998;

Leedom failed to appear as a guardian ad litem in a case
which was called at 9:15 a.m. and 9:25 a.m. The case
was dismissed due to lack of appearance by parties.
Leedom appeared at 9:35 a.m. and apologized to the court.

October 16, 1998;

Leedom failed to appear in a case which had been continued
to this date and the file indicated Leedom had been
notified of the continuance date.

October 29, 1998;

Leedom failed to appear.

December 2, 1998;

Leedom was late for a case. Leedom had two cases in one
courtroom at 9:00 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. respectively and he
had another case in another courtroom scheduled for
9:55 a.m. The 9:00 a.m. case ran over. On Leedom(s
representation that the 9:55 a.m. case in the other court-
room would be short, he was allowed to go to the 9:55 a.m.
case before the 9:30 a.m. case. As of 10:20 a.m. Leedom
had not returned to the first courtroom for the 9:30 a.m. case.
Leedom was admonished not to schedule his cases so close
together. Leedom apologized to the court.

March 20, 2000;

Leedom failed to appear for a 10:35 a.m. case. Another
attorney eventually appeared saying Leedom had a
Scheduling difficulty. The case was heard two hours
late. Leedom informed the court that he was stuck in
Henrico in a case which he did not have in his docket
book.

15. Leedom was removed from the court-appointed list of the Juvenile and
Domestic Relations District Court for the City of Richmond for, inter alia, failures to
appear in court-appointed cases.

16. According to Leedom during that time, he was out of town on personal medical leave from December 8, 2000 until the beginning of February 2001. Leedom was actually in an alcoholism or substance abuse treatment program or facility during said time period.

II. NATURE OF MISCONDUCT

The parties agree that the foregoing facts give rise to violations of the following Disciplinary Rules:

DR 2-108. Terminating Representation.

(A) Except as stated in paragraph (C), a lawyer shall withdraw from representing a client if:

(1) Continuing the representation will result in a course of conduct by the lawyer that is illegal or inconsistent with the Disciplinary Rules; or

(2) The lawyer(s physical or mental condition materially impairs the lawyer from adequately representing the client; or

(C) In any court proceeding, counsel of record shall not withdraw except by leave of court after notice to the client of the time and place of a motion for leave to withdraw. In any other matter, a lawyer shall continue representation, notwithstanding good cause for terminating the representation, when ordered to do so by a tribunal.

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.

DR 9-102. Preserving Identity of Funds and Property of a Client.

(A) All funds received or held by a lawyer or law firm on behalf of a client, estate or a ward, residing in this State or from a transaction arising in this State, other than reimbursement of advances for costs and expenses, shall be deposited in one or more identifiable trust accounts and, as to client funds, maintained at a financial institution in a state in which the lawyer maintains a law office, 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.

(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 they are 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.

RULE 1.3 Diligence

(a) A lawyer shall act with reasonable diligence and promptness in
representing a client.

RULE 1.4 Communication

(a) A lawyer shall keep a client reasonably informed about the status of a
matter and promptly comply with reasonable requests for information.

RULE 1.15 Safekeeping Property

(c) A lawyer shall:

(1) promptly pay or deliver to the client or another as requested by such
person the funds, securities, or other properties in the possession of
The lawyer which such person is entitled to receive.

RULE 1.16 Declining or Terminating Representation

(a) Except as stated in paragraph (c), a lawyer shall not represent a client or,
where representation has commenced, shall withdraw from the
representation of a client if:

(1) the representation will result in violation of the Rules of
Professional Conduct or other law;

(2) the lawyer(s physical or mental condition materially impairs the
lawyer(s ability to represent the client; or

(a) In any proceeding, counsel of record shall not withdraw except by
leave of court after compliance with notice requirements pursuant to
applicable rules of court. In any other matter, a lawyer shall continue
representation notwithstanding good cause for terminating the
representation when ordered to do so by a tribunal.

I. Stipulations of Fact (continued)

VSB Docket No. 02-032-0968
Complainant: Craig Sampson, Esq.

18. On September 28, 2001, in the Circuit Court for the City of Richmond, Mr. Leedom
pled guilty to misdemeanor charges of trespass and destruction of property occurring on June 12,
2001. Pursuant to a plea agreement, the charges were reduced from felony indictments that charged him with burglary and grand larceny. The victim of the offenses was Mr. Leedom(s girlfriend. Pursuant to the plea agreement, the imposition of sentence was suspended for a period of three years, conditioned upon Mr. Leedom(s good behavior, completion of supervised probation, attendance at alcoholics anonymous, therapy with a psychiatrist, and completion of a Family Violence Counseling Prevention program.

19. On October 3, 2001, while he was on probation, Mr. Leedom was arrested again for assaulting his girlfriend, stealing her keys, and stealing her cellular telephone on October 2, 2001. He was also arrested for making lewd and threatening telephone calls to her on October 3, 2001. Following his arrest, he was held in the Richmond City Jail without bond until October 11, 2001.

20. On October 4, 2001, Mr. Leedom called his assistant and his receptionist from the jail. He instructed them to let his answering machine respond to any incoming calls, and to advise any client that came to the office that he (wasn(t available.( The attorney sharing office space with Mr. Leedom would say that seven of Mr. Leedom(s clients came to the office during that time looking for Mr. Leedom, and that some were irate. Mr. Leedom advised the bar that no one was handling his cases during this time, and that while he was incarcerated, he missed four hearing dates for clients who had retained him, and some other court-appointed hearings.

21. On December 18, 2001, Mr. Leedom appeared in the Richmond Circuit Court on a show-cause for violating the terms of probation from his September 28, 2001 plea agreement. Court personnel smelled an odor associated with alcohol on his breath, and advised the court. Mr. Leedom was given a breath test that revealed a blood alcohol content of nearly three times the legal limit for driving. The court found that he had violated the terms of his probation, and sentenced him to twelve months in jail on each of the charges.

22. On January 14, 2002, Mr. Leedom appeared in the Circuit Court for the City of Richmond on the charges of assault and battery, petit larceny, and using obscene language. Mr. Leedom had previously been convicted of these offenses in the district court and appealed the convictions to the circuit court. The court accepted his pleas of guilty to assault and battery, and using obscene language. He pled not guilty to the charge of petit larceny, however, the court found him guilty of that offense as well. He received active jail sentences of two months on the assault and battery, and three months on the petit larceny, to be served concurrently.

23. On October 16, 2001, Mr. Leedom endorsed a release of information permitting the Virginia State Bar investigator to speak with Lawyers Helping Lawyers about Mr. Leedom. Thereafter, Mr. Leedom failed to keep several appointments with the Virginia State Bar investigator. The last appointment was scheduled for November 1,2001. On November 1, 2001, he called the investigator to say that he was in court and that his case had not been called, but that he hoped to meet the investigator later that day. The investigator(s caller ID, however, indicated that Mr. Leedom placed the call from his home.
24. Pursuant to the release executed by Mr. Leedom, the investigator spoke with Lawyers Helping Lawyers, and ascertained that Mr. Leedom had entered into a contract with Lawyers Helping Lawyers following a referral from the Richmond Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court in 1999. That referral resulted from Mr, Leedom appearing at court with an odor associated with alcohol on his breath. He relapsed and was in violation of the contract, alcohol and cocaine abuse noted. Between 2000 and 2001, Mr. Leedom participated in a series of inpatient programs, but relapsed on each occasion.

II. NATURE OF MISCONDUCT

The parties agree that the foregoing facts give rise to violations of the following Disciplinary Rules:

RULE 1.3 Diligence

(a) A lawyer shall act with reasonable diligence and promptness in representing a client.

RULE 1.4 Communication

(a) A lawyer shall keep a client reasonably informed about the status of a matter and promptly comply with reasonable requests for information.

RULE 8.4 Misconduct

It is professional misconduct for a lawyer to:

(a) commit a criminal or deliberately wrongful act that reflects adversely on the lawyer's honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer
engage in professional conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation;

I. Stipulations of Fact (continued)

VSB Docket No. 02-032-1140
Complainant: Connie Horn-St. Clair

25. On November 21, 2000, Connie Horn St. Clair (Horn) hired Mr. Leedom to represent
her in a child custody matter pending in the Powhatan Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court. Mr. Leedom(s records reflect that she paid him $350 for the representation.

26. Trial was held on April 11, 2000. The court determined that Horn was an unfit mother, and awarded custody to Horn(s former spouse. Mr. Leedom noted an appeal. Following a series of continuances, trial was scheduled for October 9, 2001 in the Powhatan Circuit Court. Mr. Leedom was incarcerated in the Richmond City Jail from October 3 to October 12, 2001. On October 9, 2001, the case came to trial. Horn appeared, but Mr. Leedom did not appear because of his incarceration. Having been unable to reach Mr. Leedom, Horn had no idea where he was, and asked for a continuance. The court refused, however, because of the prior continuances, and forced Horn to proceed without a lawyer. The court sustained the prior decision of the Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court.

27. On October 10, 2001, Horn went to Mr. Leedom(s office and learned for the first time that he had been incarcerated. She left a written request for the return of her file by October 17, 2001. Receiving no response, she complained to the bar on October 23, 2001. Mr. Leedom met with the Virginia State Bar investigator on November 15, 2001, and provided the file. Horn received her file after the bar investigator copied and sent it to her in December 2001.

28. Horn would say that Mr. Leedom missed several appointments, and that he had an odor associated with alcohol on his breath when he appeared in court.

II. NATURE OF MISCONDUCT

The parties agree that the foregoing facts give rise to violations of the following Disciplinary Rules:

RULE 1.1 Competence

A lawyer shall provide competent representation to a client. Competent representation requires the legal knowledge, skill, thoroughness and preparation reasonably necessary for the representation.

RULE 1.4 Communication


(a) A lawyer shall keep a client reasonably informed about the status of a matter and promptly comply with reasonable requests for information.

RULE 1.16 Declining Or Terminating Representation

(a) Except as stated in paragraph (c), a lawyer shall not represent a client or, where representation has commenced, shall withdraw from the representation of a client if:

(1) the lawyer's physical or mental condition materially impairs the lawyer's ability to represent the client; or

(a) Upon termination of representation, a lawyer shall take steps to the extent reasonably practicable to protect a client's interests, such as giving reasonable notice to the client, allowing time for employment of other counsel, refunding any advance payment of fee that has not been earned and handling records as indicated in paragraph (e).

I. Stipulations of Fact (continued)

VSB Docket No. 02-032-1240
Complainant: Asson Johnson

29. In 2000 and 2001, Mr. Leedom provided representation to Asson Johnson in various
criminal and child support matters. Mr. Leedom would receive the fees, costs and support payments from a trust fund maintained for Mr. Johnson(s benefit in the state of Ohio.

30. On September 23, 2000, Mr. Johnson was arrested in Chesterfield County and charged with two counts of misdemeanor possession of marijuana and one count of distributing marijuana to a minor, a felony. Mr. Leedom made an entry of appearance in the Chesterfield County General District Court. On November 9, 2000, the court convicted Mr. Thomas of the two misdemeanor charges and certified the felony charge to the grand jury. Mr. Leedom noted appeals of the misdemeanor convictions to the circuit court. By letter, dated December 4, 2000, the Circuit Court advised Mr. Leedom that he was counsel of record in the cases. Trial was set for February 22, 2001.

31. On February 22, 2001, the case was called for trial. Neither Mr. Leedom nor his client was present. The court issued a capias for the arrest of Mr. Thomas, and rescheduled the trial for March 12, 2001. On March 12, 2001, Mr. Johnson appeared, however, Mr. Leedom
once again failed to appear. The Court called Mr Leedom, who indicated no knowledge of the trial date, and rescheduled it for March 29, 2001.

32. On March 29, 2001, Mr. Leedom and his client appeared; however, Mr. Leedom asked for more time to negotiate with the prosecutor. The Court denied his request, and Mr. Leedom entered a plea of guilty on behalf of his client. Sentencing took place on July 12, 2001, and Mr. Thomas was sentenced to 20 years in prison, with 19 suspended.

33. On April 23, 2001, pursuant to Mr. Leedom(s request, Mr. Thomas( trustee obtained permission from the court to distribute $18,498.46 of Mr. Thomas( trust funds to Mr. Leedom. Of the funds, $729.21 was for the payment of fines and court costs, $6,969.25 was for the payment of child support arrearages, $1,200 was for back rent, and the remaining $10,800 was for Mr. Leedom(s legal fees, $10,000 of which was for the previously referenced representation in Chesterfield County. Although the Chesterfield case was still pending at the time, and the rest of the funds belonged either to his client or other parties, Mr. Leedom deposited the entire trust fund check into his operating account. Thereafter, he transferred $6,969.25 to his trust account and made a check in the same amount to the Department of Child Support Enforcement.

34. Mr. Thomas complained that throughout the matter, Mr. Leedom failed to communicate with him or respond to his telephone calls.

II. NATURE OF MISCONDUCT

The parties agree that the foregoing facts give rise to violations of the following Disciplinary Rules:

RULE 1.3 Diligence

(a) A lawyer shall act with reasonable diligence and promptness in representing a client.

RULE 1.4 Communication


(a) A lawyer shall keep a client reasonably informed about the status of a matter and promptly comply with reasonable requests for information.

RULE 1.15 Safekeeping Property

(b) 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:

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

(3) 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.

VSB Docket No. 02-032-1439
Complainant: Alvin Scarborough

I. Stipulations of Fact (continued)

35. On September 4, 2001, Alvin Scarborough hired Mr. Leedom to represent him in a divorce and property settlement matter. He signed a fee agreement and paid Mr. Leedom $2,100 with his credit card. Mr. Leedom did not deposit the funds into his attorney trust account. A hearing was already scheduled to take place in the Richmond Circuit Court in September 2001. Mr. Leedom contacted opposing counsel and arranged a continuance to October 5, 2001.

36. From October 3, 2001, to October 12, 2001, Mr. Leedom was incarcerated in the Richmond City Jail. On October 5, 2001, the Circuit Court for the City of Richmond called Mr. Scarborough(s case. Mr. Scarborough was present, however, Mr. Leedom failed to appear. Mr. Scarborough advised the court that he had no idea where his attorney was. The court allowed him to call Mr. Leedom(s office, where a staff member simply told him that Mr. Leedom was not there, and that she did not know where he was. The court denied Mr. Scarborough(s motion to continue the matter, and forced him to proceed without an attorney. The court made a final ruling on the divorce that day.

37. Thereafter, Mr. Scarborough made several efforts to contact Mr. Leedom, but could not reach him. Mr. Leedom did not return his calls. During November 2001, Mr. Scarborough went to Mr. Leedom(s office without an appointment, found Mr. Leedom, and asked him for a refund. Mr. Leedom wrote a note to the effect that the credit card should be credited back, but did not give his client a copy. He never told his client why he failed to appear in court.

II. NATURE OF MISCONDUCT

The parties agree that the foregoing facts give rise to violations of the following Disciplinary Rules:

RULE 1.3 Diligence

(c) A lawyer shall act with reasonable diligence and promptness in representing a client.

(b) A lawyer shall not intentionally fail to carry out a contract of employment entered into with a client for professional services, but may withdraw as permitted under Rule 1.16.

RULE 1.4 Communication


(a) A lawyer shall keep a client reasonably informed about the status of a matter and promptly comply with reasonable requests for information.

RULE 1.15 Safekeeping Property

(d) 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:

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

(5) 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.

RULE 1.16 Declining Or Terminating Representation

(a) Upon termination of representation, a lawyer shall take steps to the extent reasonably practicable to protect a client's interests, such as giving reasonable notice to the client, allowing time for employment of other counsel, refunding any advance payment of fee that has not been earned and handling records as indicated in paragraph (e).

VSB Docket No. 02-032-2170
Complainant: Beverly R. Haynesworth

38. On August 8, 2001 Beverly R. Haynesworth hired Mr. Leedom to represent her in a
child custody matter. Ms. Haynesworth had already filed a petition in the Richmond Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court, and a hearing was scheduled for September 10, 2001. The child was with the father at the time. Ms. Haynesworth wanted Mr. Leedom to take whatever action was necessary to obtain temporary custody so that she could enroll her child in the Henrico County Schools, the district where she resided. Mr. Leedom agreed to work the case for $1500. Ms. Haynesworth paid him a total of $900 between August 8 and September 4, 2001, as reflected by Mr. Leedom(s receipts.

39. Prior to the hearing, Ms. Haynesworth felt that Mr. Leedom had done nothing toward her request for temporary custody or enrolling her child in the Henrico County Schools. On September 9, 2001, she spoke to Mr. Leedom, who said that he would meet her at the courthouse on the 10th. Ms. Haynesworth appeared at the hearing as scheduled. Mr. Leedom, however, failed to appear, and the case was continued to October 9, 2001.

40. Mr. Leedom told Ms. Haynesworth that he failed to appear at the hearing because of personal reasons, and offered to reduce his fee by $250. He said that he would be at the hearing on October 9, 2001, and told her to be there 15 minutes early. Once again, Ms. Haynesworth appeared at the hearing as directed, but Mr. Leedom failed to appear. (Mr. Leedom was incarcerated from October 3 to October 12, 2001.) The case was continued again to February 25, 2002. Ms. Haynesworth called Mr. Leedom everyday, but he did not return her calls. In December 2001, she called and discovered that his telephone had been disconnected..

41. On February 25, 2002, Ms. Haynesworth appeared with another attorney, and the court awarded her custody. She enrolled her child in the Henrico public schools. Until that time, her child had been enrolled in the Richmond public schools. Mr. Leedom(s office had no file to return to Ms. Haynesworth, and her name was not on the client list. Ms. Haynesworth never received any refund of her $900.

II. NATURE OF MISCONDUCT

The parties agree that the foregoing facts give rise to violations of the following Disciplinary Rules:

RULE 1.3 Diligence

(a) A lawyer shall act with reasonable diligence and promptness in representing a client.
(d) A lawyer shall not intentionally fail to carry out a contract of employment entered into with a client for professional services, but may withdraw as permitted under Rule 1.16.

RULE 1.4 Communication

(a) A lawyer shall keep a client reasonably informed about the status of a matter and promptly comply with reasonable requests for information.

RULE 1.15 Safekeeping Property

(a) A lawyer shall:

promptly pay or deliver to the client or another as requested by such person the funds, securities, or other properties in the possession of the lawyer which such person is entitled to receive.

RULE 1.16 Declining Or Terminating Representation

(b) Upon termination of representation, a lawyer shall take steps to the extent reasonably practicable to protect a client's interests, such as giving reasonable notice to the client, allowing time for employment of other counsel, refunding any advance payment of fee that has not been earned and handling records as indicated in paragraph (e).

I. Stipulations of Fact (continued)

VSB Docket No. 02-032-2292
Complainant: Thomas R. Duck

42. On May 31, 2001, Thomas R. Duck hired Mr. Leedom, his long-term attorney, to
complete his divorce. Mr. Duck and his wife previously separated on December 10, 2000, and executed a property settlement agreement on May 29, 2001. There were no children born of the marriage. Mr. Leedom agreed to handle the matter for $464, saying that it would be a simple matter. Mr. Duck paid Mr. Leedom the $464 by check on May 31, 2001.

43. During the course of the following summer and fall, Mr. Duck would call Mr. Leedom periodically to ascertain the status of the case. Mr. Leedom would tell him that he was working on it, but that he was busy with other cases. On an unknown date before Christmas, 2001, Mr. Duck received a call from Mr. Leedom(s assistant, advising him that the paperwork on his case was completed and that he needed to come to the office to sign (some papers.( When Mr. Duck went to Mr. Leedom(s office, he found it closed and locked, and learned that Mr. Leedom(s telephone had been disconnected. Subsequently, he ascertained that Mr. Leedom was incarcerated, and complained to the Virginia State Bar.

44. By letter, dated March 20, 2002, Mr. Leedom(s attorney advised Mr. Duck that Mr. Leedom was no longer practicing law, and that he could pick up his file. Mr. Leedom(s file reflected that his staff had redrafted the property settlement agreement, but that no action had been taken toward the filing of a bill of complaint for divorce, although there was a note in the file that read, (Also client (Tom) paid in full - so please draft + file divorce.(

45. Mr. Duck never received a refund of his advanced fee.


II. NATURE OF MISCONDUCT

The parties agree that the foregoing facts give rise to violations of the following Disciplinary Rules:

RULE 1.3 Diligence

(a) A lawyer shall act with reasonable diligence and promptness in representing a client.

(b) A lawyer shall not intentionally fail to carry out a contract of employment entered into with a client for professional services, but may withdraw as permitted under Rule 1.16.

RULE 1.4 Communication


(a) A lawyer shall keep a client reasonably informed about the status of a matter and promptly comply with reasonable requests for information.

RULE 1.15 Safekeeping Property


(b) 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:

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

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:

(1) promptly pay or deliver to the client or another as requested by such person the funds, securities, or other properties in the possession of the lawyer which such person is entitled to receive.

RULE 1.16 Declining Or Terminating Representation

(a) Upon termination of representation, a lawyer shall take steps to the extent reasonably practicable to protect a client's interests, such as giving reasonable notice to the client, allowing time for employment of other counsel, refunding any advance payment of fee that has not been earned and handling records as indicated in paragraph (e).

I. Stipulations of Fact (continued)

VSB Docket No. 02-032-2734
Complainant: Carl Wells

46. On August 7, 2001, Joanne and Carl Wells hired Mr. Leedom to represent them in
their efforts to obtain visitation with their grandchildren. They paid Mr. Leedom a fee of $3000 drawn on their credit card. Mr. Leedom told Mr. and Mrs. Wells that they had a good case, and that he would file a petition for visitation and joint custody. Mr. Leedom did not deposit the funds into his attorney trust account.

47. Thereafter, on several occasions Mr. and Mrs. Wells called Mr. Leedom to ascertain the status of the matter, but he did not return their calls. Toward the end of August 2001, Mr. Leedom called Mrs. Wells and told her that he had filed the petitions, but that the courts were backed up because of September 11, and that the case would be heard around Thanksgiving. Mr. and Mrs. Wells heard nothing further from Mr. Leedom. Mrs. Wells called him shortly after Thanksgiving, and Mr. Leedom said that the case would be heard on December 10. Mr. Leedom called Mrs. Wells a few days later and said that the case would not be heard on December 10, and that he was still awaiting a court date. He said that he was moving his office, and that the telephone company had (screwed up( and disconnected his telephone. He gave Mrs. Wells another telephone number, saying that he could be contacted at that number at any time.

48. Having heard nothing from Mr. Leedom, Mrs. Wells called the number around Christmas and learned that Mr. Leedom was incarcerated. She was advised to call another attorney, who promised to get back to her, but never did. Mr. and Mrs. Wells never learned whether Mr. Leedom had done anything on their behalf.

49. Mr. Leedom advised the Virginia State Bar investigator that he never filed the petitions. He said that he was released from the Richmond City Jail on March 29, 2002 and was enrolled in two different outpatient programs that he attended four times a week. He also said that he attended Alcoholics Anonymous and was scheduled to begin an anger management program.

50. The clerk of the Henrico County Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court advised the Virginia State Bar investigator that the court was not backed up because of September 11, and that it was (business as usual.(

II. NATURE OF MISCONDUCT

The parties agree that the foregoing facts give rise to violations of the following Disciplinary Rules:

RULE 1.3 Diligence


(a) A lawyer shall act with reasonable diligence and promptness in representing a client.

(b) A lawyer shall not intentionally fail to carry out a contract of employment entered into with a client for professional services, but may withdraw as permitted under Rule 1.16.

RULE 1.4 Communication


(a) A lawyer shall keep a client reasonably informed about the status of a matter and promptly comply with reasonable requests for information.

RULE 1.15 Safekeeping Property


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 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.

RULE 1.16 Declining Or Terminating Representation

(a) Upon termination of representation, a lawyer shall take steps to the extent reasonably practicable to protect a client's interests, such as giving reasonable notice to the client, allowing time for employment of other counsel, refunding any advance payment of fee that has not been earned and handling records as indicated in paragraph (e).

RULE 8.4 Misconduct

It is professional misconduct for a lawyer to:

(a) engage in professional conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation;

I. Stipulations of Fact (continued)

02-032-2976
Complainant: Rosa M. Penaloza

51. On August 1, 2000, Rosa M. Pendaloza hired Mr. Leedom to represent her in divorce
and custody matters pending in the Richmond Circuit Court. The written engagement agreement provided for a $1,500 flat fee. She paid $800 on August 7, 2000, $400 more on August 17, 2000, and an additional $600 on September 29, 2000, according to Mr. Leedom(s receipts. Mr. Leedom filed a response to the husband(s bill of complaint, and filed a petition for pendente lite relief. Thereafter, Ms. Penaloza had two hearings in the Richmond Circuit Court that Mr. Leedom did not attend.

52. For one of the hearings, held in April 2001, Mr. Leedom sent another attorney, Conrad Lewane, to represent Ms. Penaloza without advising her in advance. Ms. Penaloza had never met Mr. Lewane. Mr. Leedom advised the Virginia State Bar that he asked Mr. Lewane to attend because he had a hearing in another court at the same time. Mr. Lewane, however, advised the Virginia State Bar that Mr. Leedom asked him to attend because Leedom was in a treatment facility. (Mr. Leedom did advise the bar that he was in the Harrison House treatment program in Northern Virginia from December 2000 until he was (kicked out( in March 2001 for drinking.) Mr. Leedom(s request to appear was so late that Mr. Lewane had to appear in court without a necktie, drawing a comment from the bench about his attire.

53. Ms. Penaloza would say that she was unable to reach Mr. Leedom in the summer and fall of 2001. Unable to reach him, she went to his office in the fall of 2001, and was informed that he had not been in the office for days. She called his home and learned for the first time that he was incarcerated. Likewise the husband(s attorney, Christian A. Parrish, said that Mr. Leedom was not responding to his correspondence concerning visitation. For this reason, he scheduled a hearing to take place on September 10, 2001. Meanwhile the guardian ad litem, Robin Morgan, prepared a consent order of visitation indicating that Ms. Penaloza was pro se. Although he was her counsel, Mr. Leedom endorsed the order on September 5, 2001, and forwarded it to counsel. The court entered the order on October 12, 2001.

54. On March 20, 2002, another attorney sent a letter to Ms. Penaloza, advising her that Mr. Leedom was no longer practicing law, that he could not finish her case, and that she could pick up her file from this attorney. Ms. Pendaloza retrieved her file and ascertained that her

husband(s attorney had sent a draft separation agreements to Mr. Leedom on August 17, 2001 and September 12, 2001. Mr. Leedom never provided Ms. Penaloza with copies of the drafts, and she had no idea that Mr. Leedom had received them. (Mr. Leedom would say that he advised her about the drafts, but that they were not what she wanted.)

55. Ms. Penaloza had to hire another attorney to complete her divorce. Mr. Leedom never refunded any of her advanced fees.

56. Mr. Leedom advised the Virginia State Bar investigator that he had been convicted in the Henrico County Circuit Court for drunken driving, but that the court held the matter over. He said that when he was discharged from the Harrison House for drinking, the court sentenced him to 20 days in jail, and that he served the time during October 2001.

II. NATURE OF MISCONDUCT

The parties agree that the foregoing facts give rise to violations of the following Disciplinary Rules:

RULE 1.3 Diligence

(a) A lawyer shall act with reasonable diligence and promptness in representing a client.

(b) A lawyer shall not intentionally fail to carry out a contract of employment entered into with a client for professional services, but may withdraw as permitted under Rule 1.16.

RULE 1.4 Communication


(a) A lawyer shall keep a client reasonably informed about the status of a matter and promptly comply with reasonable requests for information.

RULE 1.16 Declining Or Terminating Representation

(a) Upon termination of representation, a lawyer shall take steps to the extent reasonably practicable to protect a client's interests, such as giving reasonable notice to the client, allowing time for employment of other counsel, refunding any advance payment of fee that has not been earned and handling records as indicated in paragraph (e).

RULE 8.4 Misconduct

It is professional misconduct for a lawyer to:

(a) commit a criminal or deliberately wrongful act that reflects adversely on the lawyer's honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer;

engage in professional conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation;

III. DISPOSITION

The facts and Rule violations set out above are true and constitute Misconduct in this and all subsequent proceedings regarding this Respondent. Counsel for the Respondent and the Virginia State Bar having advised the Board during the telephone conference that the foregoing provision is acceptable, it is the decision of the Board to accept this Agreed Disposition.
The Respondent and his counsel having agreed that Mr. Leedom does not desire to practice law at this time because he suffers from a Disability as set forth in Paragraphs 13(A) and (I)(5), Part 6, Section IV, of the Rules of the Supreme Court of Virginia, that the Respondent suffered from the same disability at all times relevant to the complaints involved in these proceedings, and the Respondent having consented to the Board entering an Order suspending his license to practice law in the Commonwealth of Virginia for an indefinite period of time because of the Disability, in accordance with Paragraph 13(I)(5),

The Respondent(s license to practice law in the Commonwealth of Virginia is hereby SUSPENDED for an INDEFINITE PERIOD OF TIME, in accordance with Paragraph 13(I)(5), Part 6, Section IV of the Rules of the Supreme Court of Virginia immediately upon the entry of this Order, retroactive to May 14, 2002, when Mr. Leedom was released from jail, Mr. Leedom having not practiced law since that time.

Further, in accordance with the Agreed Disposition, all records relating to the Respondent's disability and treatment are admissible and shall be incorporated in the Board's file.
In accordance with Paragraph 13(I)(5).e.2, the Respondent may seek to terminate this Disability suspension upon application to the Board; however, the burden of proving the termination of the Disability shall be on the Respondent, in accordance with Paragraph 13(I)(5).b. In accordance with Paragraph 13(I)(5).e.2, the Board shall hold a hearing on the issue of termination of the Disability upon receipt of a request from the Respondent. The suspension shall be terminated only upon determination by the Board that the disability no longer exists. Further, in accordance with the Agreed Disposition, the Board may impose discipline for the stipulated misconduct in the event the Respondent(s license to practice law is restored. The Board, however, may also consider the finding of Disability as mitigation if it finds that the stipulated misconduct resulted from the Disability.

It is ORDERED pursuant to the provisions of Part Six, Section IV, Paragraph 13(M) of the Rules of the Supreme Court of Virginia, that the Respondent shall forthwith give notice by certified mail, return receipt requested, of the suspension of his license to practice law in the Commonwealth of Virginia, to all clients for whom he is currently handling matters and to all opposing attorneys and presiding judges in pending litigation. The Attorney shall also make appropriate arrangements for the disposition of matters then in his care in conformity with the wishes of his clients. The Attorney shall give such notice within fourteen (14) days of the effective date of the suspension order, and make such arrangements as are required herein within forty-five (45) days of the effective date of the suspension order. The Attorney shall furnish proof to the bar within sixty (60) days of the effective date of the suspension order that such notices have been timely given and such arrangement for the disposition of matters made. Issues concerning the adequacy of the notice and arrangements required herein shall be determined by the Disciplinary Board, which may impose a sanction of revocation or suspension for failure to comply with the requirements of this subparagraph.

A copy teste of this Order shall be served upon the Respondent, George Elridge Leedom, Jr., by Certified Mail, Return Receipt Requested, at 2503-A Stuart Place, Richmond, Virginia 23220, his address of record with the Virginia State Bar, by regular mail to his counsel, Joseph W. Kaestner, at 406 West Franklin Street 23218-2462, Richmond, Virginia 23218, his address of record with the Virginia State Bar, and by hand to Edward L. Davis, Assistant Bar Counsel, at the Virginia State Bar.

ENTERED THIS _________ DAY OF ___________, 2003
THE VIRGINIA STATE BAR DISCIPLINARY BOARD


BY ______________________________________________
ROBERT L. FREED, ESQUIRE
SECOND VICE-CHAIR