Brazeal v. Miniter
An attorney who allegedly fails to answer a request for information from counsel for a local disciplinary panel violates Rule 8.1(2) of the Rules of Professional Conduct, even if the claims in the underlying grievance complaint are not proved. In October 2010, Sharon Brazeal hired the respondent attorney, Francis Miniter, to represent her in an employment discrimination case. Brazeal filed a grievance complaint in June 2011, alleging that Miniter failed to file a District Court complaint, prior to the expiration of the statute of limitations. (Miniter denied that he failed to file a complaint timely.) In September, the grievance panel's counsel requested that Attorney Miniter forward a copy of the docket sheet, to indicate that the complaint had been filed. Miniter did not respond, and the local grievance panel found probable cause existed that he was not diligent and did not communicate adequately, in violation of Rules 1.3 and 1.4 of the Rules of Professional Conduct. Miniter testified that he pursued his client's claims before the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities and then filed a suit in District Court. Miniter claimed that there were numerous communications with his client until his client asked that he refrain from working, and at that point he filed a motion to withdraw and his client filed a pro se appearance. The Statewide Grievance Committee found that Attorney Miniter filed the District Court complaint timely and that the complainant failed to prove that he was not diligent and did not communicate adequately, in violation of Rules 1.3 and 1.4 of the Rules of Professional Conduct. The Statewide Grievance Committee did not credit Miniter's claim that he did not receive the request for information from counsel about whether he filed the District Court complaint. The committee found that he violated Rule 8.1(2) of the Rules of Professional Conduct and ordered that Miniter take a continuing legal education course in legal ethics.