Ocasio v. Boland
Rule 3.1 of the Rules of Professional Conduct provides, "A lawyer shall not . . . assert or controvert an issue . . . , unless there is a basis in law and fact." In July 2010, the complainant, Miriam Ocasio, hired the respondent attorney, Frederick Boland, to represent her in a custody dispute. Ocasio paid $1,750 and believed that this constituted a flat fee. In August, Ocasio represented herself during mediation. The respondent attorney filed an unsuccessful request for genetic tests and did not file a substantive motion, in response to a motion for custody that the child's father filed. In October, the respondent attorney finally filed a court appearance. The respondent claimed that he filed an earlier appearance and that he provided a written fee contract, although he was unable to produce them. The respondent admitted that he believed the motion for genetic tests lacked merit. The respondent did not provide a comprehensible explanation of the substantive legal work, if any, he performed. The Statewide Grievance Committee found, by clear and convincing evidence, that the respondent was not competent, in violation of Rule 1.1. The respondent's restriction of the scope of his representation was not reasonable, in violation of Rule 1.2(c), because he only intended to represent his client for one or two court appearances, and he intended to end his representation, if his client did not pay additional fees. The respondent was not diligent, in violation of Rule 1.3, because he did not represent his client during mediation or file a response to a motion for custody. The respondent did not communicate adequately, in violation of Rule 1.4. The respondent charged his client an unreasonable fee and did not provide a written fee contract, in violation of Rule 1.5(a) and (b). The respondent knowingly filed a motion that he believed was frivolous, in violation of Rule 3.1. "When the respondent could not find any non-frivolous factual support for the Complainant's request," wrote the Statewide Grievance Committee, "he should have refused to file the motion." The Statewide Grievance Committee ordered the respondent's presentment to Superior Court for discipline.