VIRGINIA: BEFORE THE SECOND, SECTION II DISTRICT SUBCOMMITTEE
OF THE VIRGINIA STATE BAR
IN THE MATTER OF VSB Docket No. 00-022-1581
WILLIAM P. ROBINSON, JR.
On April 3, 2002, a meeting in this matter was held before a duly convened Second, Section II District Subcommittee consisting of Jon F. Sedel, Kevin E. Martingayle, Esq., and Michael A. Robusto, Esq., Chair presiding.
Pursuant to Virginia Supreme Court Rules of Court Part Six, Section IV, Paragraph 13(B)(5) and Council Rule of Disciplinary Procedure IV(B), and by agreement of the Respondent and the Bar, the Second, Section II District Subcommittee of the Virginia State Bar hereby serves upon the Respondent, William P. Robinson, Jr., the following Public Reprimand.
1. At all times material to these allegations, the Respondent, William P. Robinson, Jr. (Robinson), has been an attorney licensed to practice law in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
2. In early 1993, the Complainant, Kenneth J. Mitchell (Mitchell) hired Robinson for representation at a criminal sentencing and to pursue an appeal in a case pending in the Circuit Court of the City of Portsmouth captioned Commonwealth of Virginia v. Kenneth Jermaine Mitchell, CR91-1469 (the Case).
3. On April 22, 1993, Mitchell was sentenced by the Honorable Norman Olitsky to twenty-two (22) years. The sentencing order was entered April 22, 1993.
4. On May 28, 1993, Robinson filed a Motion for a New Trial. On August 23, 1993, a hearing was held on that Motion. The Court denied the Motion in an order dated December 14, 1993.
5. On January 11, 1994, Robinson filed a Notice of Appeal in Mitchell's case.
6. On March 13, 1995, The Court of Appeals of Virginia entered an order denying Mitchell's appeal due to the fact the Notice of Appeal was not timely filed.
7. On April 12, 1995, Robinson filed a habeas petition seeking a delayed appeal on Mitchell's behalf (the 1995 Petition).
8. The Attorney General's Office, by counsel, agreed to the provision of a delayed appeal, which the Court of Appeals granted by order dated August 22, 1996. A $25 filing fee was not paid, and the delayed appeal was dismissed by order of the Court of Appeals dated October 11, 1996.
9. On September 10, 1997, Robinson filed a second habeas corpus petition (the 1997 Petition). The 1997 Petition was signed by Robinson, not Mitchell, and the signature was not notarized.
10. On October 28, 1997, the Attorney General's Office, by counsel, filed a Motion to Dismiss, citing the statutory requirement that a habeas petition be sworn to under oath by the Petitioner (8.01-655). Robinson filed nothing in response to this Motion.
11. On January 8, 1999, at the request of the Court, the Attorney General's Office, by counsel, sent a dismissal order to the Court with a copy to Robinson. The Court entered the order on January 11, 1999. On that same day, Robinson sent a signature page to Mitchell, stating "I enclose herewith a signature page for your habeas corpus petition, which was apparently overlooked, this will prevent the case from being dismissed, and we will be able to proceed as planned." Mitchell signed the signature page on January 13, 1999, but by then the 1997 Petition was already dismissed.
12. Thereafter, Mitchell received a copy of Robinson's cover letter to Portsmouth Circuit Court dated March 30, 1999, purporting to enclose an original and one copy of a habeas petition for filing and a filing fee check. Mitchell wrote the Court sometime in late June or early July of 1999 seeking to confirm the March filing of the third petition.
13. On July 19, 1999, a Deputy Clerk wrote back to Mitchell referencing the March 30 date and indicating "Our records do not show that a petition of this matter was filed in this court." Robinson would offer evidence that a third petition was sent to the Court and the filing fee check was cashed, but the third petition was lost or misplaced by the Court Clerk's Office.
14. Mitchell thereafter filed a pro se habeas petition, which was dismissed as being time-barred and a successive petition in September of 1999. Mitchell then filed his Bar complaint.
II. NATURE OF MISCONDUCT
Such conduct on the part of Respondent constitutes misconduct in violation of the following Disciplinary Rules of the Virginia Code of Professional Responsibility:
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.
III. IMPOSITION OF PUBLIC REPRIMAND
Accordingly, it is the decision of the Subcommittee to impose a Public Reprimand on Respondent, William P. Robinson, Jr., and he is so reprimanded.
Second, Section II District Subcommittee
Of the Virginia State Bar
Michael A. Robusto
CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE
I certify I have this the _____ day of ________________, 2002, mailed by CERTIFIED MAIL, RETURN RECEIPT REQUESTED, a true and complete copy of the Subcommittee Determination (Public Reprimand) to William P. Robinson, Jr., Esq., at 256 West Freemason Street, Norfolk, Virginia 23510-1221, his last address of record with the Virginia State Bar, and by regular mail to Joseph C. Lindsey, Esq., Respondent's Counsel, at Signet Bank Building, Suite 301, 500 East Plume Street, Norfolk, Virginia 23510.