VIRGINIA:



BEFORE THE VIRGINIA STATE BAR DISCIPLINARY BOARD



IN THE MATTER OF VSB DOCKET NO. 02-000-3863

GEOFFREY DUANE THOMAS



ORDER AND OPINION



This matter came before the Virginia State Bar Disciplinary Board for hearing on October 25, 2002, upon a Rule to Show Cause and Order of Suspension and Hearing entered on September 27, 2002. A duly convened panel of the Virginia State Bar Disciplinary Board consisting of David R. Schultz, Bruce T. Clark, H. Taylor Williams, IV, V. Max Beard, Lay Member, and Karen A. Gould, 2nd Vice-Chair, presiding, heard the matter. Edward L. Davis, Assistant Bar Counsel, appeared as counsel to the Virginia State Bar ("VSB"). Geoffrey Duane Thomas ("Respondent") appeared pro se. The Chair opened the hearing by polling the Board members to ascertain whether any member had a conflict of interest which would preclude them from serving. There were no conflicts and the hearing proceeded as scheduled.

The court reporter for the proceeding, Victoria V. Halasz, Post Office Box 9349, Richmond, Virginia 23227, telephone (804) 730-1222, was duly sworn by Ms. Gould.

Both the VSB and Respondent made opening statements and the VSB proffered eight exhibits which were entered into the record.

The Board finds that although all legal notices of the date and place of this hearing were timely sent out by the Clerk of the Disciplinary System, they did not meet all of the requirements prescribed by law. More particularly, Part Six, IV, 13.I.6.a. of the Rules of the Supreme Court, Disbarment or Suspension in Another Jurisdiction, provides, in relevant part that, following the issuance of a show cause order and order of suspension, "the Board shall forthwith serve upon Respondent by certified mail (a) a copy of the Suspension or Revocation Notice (b) a copy of the Board's order and (c) a notice fixing the time and place of the hearing before the Board to determine what action should be taken in response to the Suspension or Revocation Notice and stating that the purpose of the hearing is to provide an opportunity to show cause why the same discipline that was imposed in the other jurisdiction should not be imposed by the Board" (emphasis added).

The Board specifically finds that requirements (a) and (b) above were met but the notice required in (c) was defective in that the letter dated September 27, 2002 to the Respondent failed to specifically state the purpose of the hearing as set forth above. Because these substantive procedural matters were not complied with, the Board is of the opinion that these proceedings should be dismissed without prejudice.

Upon consideration of the matters before this panel of the Disciplinary Board, it is hereby ORDERED that the Order of Suspension dated September 27, 2002, be vacated; that these proceedings be terminated and otherwise dismissed without prejudice to the Virginia State Bar.

It is further ORDERED that the Clerk of the Disciplinary System shall send an attested and true copy of this Order and Opinion to the Respondent, Geoffrey Duane Thomas, by certified mail, return receipt requested, at his address of record with the Virginia State Bar, 13305 Ector Drive, Baker, LA 70714; and hand-delivered to Edward L. Davis, Assistant Bar Counsel, 707 East Main Street, Suite 1500, Richmond, VA 23219-2803





SO ORDERED, this _________ day of



________________________, 2002





By:_____________________________

Karen A. Gould, 2nd Vice-Chair