VIRGINIA:

IN THE CIRCUIT COURT OF HENRICO COUNTY



VIRGINIA STATE BAR ex rel

THIRD DISTRICT SUBCOMMITTEE, SECTION TWO


HARRISON BENJAMIN WILSON, III



ORDER OF SUSPENSION

CAME ON THIS MATTER FOR TRIAL on May 29, 30 and 31, 2002, pursuant to Va. Code Section 54.1-3935, as amended, before a Three Judge panel consisting of The Honorable Benjamin A. Williams, Jr., The Honorable Williams L. Winston, and The Honorable James W. Haley, Jr., designated Chief Judge.

The Respondent, Harrison Benjamin Wilson, III, appeared in person represented by his attorney, Murray J. Janus. Deputy Bar Counsel Harry M. Hirsch represented the Virginia State Bar.

UPON THE pleadings filed, evidence presented and arguments of counsel, the Court made the following findings with respect to each of the eight Virginia State Bar complaints which were incorporated into this proceeding:

The Court found by clear and convincing evidence that the Respondent, Harrison Benjamin Wilson, III, was an attorney licensed to practice law in the Commonwealth of Virginia at all times relevant to the instant complaints.


VSB Docket No. 01-032-1238 [Whitlow]

At the end of the presentation of the bar's case the Respondent moved to strike the evidence in VSB Docket No. 01-032-1238 [Whitlow]. The Court granted the motion to strike and dismissed the Whitlow complaint.

VSB Docket No. 01-032-0643 [Kintigos]

At the end of the presentation of the bar's case the Respondent moved to strike the evidence in VSB Docket No. 01-032-0643 [Kintigos]. The Court denied the motion to strike.

At the end of the bar's case and the Respondent's case, the Court found that the bar had failed to meet its burden of proof by clear and convincing evidence with respect to all allegations of violations of provisions of the Virginia Code of Professional Responsibility and the Virginia Rules of Professional Conduct, and the Court dismissed the Kintigos complaint.

VSB Docket No. 00-032-1980 [Carr]

The Court determined that the bar proved the following facts by clear and convincing evidence:

I. Findings of Fact:

1. Wilson was first called by complainant Inetha M. Carr [Carr] on a Sunday afternoon for a case scheduled for hearing the next day in federal court in Charlottesville; Wilson met Carr at her home near Farmville, Virginia that Sunday afternoon when he agreed to assume the representation and Carr gave him two trash bags filled with documents related to the pending case. The next day, on or about August 5, 1999, Wilson entered his appearance in the case of Inetha M. Carr v. Central Piedmont Action Council [CPAC], Civil Action No. 98-0056-L which was pending in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia [case]. Carr had filed the case in August of 1998, pro se, alleging discrimination based upon sex and race regarding two incidents that allegedly occurred with a co-worker when he allegedly hit her on her back and for retaliation as a result of CPAC suspending Carr from employment a year after the incidents. At the time Wilson entered the case there were motions by CPAC set for hearing on August 6, 1999, to compel Carr to turn over medical records and to dismiss the case for failure to comply with discovery requests. On August 6, 1999, the court dismissed any matter pertaining to Carr's medical claims leaving only the claim for retaliation discharge and associated damages and the court assessed costs to Carr.

2. On or about August 16, 1999, a pre-trial order was entered which, inter alia, set a discovery deadline at 45 days before the rescheduled trial date of February 16, 2000, i.e., December 26, 1999.

3. On or about November 3, 1999, CPAC moved to dismiss the case for failure of Carr to comply with discovery and for sanctions and noticed the deposition of Carr.

4. On or about November 17, 1999, Wilson filed a motion to deny CPAC's motions to dismiss and for sanctions. In his motion, Wilson acknowledged that the court previously had made it clear that no more discovery delays would be tolerated, that he had not responded to pending discovery propounded by CPAC because he believed the case would be settled, that if the court wished to impose sanctions it should do so against Wilson and not Carr and Wilson asked for more time to respond to discovery.

5. On or about November 19, 1999, Carlene Booth Johnson, Esq. [Johnson], counsel for CPAC then filed a reply memorandum and reply declaration in which she stated, inter alia, that the court had already made three sanctions awards against the plaintiff, all of which had been paid; and further stated:

Having failed to produce one single document or provide

one single response to the discovery requests served by

[CPAC] almost six months ago, plaintiff has the insolence

to respond to [CPAC's] second motion to dismiss for failure

to comply with discovery obligations by asking for more time.

[CPAC] respectfully submits that enough is enough.



6. By letter dated December 1, 1999, Wilson filed the first response to CPAC's First Set of Interrogatories and Request for Production of Documents. In response to question 8 seeking the identity of all expert witnesses the plaintiff intended to call as witnesses at trial, Wilson answered:

We have not selected an expert at this time. We reserve

the right to update this response; however, we do not intend

to use an expert at this time. We may use Dr. Merkel to

show extent of retaliation.



7. On or about December 6, 1999, Wilson filed a supplemental memorandum in opposition to the defendant's motion to dismiss and motion for sanctions citing his extreme workload as a solo practitioner as a reason for the lack of discovery response.

8. On December 9, 1999, the court issued an order and memorandum opinion denying the pending motion to dismiss; setting a January 26, 2000, hearing date for a summary judgment motion and ordering the plaintiff to pay the defendant's attorney's fees which were incurred in bringing the motion to dismiss and fees for any additional discovery required as a result of the plaintiff's late discovery compliance. In the memorandum opinion, the court found that the plaintiff had not acted in good faith and that the defendant was, at least in theory, prejudiced by the delay in complying with discovery requests. The court also gave the plaintiff ten days to respond to a motion for summary judgment and ordered the plaintiff to pay the defendant's attorney's fees within two weeks of the defendant's affidavit detailing the fees incurred.

9. On or about January 4, 2000, CPAC filed a motion for summary judgment and a memorandum in support of the motion.

10. On or about January 5, 2000, and in accordance with the December 9, 1999, order, Johnson filed a supplemental declaration of attorney's fees, in the amount of $541.08 incurred by CPAC as a result of a hearing requested by Wilson on CPAC's second motion to dismiss. On or about January 14, 2000, Wilson filed a motion regarding whether the plaintiff had to pay the $541.08 as a result of requesting a hearing on the motion to dismiss. Johnson filed a reply on January 19, 2000, to Wilson's motion in which she observed that the two week deadline for payment of the $541.08 attorney's fee's had passed without payment having been made.

11. On or about January 19, 2000, Johnson filed a motion for entry of summary judgment on default based upon the fact that the plaintiff had filed no response to the previously filed summary judgment motion within the required ten day time frame set forth in the court's December 9, 1999, order.

12. On or about January 21, 2000, Wilson filed a motion to deny defendant's motion for summary judgment and memorandum in support thereof, stating essentially that there are genuine issues of fact concerning whether there was retaliation. However, as stated in Johnson's reply memorandum filed on or about January 24, 2000, Wilson offered no evidence in support of the plaintiff's claim.

13. On January 27, 2000, the court issued its order and memorandum opinion granting the summary judgment motion filed on January 4, 2000. The court noted that the plaintiff had not presented specific facts or arguments to refute the assertions of the defendant which were supported by affidavits and references to depositions; instead, the plaintiff had stated only general conclusive statements which did not set forth specific facts showing that there was a genuine issue for trial as required by the provisions of Rule 56(e) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

14. Wilson failed to keep Carr reasonably informed about the representation.

II. Nature of Misconduct:

The Court found that the bar proved by clear and convincing evidence that such conduct on the part of Harrison Benjamin Wilson, III, constituted misconduct in violation of the following provisions of the Virginia Code of Professional Responsibility:

DR 2-108(A)(1), DR 6-101(A)(1) and (2), DR 6-101(B), DR 6-101(C), DR 7-105(C)(5).

The Court found that the bar had failed to prove by clear and convincing evidence violations of the following provisions of the Virginia Code of Professional Responsibility: DR 7-101(A)(3), DR 7-105(A).

VSB Docket No. 01-032-1072 [Marcelin]

The Court determined that the bar proved the following by clear and convincing evidence:

I. Findings of Fact:

15. On or about August 12, 1999, Complainant Leila Marcelin [Marcelin] was issued a right to sue letter regarding alleged discrimination involving Sentara Healthcare [Sentara]. Subsequently, Marcelin met with Wilson in the Norfolk federal courthouse about possible representation. Wilson agreed to represent Marcelin for an attorney's fee of $3,000.00 of which $750.00 was required to be paid immediately in order for Wilson to begin working on the case. No written fee agreement was entered into. Wilson asked Marcelin to provide to him a written condensed version of the facts underlying her allegations against Sentara.

16. Marcelin sent Wilson a letter dated on or about November 6, 1999, giving him her condensed version of the facts underlying her allegations.

17. On or about November 10, 1999, Wilson filed a complaint against Sentara in the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Virginia, Richmond Division, although the defendant, Marcelin's applicable Sentara employment and the witnesses were located in Norfolk, Virginia. The complaint included allegations of constructive discharge based on race and unlawful retaliation in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

18. On or about December 13, 1999, Sentara filed a motion to dismiss asserting improper venue because the complaint should have been filed in the Norfolk Division of the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Virginia. Wilson filed a Plaintiff's Motion to Deny Defendant's Motion to Dismiss on or about December 27, 1999. On January 27, 2000, upon the joint motion of the parties, the case was transferred to the Norfolk Division of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.

19. Sentara filed an answer to the suit asserting, inter alia, denial of any discrimination, the running of the applicable statute of limitations, the failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, and the failure to meet jurisdictional and administrative prerequisites.

20. An order was entered on or about March 2, 2000, resulting from the initial pretrial conference. The order set, inter alia, a discovery deadline for plaintiff's discovery of June 14, 2000 and a trial date of September 7, 2000.

21. Sentara took the deposition of Marcelin on May 19, 2000.

22. Wilson had propounded no discovery on behalf of Marcelin by the cutoff date for plaintiff's discovery of June 14, 2000.

23. On or about July 17, 2000, Sentara filed a motion for summary judgment asserting that there was no genuine issue of material fact necessitating a trial in the case and therefore Sentara was entitled to judgment as a matter of law in accordance with Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

24. On or about July 18, 2000, Marcelin made an unannounced visit to Wilson's office from her home in New York. Wilson asked Marcelin to return to his office later in the day. Before Marcelin met again with Wilson that day, she sought the advice of Lisa Lawrence, Esq. about her case and learned of the existence of problems with her case including the fact that Wilson had propounded no discovery on her behalf.

25. The next day, Wilson and Marcelin went to Norfolk to find witnesses and obtain their affidavits, all without having made any contacts with the subject individuals prior to that date.

26. On or about July 28, 2000, Wilson submitted to the clerk's office in the Richmond Division of the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Virginia a motion for an extension of time to respond to the summary judgment motion. The motion was noted as filed on the docket of the case as of August 2, 2000. In his cover letter, Wilson stated, inter alia:

Today is my last day to respond to the defendant's

Motion to Dismiss in Federal court in Norfolk. I would

like to take advantage of the courtesy filing an attorney

in Virginia has in your Federal Court.

Please file the enclosed Motion and sketch order.

27. On or about July 31, 2000, Wilson submitted to the clerk's office in the Richmond Division of the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Virginia a memorandum in opposition to the summary judgment motion.

28. On or about August 11, 2000, Wilson consented to a trial in the case by a magistrate judge.

29. A hearing was held on defendant's summary judgment motion on August 16, 2000, and the court granted the motion and taxed costs against the plaintiff.

30. Marcelin wrote Wilson a letter dated August 24, 2000, in which, inter alia, she recited that Wilson had informed her he would appeal the case if the hearing on summary judgment was lost; accordingly, she expected Wilson to appeal her case, inform her of his progress and send her copies of everything Wilson submitted or was submitted to him in the appeal.

31. Wilson filed a notice of appeal on or about September 15, 2000, for an appeal from a decision rendered on August 14, 2000. The hearing and order of the court granting summary judgment occurred on August 16, 2000 not August 14, 2000.

32. Wilson told VSB Investigator Cam Moffatt that he filed the notice of appeal in order to protect himself.

33. Wilson filed a docketing statement in the appeal but failed to attach the required copy of the order from which the appeal was taken; he also indicated incorrectly that the order appealed from was not a final decision on the merits.

34. The appeal was dismissed for failure to prosecute the appeal.

35. Sentara submitted a bill of costs of $922.50 which were the costs associated with the deposition of Marcelin.

36. The $750.00 payment and any other fees received from Marcelin by Wilson in this case were deposited into his operating account upon receipt. Wilson did not keep subsidiary ledger records for his trust account.

37. Wilson failed to communicate with Marcelin and keep her informed about her case at either the district court or appellate levels. After August 16, 2000, Marcelin never heard from Wilson again until she received copies of his correspondence with the bar.

II. Nature of Misconduct:

The Court found that the bar proved by clear and convincing evidence that such conduct on the part of Harrison Benjamin Wilson, III, constituted misconduct in violation of the following provisions of the Virginia Code of Professional Responsibility and the Virginia Rules of Professional Conduct:

DR 2-108(A)(1), DR 6-101(A)(1) and (2), DR 6-101(B), DR 6-101(C), DR 9-102(A)(1) and (2), DR 9-103(A)(3), Rule 1.1, Rule 1.3(a), Rule 1.4(a), Rule 1.16(a)(1).



VSB Docket No. 01-032-0885 [Laguerre]

The Court determined that the bar proved the following by clear and convincing evidence:

I. Findings of Fact:

38. Sometime prior to November 1999, Complainant Lamerique Laguerre [Laguerre] was injured while working at Old Dominion University [ODU].

39. Laguerre was issued a Notice of Right To Sue Within 90 Days by the U.S. Department of Justice dated November 16, 1999. On December 8, 1999, Laguerre hired Wilson for a discrimination case against ODU and $3,000.00 was paid to Wilson for the representation [ODU case]. On January 12, 2000, Laguerre signed a retainer agreement for the ODU case which called for attorneys fees including the $3,000.00 payment plus one-fourth of any recovery.

40. In or about February 2000, Wilson agreed to also represent Laguerre in a disability case against the Virginia Retirement System for a fee of $1,500.00 [VRS case]. Wilson was paid the $1,500.00 in payments made on February 4, 2000, February 16, 2000, April 19, 2000 and May 23, 2000.

41. On or about February 15, 2000, Wilson filed a federal complaint in the ODU case in the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Virginia, Norfolk Division. On March 3, 2000, ODU filed a motion to dismiss and motion of collateral estoppel. On April 3, 2000, Wilson filed a late response to the motions on behalf of Laguerre by agreement of counsel.

42. On April 20, 2000, Wilson called Laguerre and told him that there would be a hearing in the VRS case the next day and that he needed to meet Laguerre in Norfolk on the date of the call. At the meeting the day before the hearing, for the first time Wilson asked Laguerre for a doctor's report stating that Laguerre was disabled. Since Laguerre had not obtained such a statement, Wilson attempted unsuccessfully to contact Laguerre's medical care providers by phone to obtain such a statement for the hearing the next day. At the April 21, 2000, hearing Wilson asked for a continuance and had a meeting with the hearing officer.

43. In the ODU case, on May 18, 2000, a hearing was held on ODU's motions to dismiss and collateral estoppel. The motion of collateral estoppel was denied. The motion to dismiss was denied on the issue of sovereign immunity; however, dismissal was granted on the issues of a failure to allege having met state exhaustion requirements and a failure to specifically allege a claim. Wilson was allowed to file an amended complaint which he did on May 30, 2000.

44. Beginning in or about May 2000, Laguerre [and/or his wife who acted on behalf of Laguerre throughout these facts when better language skills were required] a series of telephone calls started in which Laguerre tried unsuccessfully to determine whether a new hearing date had been set in the VRS case. When Laguerre reached Wilson, he was given numerous reasons why no date had been set.

45. In August 2000, when Laguerre reached Wilson and asked about a VRS case hearing date, Wilson stated he would call the hearing officer immediately but asked Laguerre to provide the telephone number. Laguerre obtained the telephone number of the hearing officer, called Wilson back and left the number with a secretary as well as on voice mail. After a week had passed without hearing from Wilson, Laguerre called Wilson and left a voice mail message demanding a refund of the fees paid on the VRS case. About a week later, Laguerre again called Wilson and reached him. Wilson stated that he had unsuccessfully been trying to reach Laguerre; Laguerre again asked for a refund of the VRS case fees. Laguerre later checked his caller identification device and found no indication that Wilson had tried to call him.

46. On August 28, 2000, Laguerre wrote Wilson and, inter alia, asked for a refund of the VRS case fees.

47. On August 30, 2000, Wilson wrote Laguerre, enclosing an August 15, 2000 hearing notice in theVRS case for September 20, 2000, and asking Laguerre not to retain another attorney in the case.

48. On September 1, 2000, Laguerre wrote Wilson stating, inter alia, that he was going to retain Sue Anne Bryant, Esq. to represent him in the VRS case but wanted Wilson to remain as counsel in the ODU case; Laguerre asked Wilson to forward his VRS file to Bryant and refund $1,000.00. Wilson forwarded his VRS case file to Bryant on or about September 6, 2000.

49. Laguerre wrote Wilson on September 12, 2000, stating, inter alia, that no refund had been received and no telephone calls had been returned by Wilson; and he demanded a refund of $1,000.00 in the VRS case by September 22, 2000.

50. In the ODU case the plaintiff's discovery cut-off deadline was September 13, 2000; the plaintiff's mandatory disclosure of expert testimony cut-off date was September 18, 2000 and the trial date was December 13, 2000.

51. As of September 13, 2000, Wilson had filed no discovery in the ODU case.

52. On September 16, 2000, Laguerre met with Wilson and Wilson told Laguerre that he had an additional thirty days to make discovery filings and that the case was under control.

53. Laguerre wrote letters to Wilson and attempted calling him in order to find out what was going on in the ODU case. In his October 11, 2000, letter to Wilson, Laguerre asked Wilson, "Have you abandoned my case?"

54. Laguerre wrote letters to the Clerk of the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Virginia, Norfolk Division about the communication problem he had with Wilson. By order entered October 11, 2000, the court directed the clerk to mail a copy of one of Laguerre's letters to counsel of record, ordered Wilson and Laguerre to confer and, if either Wilson or Laguerre wished to do so, to contact the calendar clerk to set up a hearing on the issue of representation.

55. Laguerre continued to try to reach Wilson unsuccessfully. In the last week of October 2000, Laguerre contacted the calendar clerk and asked that a hearing be set concerning Wilson's representation.

56. Wilson contacted Laguerre on November 1, 2000 indicating that a hearing on the representation was unnecessary. Laguerre wrote a letter dated November 1, 2000, to the clerk describing Wilson's call to him.

57. On November 9, 2000, ODU filed a motion to compel Laguerre to answer defendant's first set of interrogatories.

58. On November 14, 2000, a hearing was held before the Honorable Tommy E. Miller on the issue of Wilson's representation of Laguerre in the ODU case. ODU's counsel was present. Wilson, inter alia, asked that he be allowed to remain in the representation, admitted a lapse in his efforts, told Laguerre that he would keep him better informed, tried unsuccessfully to continue the upcoming November 17, 2000 final pretrial conference and December 13, 2000, trial date. The court asked Wilson whether he was prepared for the final pretrial conference and whether he had attended an attorneys' conference with ODU counsel. Wilson stated that he had not attended the attorneys' conference, but "...would be prepared for the final pretrial." Counsel for ODU indicated to the court that he still had not received an answer to the first set of interrogatories and Wilson had not yet listed any exhibits for the case.

59. The ODU case was settled in the amount of $5,000.00.

60. In a November 24, 2000, letter to Wilson, Laguerre recounted much of his experience as a client of Wilson and stated that he never would have settled the case but for the fact that Wilson was unprepared to proceed with the case.

61. Wilson maintained no subsidiary ledgers for his trust account and deposited all funds received into his operating account whether or not said funds constituted earned fees upon payment.

II. Nature of Misconduct:

The Court found that the bar proved by clear and convincing evidence that such conduct on the part of Harrison Benjamin Wilson, III, constituted misconduct in violation of the following provisions of the Virginia Code of Professional Responsibility and the Virginia Rules of Professional Conduct:

DR 9-102(A)(1) and (2), DR 9-103(A)(3), Rule 1.1, Rule 1.3(a), Rule 1.3(b), Rule 1.3(c), Rule 1.4(a), Rule 1.15(a)(1) and (2), Rule 1.15(e)(1)(iii), Rule 1.16(a)(1).

The Court determined that the bar failed to prove by clear and convincing evidence a violation of Rule 3.4(e).

VSB Docket No. 01-032-1755 [Goodman]

The Court determined that the bar proved the following by clear and convincing evidence:

I. Findings of Fact:

62. On or about July 17, 1998, Complainant Mrs. Earmon Goodman [Goodman] retained Wilson to represent her son, Edward, in a lawsuit against Food Lion. Wilson agreed to handle the matter for $1,500.00 plus one-fourth of any recovery. The retainer agreement recites that the representation concerns "Violation of ADA. Wrongful termination." Goodman paid Wilson $750.00 on or about July 27, 1998, and another $750.00 on or about August 24, 1998.

63. Edward had been fired from his Food Lion job on or about February 18, 1998, for allegedly stealing a Valentine card.

64. On December 22, 1998, Wilson wrote a letter to Bryant Young, whom Wilson assumed was the manager of the Food Lion store where Edward had been employed, indicating that Wilson had been hired regarding Edward's wrongful termination; that Edward "had no intention of taking a Valentine card without paying for it"; that Edward "suffers from Multiple Sclerosis ...and believes that he was terminated due to the debilitating nature of this insidious disease and its effects on his memory, sight, balance, and overall outlook"; that Wilson wished to resolve the case out of court; and Wilson asked that the letter be forwarded to the appropriate management. The letter was returned to sender for an insufficient address. The street address on the letter was "South Military Highway."

65. On January 29, 1999, Wilson sent the December 22, 1998 letter to Bryant Young at Food Lion using a more specific street address. That letter was also returned to Wilson. Then Wilson contacted the store to get a better address and learned that Bryant Young was no longer employed at the store.

66. On May 31, 1999, Wilson sent the December 22, 1998 letter to the current store manager at the same store. That manager then contacted Wilson indicating he had no knowledge about the matter involving Edward.

67. On February 1, 2001, Goodman filed a complaint about the matter with the Virginia State Bar.

68. On February 12, 2001, Wilson sent a letter addressed to the Legal Department, Food Lion Headquarters in Salisbury, North Carolina, again indicating his representation of Edward and a desire to resolve the matter out of court. In the letter Wilson also stated, " Mr. Goodman had no intention of taking a Valentine card without paying for it."

69. On February 19, 2001, Wilson wrote to Goodman confirming Goodman's telephone conversation with his secretary.

70. On February 19, 2001, Janis Johnson [Johnson], a senior attorney with Food Lion, wrote Wilson a letter by facsimile transmission indicating she was in the process of reviewing the matter.

71. On March 14, 2001, Johnson wrote to Wilson in response to the February 12, 2001, letter from Wilson indicating that Edward had been discharged "...for his failure to properly purchase merchandise, conduct which he openly admitted and to which you refer in your letter." Johnson stated that she saw no plausible claims that Edward could bring against the company in good faith. Johnson also noted in her letter that Edward had waited three years to assert the wrongful termination claim.

72. By his letter to the bar dated March 19, 2001, Wilson stated that, "I hope my summary letter, with attachments, demonstrates that I have been doing an exemplary job for Edward Goodman and his mother, Mrs. Earmon Goodman."

73. Wilson told Investigator Cam Moffatt that he did not feel Edward's case had been dormant for any extended periods of time and that he wanted a medal for the work which he did on Edward's behalf.

74. During the first year of the representation, Goodman did talk with Wilson about the case by telephone. Wilson always indicated that he was working on the case. After receiving a copy of Wilson's May 31, 1999 letter to the then current manager of the Food Lion store, Goodman attempted to contact Wilson but Wilson failed to return her telephone calls.

75. Goodman met with Wilson on three occasions during the representation. In December 1999, Goodman reached Wilson and arranged a meeting with him to discuss the case; Wilson failed to appear for the meeting and did not call Goodman to inform her he would not attend.

76. On October 5, 2000, Goodman asked for the return of the funds she had paid Wilson. Wilson stated to her that there were no funds to refund to her because he had earned the fees.

77. Beginning in August of 1999, Goodman began keeping a log of her telephone calls to Wilson. The log indicates that Wilson failed to return her phone calls on numerous occasions over an extended period of time.

78. On August 14, 2001, Wilson wrote another letter addressed to the legal department at Food Lion Headquarters in Salisbury, North Carolina. In the letter Wilson asked for a meeting to discuss the possibility of Edward returning to work for Food Lion as a grocery bagger.

79. Wilson failed to pursue Edward's claim against Food Lion in a timely manner.

80. Wilson failed to deposit the funds paid to him by Goodman into a trust account; said funds were deposited into an operating account. Wilson does not maintain subsidiary ledger records for his trust account.

II. Nature of Misconduct:

The Court found that the bar proved by clear and convincing evidence that such conduct on the part of Harrison Benjamin Wilson, III, constituted misconduct in violation of the following provisions of the Virginia Code of Professional Responsibility and the Virginia Rules of Professional Conduct:

DR 2-108(A)(1), DR 6-101(A)(1) and (2), DR 6-101(B), DR 6-101(C), DR 9-102(A)(1) and (2), DR 9-103(A)(3), Rule 1.1, Rule 1.3(a), Rule 1.4(a), Rule 1.15(a)(1) and (2), Rule 1.15(e)(1)(iii).

VSB Docket No. 01-032-1798 [Brent]

The Court determined that the bar proved the following by clear and convincing evidence:

81. On or about September 27, 1998, Complainant Veronica D. Brent [Brent], her child and her neighbor's child had an experience at a Wal-Mart store checkout counter about which they sought the legal services of Wilson to pursue a discrimination claim against Wal-Mart. Wilson agreed to represent Brent and the child in the discrimination claims for a one-third contingency fee.

82. In or about June of 2000, Brent submitted a complaint to the Virginia State Bar [bar] alleging that Wilson would not return her telephone calls, that she had received a letter from Wilson eight months prior to the complaint, that Wilson told her he would file her case in court. Wilson had written two letters to Jeff Krause, district manager of Wal-Mart, dated November 16, 1998 and December 14, 1999; both letters were copied to Brent.

83. The bar sent Wilson a letter dated June 14, 2000, asking Wilson to respond to the complaint by communicating with Brent within ten days and copying the bar on the written communication or sending the bar a summary of a telephonic communication with Brent. When the bar did not receive anything from Wilson, the bar sent Wilson a second letter dated July 5, 2000, asking him again to communicate with Brent.

84. Wilson sent the bar a letter dated July 12, 2000, indicating that he had spoken to Brent about the case. The complaint was closed.

85. On or about January 16, 2001, Brent submitted the instant complaint to the bar alleging that Wilson had failed to communicate with her and had done nothing in her case.

86. Wilson informed Investigator Cam Moffatt that as of the date of the interview in April of 2001, the insurance adjustor in the case was seeking additional information in the matter. Wilson stated to the investigator that he had not worked this case as quickly as other cases because there were no set deadlines in this case and he was working other cases with set deadlines first.

87. Wilson sent the bar a copy of a letter dated June 29, 2001, addressed to Jim Ketterman, Case Manager, in which Wilson stated, inter alia:

When I last spoke to an adjuster from your Company,

he mentioned a statute of limitations issue. We are not

looking to litigate this matter, but feel that Wal-Mart

should want to resolve this incident on a "goodwill

basis..."

We are anxious to resolve this matter short of lengthy

and expensive litigation. I am hopeful that your Com-

pany can see the business reasons for resolving this

matter. I would like to amicably close this case before

August 28, 2001.

88. Wilson has not filed suit on behalf of Brent, has taken little or no action in pursuit of Brent's discrimination claim and the case remains unresolved.

II. Nature of Misconduct:

The Court found that the bar proved by clear and convincing evidence that such conduct on the part of Harrison Benjamin Wilson, III, constituted misconduct in violation of the following provisions of the Virginia Code of Professional Responsibility and the Virginia Rules of Professional Conduct:

DR 2-108(A)(1), DR 6-101(A)(1) and (2), DR 6-101(B), DR 6-101(C), Rule 1.1, Rule 1.3(a), Rule 1.4(a), Rule 1.16(a)(1).

VSB Docket No. 01-032-1891 [Clarke]

The Court determined that the bar proved the following by clear and convincing evidence:

89. In or about November of 1997, Complainant Gary Clarke [Clarke] was discharged from his employment as a bus driver by Greyhound for a number of violations of company policy. Clarke sought the services of Wilson regarding that discharge and paid Wilson $1,500.00 on June 7, 1999. A retainer agreement was signed by Wilson dated June 15, 1999 in which the major objective of the representation was stated as "return of job." The agreement called for additional attorneys fees of one-fourth of any recovery.

90. Clarke was issued a Notice of Right to Sue dated July 22, 1999 by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

91. On October 22, 1999, Wilson filed a Complaint For Relief For Discrimination In Employment against Greyhound, et al, in the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Virginia, Richmond Division. The complaint recited as the nature of the action the violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In the complaint Wilson alleged, inter alia, in paragraph 13 that "Mr. Clarke's record with Carolina Trailways has been outstanding. Perhaps a two or three day suspension would have been warranted, not termination." Wilson also alleged disparate treatment in the termination of Clarke based upon race.

92. Discovery was propounded by the defendants. The answers which Wilson filed in response to the defendants' interrogatories provided little if any substantiation for the allegations made in the federal complaint and little if any substantiation of the alleged damages for which a monetary award was sought.

93. On May 9, 2000, the deposition of Clarke was taken. During the deposition Clarke admitted he lacked any evidence of disparate treatment by the defendants.

94. By letter dated June 2, 2000, counsel for the defendant made a settlement offer in the amount of $3,000.00 including that Clarke could resign rather than be fired, be given a neutral reference, and could reapply for a job with the company in three years. In the letter the attorney stated that he had tried to contact Wilson telephonically on approximately eight occasions over the last three weeks and had not had a response.

95. On June 23, 2000, the defendant filed a motion for summary judgment. Wilson failed to respond to the motion and therefore there were no material facts placed in dispute between the parties that would prevent the court from ruling on the motion. The court found that there was no evidence of any disparate treatment of Clarke by the defendants noting that Clarke had testified in his deposition that he had no witnesses or documents to support his disparate treatment or names of employees or situations where he was treated differently; that Clarke had failed to offer any evidence of discriminatory conduct by the defendants. In accordance with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(c) the motion was granted and the case was dismissed by order entered July 13, 2000.

96. On June 30, 2000, Wilson wrote a letter to Clarke noting, inter alia, that "a summary judgment hearing will be held very soon."

97. In the notice of appeal Wilson asserted, inter alia, that there were genuine issues of material fact which were in dispute; that Clarke "would have liked to have had a hearing before a decision was made to summarily dismiss" his case; that Clarke would accept the last settlement offer which "was on the table as of July 12, 2000."

98. By letter dated August 30, 2000, the clerk's office of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit informed Wilson that he needed to file a docketing statement and other forms by September 8, 2000 and failure to do so might cause dismissal of the appeal.

99. By letter dated September 14, 2000, the clerk's office informed Wilson that the case would be dismissed for want of prosecution on September 29, 2000 unless prior to that date Wilson filed a docketing statement and other required forms, noting that he had failed to comply with the previous notice.

100. On October 3, 2000, Wilson filed a docketing statement in the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in which he stated in the section entitled "Issues to be raised on appeal" the following:

The parties were very close to an accord and satisfaction of this case. In lieu of a settlement plaintiff's counsel was seeking a continuance.

There were material issues of fact that plaintiff wanted to present in oral argument.

101. On October 13, 2000, the appellee filed a motion to dismiss for want of prosecution and for costs expended based upon Clarke's default in filing the docketing statement, his failure to file an appellant's brief, and the lack of any non-frivolous grounds for the appeal. Appellee asserted in the motion that "appellant merely wishes to have another chance to reach a settlement with" appellee.

102. The appeal was dismissed upon a consent motion to dismiss in accordance with Rule 42(b) of the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure.

103. The funds paid by Clarke to Wilson were not deposited into a trust account. Said funds were deposited into an operating account. Wilson does not maintain subsidiary ledger records for his trust account.

104. Wilson failed to reasonably communicate with Clarke about the representation.

II. Nature of Misconduct:

The Court found that the bar proved by clear and convincing evidence that such conduct on the part of Harrison Benjamin Wilson, III, constituted misconduct in violation of the following provisions of the Virginia Code of Professional Responsibility and the Virginia Rules of Professional Conduct:

DR 2-108(A)(1), DR 6-101(A)(1) and (2), DR 6-101(B), DR 6-101(C), DR 9-102(A)(1) and (2), DR 9-103(A)(3), Rule 1.1, Rule 1.3(a), Rule 1.4(a), Rule 1.5(a)(1) and (2), Rule 1.15(e)(1)(iii), Rule 1.16(a)(1).

The evidence of the Respondent included the testimony of Dr. Michael Vranian that Mr. Wilson suffers from Type I diabetes and during the time period in question in said cases he was hospitalized on at least four occasions.

Suspension of License

The Court heard evidence and arguments of counsel regarding the appropriate sanction which should be imposed. Upon consideration of the misconduct proven, the evidence and arguments of counsel in aggravation and mitigation,

IT IS ORDERED that EFFECTIVE FRIDAY, MAY 31, 2002, the license of Harrison Benjamin Wilson, III, to practice law in the Commonwealth of Virginia is SUSPENDED for a period of TWO YEARS.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Clerk of the Disciplinary System of the Virginia State Bar shall assess costs against Harrison Benjamin Wilson, III, in accordance with Rules of Court, Part Six, Section IV, Paragraph 13.K.(10).

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that, in accordance with Rules of Court, Part Six, Section IV, Paragraph 13.K.(1), Harrison Benjamin Wilson, III, shall forthwith give notice, by certified mail, of his suspension to all clients for whom he is currently handling matters and to all opposing attorneys and the presiding judges in pending litigation. Mr. Wilson shall also make appropriate arrangements for the disposition of matters then in his care in conformity with the wishes of his clients. Mr. Wilson shall give such notice within fourteen (14) days of the effective date of the suspension order, and make such arrangements as are required herein within forty-five (45) days of the effective date of the suspension order. Mr. Wilson shall also furnish proof to the bar within sixty (60) days of the effective date of the suspension order that such notices have been timely given and such arrangements for the disposition of matters made. In accordance with Paragraph 13.K.(1), issues concerning the adequacy of the notice and arrangements required by such notices shall be determined by the Disciplinary Board of the Virginia State Bar which may impose a sanction of revocation or suspension for failure to comply with the requirements of Paragraph 13.K.(1).

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Clerk of the Circuit Court shall send an attested copy of this Order by first class mail to counsel of record and to the Clerk of the Disciplinary System, Virginia State Bar, Suite 1500, 707 East Main Street, Richmond, VA 23219.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Clerk of the Circuit Court shall place this

matter among the Court's ended cases.

ENTERED THIS DAY OF , 2002.





 

James W. Haley, Jr. designated Chief Judge



 

Benjamin A. Williams, Jr., Judge



William L. Winston, Judge



I Ask For This:



 

Harry M. Hirsch

Deputy Bar Counsel

Virginia State Bar

Suite 1500

707 East Main Street

Richmond, VA 23219

804-775-0560



Seen:



 

Murray J. Janus

Counsel for the Respondent

Bremner, Janus, Cook & Marcus

P.O. Box 826

Richmond, VA 243218-0826