IN THE MATTER OF JEFFREY BOURKE RICE,
VSB Docket # 03-052-0898
Previously, on February 14, 2002, a subcommittee of the Fifth District Committee II imposed a Private Reprimand with Terms, in accordance with an agreement between Respondent and Bar Counsel. The agreement provided for the imposition of the alternative sanction of a Public Reprimand if the Respondent failed to comply with the terms of the Private Reprimand with Terms by May 1, 2002. Pursuant to Part 6, §IV, ¶13(G)(5) of the Rules of Virginia Supreme Court, a hearing was held to require the Respondent to show cause why the alternative disposition should not be imposed for failure to comply with the terms imposed by the aforesaid disposition. Upon evidence and argument presented, the Fifth District Committee Section II found that the Respondent was duly noticed of this hearing by a certified mailing, return receipt requested, to his last address of record with the Virginia State Bar, and that none of the terms of the Private Reprimand with Terms of February 14, 2002 was fulfilled. Accordingly, the Committee hereby issues the following Public Reprimand.
1. At all times relevant hereto, the Respondent, Jeffrey Bourke Rice, Esquire (hereinafter the Respondent), has been an attorney licensed to practice law in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
2. In April of 1999, the Complainant, Lt. Col. Christopher R. Jones, hired the Respondent to represent him in a divorce and property settlement case, and paid the Respondent $2,000 in advance fees.
3. On April 30, 1999, the Respondent filed in the Circuit Court of Fairfax County a Motion to Vacate orders previously entered by the Court in the Complainant's case. The Court heard the Motion on May 7, 1999, and denied it by an Order entered on May 9, 1999.
4. The Complainant was present at the hearing and felt that the Respondent did not present his case well. The Complainant fired the Respondent and interviewed new counsel, Shirley F. Keisler, Esq. The Complainant informed the Respondent who his new attorney was going to be and asked the Respondent to provide Ms. Keisler with his file. The Complainant also requested that the Respondent provide an accounting of the fees that the Respondent had earned to date, and pay any remainder of his advance fees over to Ms. Keisler. The Respondent did provide Ms. Keisler with the Complainant's file but did not provide a bill or turn over any unearned fees.
5. By letter dated July 1, 1999, the opposing counsel in the Complainant's case, William F. Wall, Esq., noticed the Respondent for a hearing in the Complainant's case on July 29, 1999 to deal with unresolved issues. The Respondent did not inform Ms. Keisler or the Complainant of the new hearing date. Ms. Keisler heard about the hearing on July 28, 1999, but could not reach the Complainant. She appeared in court and explained that she had not yet been retained by the Complainant, and that neither she nor the Complainant had been aware of the hearing. She asked for a continuance but the Court refused to grant it.
Such conduct by the Respondent, as set forth above, constitutes Misconduct in violation of the following Disciplinary Rules of the Revised Virginia Code of Professional Responsibility:
DR 2-105 Fees.
(A) A lawyer's fees shall be reasonable
and adequately explained to the client.
(B) The basis or rate of a lawyer's fee shall be furnished on request of the lawyer's client.
DR 2-108. Terminating Representation.
(D) Upon termination of representation, a lawyer shall take reasonable steps for the continued protection of a client's interests, including giving reasonable notice to the client, allowing time for employment of other counsel, delivering all papers and property to which the client is entitled, and refunding any advance payment of fee that has not been earned. The lawyer may retain papers relating to the client to the extent permitted by applicable law.
DR 6-101. Competence and Promptness.
(B) A lawyer shall:(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.
Accordingly, it is the decision of the Committee to impose a Public Reprimand and the Respondent is hereby so reprimanded.
Pursuant to Part Six, §IV, ¶13(B)(8)(c) of the Rules of Virginia Supreme Court, the Clerk of the Disciplinary System shall assess costs.
FIFTH DISTRICT COMMITTEE
OF THE VIRGINIA STATE BAR
By: Stephen H. Ratliff, Chair Designate
CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE
I certify that I have this ____
day of ____________________________, 2002, mailed by CERTIFIED MAIL, RETURN
RECEIPT REQUESTED, a true and correct copy of the District Committee Determination
(Public Reprimand) to Jeffrey Bourke Rice, Esq., the Respondent, at 10521 Judicial
Dr., Suite307, Fairfax, VA 22030, his last address of record with the Virginia
State bar, and by first class mail, postage prepaid, to Noel D. Sengel, Senior
Assistant Bar Counsel at 100 North Pitt Street, Suite 310, Alexandria, Virginia
Noel D. Sengel