Cantales v. Fritzell
An attorney who allegedly falsely represents to a client that he has performed work engages in conduct that involves dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation, in violation of Rule 8.4(3) of the Rules of Professional Conduct. Allegedly, the complainant, Paul Cantales, hired the respondent attorney, Clifford Fritzell III, on March 22, 2011, and Fritzell agreed to file a prejudgment remedy application immediately, on or before March 25, 2011. An affidavit that Fritzell drafted allegedly contained mistakes. Fritzell allegedly did not correct the mistakes. On April 12, 2011, Fritzell allegedly informed Cantales that he had filed the prejudgment remedy application. On April 16, Cantales allegedly discovered that the prejudgment remedy application had not been filed. Cantales fired Fritzell. Fritzell returned his client's $1,325 retainer after Cantales filed a grievance complaint on May 16, 2011. The Statewide Grievance Committee found, by clear and convincing evidence, that the respondent attorney performed little, if any work, other than to draft an affidavit that contained mistakes, although he knew time was of the essence and promised to immediately file a prejudgment remedy application. The respondent was not competent and was not diligent, in violation of Rules 1.1 and 1.3. The respondent attorney allegedly failed to communicate adequately and falsely reported that he had filed a prejudgment remedy application, in violation of Rule 1.4. The respondent attorney charged and collected an unreasonable fee, in return for performing a minimal amount of legal work, in violation of Rule 1.5(a), and he cashed his client's check and did not place the money in his clients' funds' account. The respondent did not file an answer to the grievance complaint, in violation of Rule 8.1(2). The respondent allegedly engaged in conduct that involved dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation, in violation of Rule 8.4(3), because he allegedly falsely informed his client that he had filed the prejudgment remedy application. "There is clear and convincing evidence," wrote the Statewide Grievance Committee, "that the Respondent made this misrepresentation to his client to hide his own failure to perform the work requested." The Statewide Grievance Committee ordered the respondent's presentment to Superior Court for discipline.