VIRGINIA:

BEFORE THE THIRD DISTRICT COMMITTEE, SECTION I,

OF THE VIRGINIA STATE BAR



IN THE MATTER OF SUZANNE ELIZABETH MACPHERSON-JOHNSON

VSB DOCKET NO. 02-031-0051



DISTRICT COMMITTEE DETERMINATION

(PUBLIC REPRIMAND)

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.

Notice of the hearing was provided to the respondent Suzanne Elizabeth Macpherson-Johnson by certified mail pursuant to Part Six, Section IV, Paragraph 13.H.1.a.of the Rules of Court. The notice was returned to the bar unclaimed. The respondent did not appear for the hearing. 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 serves upon the respondent the following Public Reprimand with Terms:


I. Findings of Fact

1. Until October 26, 1998, Suzanne Elizabeth Macpherson-Johnson was an associate member, in good standing, of the Virginia State Bar.

2. By order entered June 14, 2001, the Delaware Supreme Court imposed a public reprimand, with conditions, including a two-year probationary period, upon Ms. Macpherson-Johnson for ethical misconduct.

3. The order of the Delaware Supreme Court approves a report that the Delaware Board on Professional Responsibility filed on May 30, 2001, finding inter alia that:


a.
While practicing law as an attorney in Delaware, Ms. Macpherson-Johnson failed to file returns or forms and did not pay any federal or state payroll taxes owed for her Delaware law practice from January 1, 1998 through July 25, 2000.

b. Despite her failure to pay these taxes, Ms. Macpherson-Johnson filed Certificates of Compliance with the Delaware Supreme Court for years 1999, 1998 and 2000, indicating that "all federal, state and local payroll, gross receipts and income taxes have been filed and paid on a timely basis."

 

II. Findings of Misconduct

With respect to the charges of misconduct based upon Ms. Macpherson-Johnson's conduct before January 1, 2000, the Third District Committee, Section I, finds that she has violated the following disciplinary rules:

DR 1-101. Maintaining Integrity and Competence of the Legal Profession.

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(B) A lawyer is subject to discipline if he has made a materially false statement in any certification required to be filed as a condition of maintaining or renewing his license to practice law.


DR 1-102. Misconduct.

(A) A lawyer shall not:

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(4) Engage in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation which reflects adversely on a lawyer's fitness to practice law.



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

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(B) A lawyer shall:

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(4) 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.


DR 9-103. Record Keeping Requirements.

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(B) Required Trust Accounting Procedures: The following minimum trust accounting procedures are applicable to all trust accounts maintained by lawyers or law firms holding funds on behalf of clients who reside in this State, or from a transaction arising in this State, whether or not the lawyer or law firm maintains an office in this State.


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(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 trust account balance of the client or other person at the end of each period.

(a) 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 trust for the period and deducting the total of trust monies disbursed for the period.

(b) The trial balance shall identify the preparer and be approved by the attorney or one of the attorneys in the firm.

(5) Reconciliations:

(a) 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 trust account checkbook balance, and the trust account bank statement balance.

(b) 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.

(c) Reconciliations shall identify the preparer and be approved by the attorney or one of the attorneys in the firm.


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With respect to the charges of misconduct based upon Ms. Macpherson-Johnson's conduct after December 31, 1999, the Third District Committee, Section I, finds that she has violated the following disciplinary rules:


RULE 1.15 Safekeeping Property

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(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.

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(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.

(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.

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RULE 8.1 Bar Admission And Disciplinary Matters

An applicant for admission to the bar, or a lawyer in connection with a bar admission application, in connection with any certification required to be filed as a condition of maintaining or renewing a license to practice law, in connection with a disciplinary matter, shall not:

(a) knowingly make a false statement of material fact;

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RULE 8.4 Misconduct

It is professional misconduct for a lawyer to:

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

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III. Sanction for Misconduct

Accordingly, based upon the clear and convincing evidence of ethical misconduct as found by the Supreme Court of Delaware and this committee, it is the decision of the Third District Committee, Section I, to issue a Public Reprimand with Terms to the Respondent in this matter. The terms imposed shall consist of the terms probation that the Respondent stipulated to on April 11, 2001, and that the Supreme Court of Delaware approved.

If the Clerk of the Disciplinary System receives notice that the Supreme Court of Delaware has suspended the Respondent for failure to comply with the terms of probation and suspends the Respondent, a reciprocal disciplinary proceeding shall be initiated pursuant to Part Six, Section IV, Paragraph 13.I.6. of the Rules of Court.

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 with Terms) was mailed on the ________ day of ________, 2002, by certified mail, return receipt requested to P.O. Box 813, 301 South Governors Avenue, Dover, Delaware 19903-0813, respondent's last address of record with the Virginia State Bar.







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