Detour v. Buhl
Rule 1.3 of the Rules of Professional Conduct provides, "A lawyer shall act with reasonable diligence and promptness in representing a client." The complainant and his spouse hired the respondent attorney, Paul Buhl, to defend them in a real-estate matter. The jury returned a plaintiffs' verdict to their opponents in the amount of approximately $20,000. The respondent attorney filed an appeal on behalf of his clients. Allegedly, the complainant asked the respondent attorney to attempt to settle, and the respondent attorney failed to return his client's phone calls. The respondent attorney did not file an answer to the grievance complaint, and disciplinary counsel filed a request to suspend the respondent from the practice of law. The respondent attorney claimed that he did not file an answer to the grievance complaint, because he experienced difficulty with his mail. The respondent attorney also argued that he discounted his legal fees significantly, and that the fee reduction was greater than any reduction that he might have obtained for his clients as a result of a settlement. The Statewide Grievance Committee found, by clear and convincing evidence, that although the respondent attorney competently represented his clients at trial, he did not work diligently or communicate adequately after the trial, in violation of Rules 1.3 and 1.4 of the Rules of Professional Conduct. The Statewide Grievance Committee ordered disciplinary counsel to present the respondent attorney to Superior Court for discipline, so that various disciplinary matters can be consolidated.