VIRGINIA:

VIRGINIA STATE BAR DISCIPLINARY BOARD

 

 

IN THE MATTER OF ANTOINE IAN MANN, ESQUIRE

VSB Docket # 04-000-1341

 

ORDER OF SUSPENSION

This matter came to be heard on December 29, 2003, via telephone conference call, on an Agreement to Imposition of Reciprocal Discipline and a Rule to Show Cause and Order of Suspension and Hearing issued against Antoine Ian Mann, Esquire, (ìRespondentî). This matter was heard by a duly convened panel of the Virginia State Bar Disciplinary Board (the ìBoardî) consisting of Roscoe B. Stephenson, III, presiding, Chester J. Cahoon, Jr., Robert E. Eicher, Glenn M. Hodge, and Ann N. Kathan.

Marian L. Beckett, Esquire, appeared on behalf of the Virginia State Bar, and the Respondent, Antoine Ian Mann, Esquire, appeared through and by his guardian ad litem, Gordon P. Peyton, Esquire, and presented an endorsed Agreed Disposition.

            The court reporter for the proceeding, Donna Chandler of Chandler & Halasz, P.O. Box 9349, Richmond, Virginia, 23227, (804) 730-1222, was duly sworn by Mr. Stephenson.

Each member of the panel stated on the record that he or she had no business or financial interest and no personal bias that would impair his or her ability to hear the matter fairly and impartially.

            FINDINGS OF FACT

            Having considered the Rule to Show Cause and Agreement to Imposition of Reciprocal Discipline with attachments, it is the unanimous decision of the Disciplinary Board that the Agreement to Imposition of Reciprocal Discipline be accepted and the Board finds by clear and convincing evidence as follows:

1.         Respondent was licensed to practice law within the Commonwealth of Virginia on January 11, 1995. At all times relevant hereto, the Respondent has been an attorney licensed to practice law in the Commonwealth of Virginia. At all times relevant hereto and until September 23, 2003 the Respondent has been an attorney licensed to practice law in the state of Maryland.

2.              On September 23, 2003, the Court of Appeals for the state of Maryland indefinitely suspended Respondentís right to practice law in that jurisdiction. The suspension arose subsequent to the filing of charges against the Respondent at the request of the Maryland Review Board and/ or the Maryland Attorney Grievance Commission related to eight (8) complaints of misconduct. Before the hearing on the merits of these complaints, the Respondent agreed to a Joint Petition for Indefinite Suspension by Consent. According to the Joint Petition, the parties agreed to an indefinite suspension ìdue to Respondentís psychological and/ or psychotic problems that cannot be diagnosed at this time due to Respondentís abuse of alcohol.î In addition, the Joint Petition states that the Respondent consented to an indefinite suspension ìbecause he knows if a hearing were to be held, sufficient evidence could be produced to sustain the allegations of misconduct.î

3.         The disciplinary action of the Court of Appeals of Maryland constituted a final decision.

4.              By Rule to Show Cause and Order of Suspension and Hearing dated November 14, 2003, Respondentís license to practice law in Virginia was immediately suspended pursuant to Paragraph 13(G), Part Six, ß IV of the Rules of the Supreme Court of Virginia, as amended, and the Respondent was ordered to appear before the Virginia State Bar Disciplinary Board at 9:00 a.m. on December 12, 2003, to show cause why his license to practice law within the Commonwealth of Virginia should not be further suspended or revoked. He was further ordered pursuant to the provisions of Paragraph 13, Part Six, ß IV, Paragraph 13(M) of the Rules of the Supreme Court of Virginia, as amended, to 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 was currently handling matters and to all opposing attorneys and presiding judges in pending litigation; and to make appropriate arrangements for the disposition of matters then in his care in conformity with the wishes of clients. It was further ordered that unless counsel for the Respondent entered an appearance with the Disciplinary Board within ten (10) days of the mailing date of the November 14, 2003 order, the Disciplinary Board would appoint a guardian ad litem to represent the Respondent at the hearing.

5.              On November 17, 2003, pursuant to this Boardís Show Cause Order and Order of Suspension and Hearing, Respondent was provided with notice of the hearing on December 12, 2003, by certified mail, return receipt requested, at his address of record with the Virginia State Bar, P.O. Box 831, Frederick, Maryland, 21705.

6.              No counsel for the Respondent entered an appearance with the Disciplinary Board and by Order dated November 19, 2003, the Disciplinary Board appointed Gordon P. Peyton, Esquire to serve as guardian ad litem for the Respondent.

7.              On December 9, 2003, three, (3), days prior to the scheduled hearing, the Respondent stated he wished to consent to the imposition of reciprocal discipline.

8.              On December 10, 2003, a Joint Motion for Extension of Time to Reach an Agreed Disposition was filed by Assistant Bar Counsel and the Respondentís Guardian ad litem, requesting an extension of time for one week from the December 12, 2003 scheduled hearing date to accomplish an agreed disposition of reciprocal discipline. The Motion was granted and the matter was resolved by close of business on December 19, 2003.

DECISION OF THE BOARD

Paragraph 13(I)(6)(e), Part Six, ß IV of the Rules of the Supreme Court of Virginia, as amended, entitled ìDisbarment or Suspension in Another Jurisdictionî provides in relevant part:

Ö The Respondent shall have the burden of proof, by a clear and convincing evidentiary standard Ö and shall be limited to at the hearing to proof of the specific contentions raised in any written response. Ö Except to the extent the allegations of the written response are established, the findings in the other jurisdiction shall be conclusive of all matters for the purposes of the Proceeding before the Board.

 

Paragraph 13(I)(6)(f) states in pertinent part:

If the Respondent has not filed a timely written response, or does not appear at the hearing or if the Board, after a hearing, determines that the Respondent has failed to establish the contentions of the written response by clear and convincing evidence, the Board shall impose the same discipline as was imposed in the other jurisdiction. Ö .

 

The instant case requires analysis of both parts (I)(6)(e) and (I)(6)(f) of Paragraph 13 of Part Six, ß IV of the Rules of the Supreme Court, as amended. Pursuant to Paragraph 13(I)(6)(e), the Respondent did file a written response in the form of an Agreement to the Imposition of Reciprocal Discipline, consenting to an indefinite suspension of his license to practice law in the Commonwealth of Virginia. No facts requiring proof by a clear and convincing evidentiary standard were alleged, other than those recited in the Maryland Attorney Grievance Commissionís Petition for Disciplinary or Remedial Action and/ or the Maryland Joint Petition for Indefinite Suspension by Consent. As the Respondent did not challenge any of the facts alleged in those two pleadings, and in the absence of any contrary contentions, the findings of the Maryland jurisdiction are therefore considered conclusive of all matters for the purposes of this Proceeding before the Board.

Pursuant to Paragraph 13(I)(6)(f), the Respondent did file a timely written response, again in the form of an Agreement to the Imposition of Reciprocal Discipline, which included no contentions that his license to practice law in the Commonwealth of Virginia should not be subject to reciprocal discipline.

To the Boardís knowledge, this is a case of first impression for the reason that it involves both the imposition of an indefinite suspension as reciprocal discipline absent a documented disability, and an agreed disposition with the consent, cooperation and involvement of the Respondent.

With the exception of Paragraph 13(F) entitled ìDisability,î Paragraph 13 does not explicitly provide for an indefinite suspension of an attorneyís license to practice law in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The instant case is not brought before the Board as a pure disability case, as language alluding to both ìdisabilityî and ìmisconductî is included in the Maryland Joint Petition and is therefore of necessity considered here.

Virginia State Bar Disciplinary Board precedent exists for the imposition of an indefinite suspension of an attorneyís license as reciprocal discipline absent a documented disability, although the basis for the indefinite suspension was factually different. See: In the Matter of Bridget Miriam Harris, Esquire, VSB Docket No. 01-000-3232. In the Harris case the Respondent failed to file a written response and failed to appear at the Disciplinary hearing. Therefore the Board determined that the language of Paragraph 13(I)(6)(f), (cited in the Harris Order as Paragraph 13[G]), not only allowed for but required the imposition of an indefinite suspension of the Respondentís license.

In the instant case, in the setting of the absence of proven contentions to the contrary, and with an agreed disposition with the consent, cooperation and involvement of the Respondent, we find that the language of paragraph 13(I) similarly permits and requires the Board to impose the reciprocal discipline of an indefinite suspension under the facts presented.

As in the Harris matter, more problematic are the requirements imposed by Paragraph 13(I)(7)(c) for reinstatement after a suspension of more than one year. Also problematic in this case are the requirements to be imposed for reinstatement after a suspension of less than one year. Given the fact that there are indicated psychological, substance abuse and related issues affecting the potential for reinstatement of Respondent Antoine Mann, the Board does not decide today the application of Paragraph 13(I)(7)(c) to the Respondentís suspension, beyond an acknowledgement that the initial burden to be overcome for reinstatement is the removal of the indefinite suspension and any other impediments to practice in the state of Maryland, and we leave this issue open for a future panel of this Board to decide should Respondent apply to this Board for reinstatement at any future time.

The Board does request, however, that should it come to the attention of Assistant Bar Counsel that a compelling reason exists in the future to establish a disability case against the Respondent that such a case will be constructed and brought.

After careful deliberation, it is the Disciplinary Boardís unanimous decision to accept the presented Agreement to Imposition of Reciprocal Discipline and to indefinitely suspend the Respondentís license to practice law in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Accordingly, it is ORDERED that pursuant to the provisions of Paragraph 13 of the Rules of the Supreme Court of Virginia, as amended, as cited supra, the license of the Respondent, Antoine Ian Mann, Esquire, to practice law in the Commonwealth of Virginia be, and the same hereby is, suspended indefinitely, effective December 29, 2003. Such suspension shall continue until the Respondent presents satisfactory evidence to this Board that the State of Maryland has removed all impediments to the Respondentís practice of law in such jurisdiction, and that the Respondent has fully established his rights to practice in the state of Maryland.

It is further ORDERED that a certified true copy of the September 23, 2003 ORDER of the Court of Appeals of Maryland suspending the right of Antoine Ian Mann to practice law in the state of Maryland, Case No. 10-C-03-001297 OC be attached to this Order of Indefinite Suspension and be made a part thereof.

It is further ORDERED that, pursuant to the provisions of Paragraph 13(M), 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 was currently handling matters and to all opposing attorneys and presiding judges in pending litigation. The Respondent shall also make appropriate arrangements for the disposition of matters then in his care in conformity with the wishes of clients. The Respondent shall give such notice within fourteen, (14), days of the effective date of the Indefinite Suspension, and make such arrangements as are required within forty-five, (45), days of the effective date of the Indefinite Suspension. The Respondent shall also furnish proof to the Bar within sixty, (60), days of the effective date of the Indefinite Suspension that such notices have been timely given and such arrangements have been made for the disposition of matters. The Board shall decide all issues concerning the adequacy of the notice and arrangements required herein, and the Board may impose a sanction of Revocation for failure to comply with the requirements of this subparagraph.

It is further ORDERED that the Respondent shall furnish to the Clerk of the Disciplinary System on or before March 1, 2004, true copies of all the notice letters sent to all persons notified by the Respondent of the Indefinite Suspension imposed by this Order and shall furnish the original return receipts for each such notice letter.

It is further ORDERED that, pursuant to Part 6, ß IV, Paragraph 13(B) (8) (c) the Respondent shall be assessed an administrative fee and costs for this Agreed Disposition proceeding.

It is further ORDERED that a copy a teste of this Order shall be mailed by Certified mail, Return Receipt Requested, to the Respondent at P.O. Box 831, Frederick, Maryland, 21705, his address of record with the Virginia State Bar, and by regular first-class mail to the Respondentís Guardian ad litem, Gordon P. Peyton, Esquire, at Redmon, Peyton & Braswell, L.L.P., 510 King Street, Suite 301, Alexandria, Virginia, 22314, and to Marian L. Beckett, Virginia State Bar, 100 North Pitt Street, Suite 310, Alexandria, Virginia, 22314.

Enter this ORDER this ______ day of _________________________, 2004.

VIRGINA STATE BAR DISCIPLINARY BOARD

By: ______________________________________

                                    Roscoe B. Stephenson, III, Chair