VSB Docket No. 98-032-1130



THIS MATTER came on January 25, 2002, and again for further proceedings on May17, 2002, before a duly convened panel of the Virginia State Bar Disciplinary Board ("Board"), comprised of John A. Dezio, Chair, Chester J. Cahoon, Jr., Lay Member, Bruce T. Clark, Richard J. Colten, and Peter A. Dingman, pursuant to a Subcommittee Determination (Certification) from the Virginia State Bar Third District, Section 2, Subcommittee. At the first hearing on this matter, on January 25, 2002, Beverly Diane Crawford ("Respondent") appeared in person and at the hearing which was conducted on May 17, 2002, the Respondent did not appear after her request for a continuance had been denied. The Respondent, through these proceedings, has not been represented by counsel, with the exception that she had an attorney previously move for a continuance prior to the January hearing. That lawyer did not enter a general appearance on behalf of the Respondent. The Virginia State Bar appeared by counsel, Harry M. Hirsch, Deputy Bar Counsel.

The matter was called for the first hearing on January 25, 2002, at 9:00 a.m., in the Supreme Court of VirginiaBuilding, Hearing Room A, Richmond, Virginia. The Respondent did not answer the call of the docket, and the Clerk repaired to the hallway and called her name three times. There was no response from the Respondent or her representative. However, at 9:04 a.m., the Respondent entered the hearing room and was present until the hearing was continued during the proceedings. Respondent had filed two prior motions for a continuance of this hearing, one on January 22, 2002, and the second on January 24, 2002. Both motions were denied. The Respondent addressed the Board and stated that she had no witnesses and that she was prepared to proceed at that time. The Chair then swore the Court Reporter, Victoria V. Halasz, Chandler and Halasz, Inc., Post Office Box 9349, Richmond, Virginia 23227 (phone number: 804/730-1222), and polled the members of the Board sitting for this hearing as to whether any of them had any personal or financial interest which would interfere with or influence their unbiased determination of these matters. Each member of the Board, including the Chair, responded in the negative. Thereafter, the Bar called its first witness, Eric T. Hill, who submitted to direct examination. Part way through cross-examination, the Respondent asked for a recess and then moved for a continuance based upon her feeling ill. At 10:25 a.m., the matter was continued to May 17, 2002, at which time the Board reconvened with the same Board members present.

The matter, after due notice, was again called on Friday, May 17, 2002, at the State Corporation Commission, Courtroom C, in Richmond, Virginia. There was no answer by the Respondent to the calling of the docket, and Respondent's name was called three times in the hallway at 9:05 a.m. Again, there was no answer by the Respondent or a representative. The Clerk called the Respondent's name in Courtroom B as well, and still there was no answer. Respondent's Motion for a further continuance, filed with the Board on May 16, 2002, had been denied and the matter proceeded. The Bar's witnesses returned and the Bar was again represented by Harry M. Hirsch, Deputy Bar Counsel. All exhibits submitted by the Bar were admitted into evidence, and further testimony and argument was taken before the identical members of the Board who were present at the January 25, 2002, hearing. At this time, the Court Reporter was Jennifer L. Hairfield, also employed by the registered professional reporting firm of Chandler and Halasz, Inc., located at Post Office Box 9349, Richmond, Virginia 23227 (phone number: 804/730-1222).

Additional testimony was taken from Linda W. Carpenter, custodian of the Commissioner of Accounts' records, Fletcher D. Watson, Commissioner of Accounts for the Allegheny County Circuit Court, William T. Stone and Eric T. Hill, who was briefly recalled for further testimony. t appeared from the testimony and the exhibits introduced into evidence that the Respondent, Beverly Diane Crawford, represented the Estate of George D. Hill, Jr., as well as the Executrix of the same Estate, Gladys Hill Johnson, now also deceased. It was also proved by the Bar, by clear and convincing evidence, that all accountings of the Estate, with the exception of the second such accounting, were filed late, incomplete, and each with numerous errors and/or omissions. The evidence further established, by clear and convincing evidence, that the Commissioner of Accounts filed several delinquency reports with the Circuit Court. Three Show-Cause Rules were entered by the Circuit Court, and the Respondent failed to address or remedy the exceptions to the accountings filed by the Commissioner of Accounts. The exceptions included issues involving attorneys' fees found to be unreasonable and excessive, based on services rendered, Executrix fees, which were unjustified, and failure to account for estate property having a balance of approximately $80,000 in value. The evidence further established that the final accounting was defective, and there has not yet, nine and three-quarters years after the qualification of the Executrix (August 6, 1992), been a final distribution of the estate to Eric T. Hill. It should be noted that in or about October 1996, the Circuit Court forAllegheny County ordered that the remaining assets of the Estate of George D. Hill, Jr., be distributed to Eric T. Hill. As of May 17, 2002, Mr. Hill testified he has not yet received the residual of the estate.

The Board unanimously finds that the Bar failed to prove by clear and convincing evidence that the Respondent, Beverly Diane Crawford, violated DR7-105(A) and that charge is therefore dismissed. The Board unanimously found that the Bar sustained its burden, by clear and convincing evidence, that the Respondent, Beverly Diane Crawford, violated DR2-105(A)-A lawyer's fees shall be adequately explained to the client. Although the Respondent had been admonished numerous times by the Commissioner of Accounts regarding the unreasonableness of the fees charged by the Respondent to the Estate, she ignored the admonitions and failed to respond or remedy the problem. The Commissioner of Accounts testified that the fees charged, in excess of $21,000, were "unconscionable." The Board further unanimously finds that the Respondent, Beverly Diane Crawford, violated DR6-101(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. It is obvious from the testimony and exhibits that the evidence clearly and convincingly established that the Estate has not yet been properly administered and distributed. The administration of the Estate has been pending for nine and three-quarters years. Throughout the handling of the administration of the Estate, the Respondent failed to file accurate or timely accountings. Property remains unaccounted for, and the October 19, 1996, Order from the Allegheny Circuit Court has not yet been complied with.


 The Board took into consideration all of the evidence in the instant matter as well as the prior disciplinary record of the Respondent. There have been two prior private reprimands and two prior public reprimands issued against the Respondent. The Board further took into consideration the ABA sanction guidelines as well as the Respondent's unwillingness to cooperate with the disciplinary system, and specifically the Board, in this instant matter. The Show Cause Rule entered on January 29, 2002, by this Board based upon Respondent's failure to comply with a prior Order entered by the Board is found to be moot and is thereby dismissed.

Accordingly, it is ORDERED that the license to practice law in the Courts of this Commonwealth heretofore issued to Beverly Diane Crawford be, and the same hereby is REVOKED effective MAY 17, 2002.

It is further ORDERED that, as directed in the Board's May 17, 2002 Summary Order in this matter, a copy of which was served on Respondent by certified mail, Respondent must comply with the requirements of Part 6, Section IV, Paragraph 13(K)(1) of the Rules of the Supreme Court of Virginia. The time for compliance with said requirements runs from the May 17, 2002 effective date of the Summary Order. All issues concerning the adequacy of the notice and arrangements required by the Summary Order shall be determined by the Board.

It is further ORDERED that Beverly Diane Crawford shall furnish true copies of all the notice letters and to all persons notified of the revocation, with the original return receipts for said notice letters to the Clerk of the Disciplinary System on or beforeJuly 16, 2002.

It is further ORDERED that costs shall be assessed against the Respondent in accordance with the Rules of the Supreme Court of Virginia, Part Six, Section IV, Paragraph 13(k)(10), and the Respondent shall comply therewith.

It is further ORDERED that the Clerk of the Disciplinary System shall send an attested copy of this order to the Respondent, Beverly Diane Crawford, at her address of record with the Virginia State Bar, 4221 Chamberlayne Avenue, Richmond, Virginia 23227, by certified mail, return receipt requested, and by regular mail, and that a copy be provided by mail or hand-delivery to Harry M. Hirsch, Deputy Bar Counsel, at his office located at 707 E. Main Street, Suite 1500, Richmond, Virginia 23219.

ENTERED this __________ day of _______________________, 2002.



John A. Dezio, First Vice Chair