Charla v. Wittstein
Rule 1.3 of the Rules of Professional Conduct provides, "A lawyer shall act with reasonable diligence and promptness in representing a client." A local grievance panel found probable cause that the respondent attorney, James Wittstein, violated Rules 1.1, 1.3, 1.4, 1.15(e), 8.1(2) and 8.4(4) of the Rules of Professional Conduct. The respondent, who was admitted to the bar of the State of Connecticut in 1994, has no prior history of discipline. The respondent claimed that his client asked that he hold onto funds from the proceeds of closing, until she found the creditors' addresses, and that he did not immediately disburse the funds. The respondent waived his right to a full evidentiary hearing and wrote, "I admit that I lost track of the amount of time that I had held onto my client's loan proceeds which were earmarked to pay off certain unsecured debt and that this conduct violated Rule 1.3 of the Rules of Professional Conduct." The Statewide Grievance Committee observed that the respondent kept the money in his IOLTA account and that he eventually distributed the funds and obtained the release of a judgment lien. The Statewide Grievance Committee ordered the respondent to take a continuing legal education course in legal ethics.