VIRGINIA: BEFORE THE TENTH, SECTION I DISTRICT SUBCOMMITTEE
OF THE VIRGINIA STATE BAR
IN THE MATTER OF VSB Docket No. 01-101-1358
FRANKLIN PETER SLAVIN, JR.
On December 10, 2001, a meeting in this matter was held before a duly convened Tenth, Section I District Subcommittee consisting of Charles H. Richards, Jr., Harriet D. Dorsey and Charles R. Beller, III, 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), the Tenth, Section I District Subcommittee of the Virginia State Bar hereby serves upon the Respondent, Franklin Peter Slavin, Jr., the following Public Reprimand.
1. At all times material to these allegations, the Respondent, Franklin Peter Slavin, Jr. (Slavin), has been an attorney licensed to practice law in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
2. In January of 2000, the Complainant, Donna C. Wilson (Wilson), hired Slavin to prepare two deeds for her. One of the deeds transferred land belonging to Wilson's former husband, James Heldreth, and stated in part "This being an interest in the same land conveyed to the parties by deed dated August 7, 1978 from Donald Heldreth, et ux. and recorded in the Clerk's Office of the Circuit Court of Wythe County Virginia in deed book 271 at page 183, together with additional land formerly owned by Donald M. Heldreth and now claimed by the parties." Donald Heldreth (Heldreth) is a neighbor and former father-in-law to Wilson.
3. In June of 2000, Wilson met with Slavin and related she and her current husband had been threatened by Heldreth over the property lines to their home. Wilson and Slavin discussed the property, and Slavin told Wilson of several different options she had to respond to Heldreth, including a possible claim of adverse possession. Wilson hired Slavin to represent her in the potential land dispute and paid him $200 on June 5, 2000.
4. In August of 2000, Heldreth hired Slavin to represent him in two matters related to a boundary dispute with another neighbor, Morris Patton (Patton). Slavin represented Heldreth in a trespassing charge brought by Patton, and filed a suit against Patton on behalf of Heldreth. Slavin did not inform Heldreth he represented Wilson in a potential claim against Heldreth.
5. Wilson, not having heard from Slavin and anxious to resolve the boundary dispute with Heldreth so she could sell her home, began calling Slavin in late September of 2000. Slavin told her he had put her case on the "back burner", but he would actively work on the matter and told her to call him each Friday for an update on the status of the case. During one of the latter calls Slavin told Wilson he was representing Heldreth in a court case, but did not think representing Heldreth after having been hired by her for a claim against Heldreth was a conflict of interest.
6. Wilson received a November 22, 2000 letter from Slavin, enclosing an October 30, 2000 letter Slavin sent to Heldreth raising the boundary dispute between the two.
7. Wilson then spoke to another attorney, who indicated it was a conflict of interest for Slavin to represent Heldreth while representing her against Heldreth. Wilson went to Slavin and demanded her file and a refund of the $200 paid. She eventually received the file and a refund of $150.
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:
RULE 1.7 Conflict of Interest: General Rule
III. IMPOSITION OF PUBLIC REPRIMAND
Accordingly, it is the decision of the Subcommittee to impose a Public Reprimand on Respondent, Franklin Peter Slavin, Jr., and he is so reprimanded.
Tenth, Section I District Subcommittee
Of the Virginia State Bar
Charles R. Beller, III
CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE
I certify I have this the _____ day of _____________, 2001, mailed by CERTIFIED MAIL, RETURN RECEIPT REQUESTED, a true and complete copy of the Subcommittee Determination (Public Reprimand) to Franklin P. Slavin, Jr., Esq., at 525 West Main Street, Wytheville, Virginia 24382-2208, his last address of record with the Virginia State Bar.
Richard E. Slaney
Assistant Bar Counsel