Downes v. Miniter
Rule 5.5 of the Rules of Professional Conduct bars the unauthorized practice of law, after an attorney has been suspended. Jeffrey Downes asked the respondent attorney, Francis Miniter, to represent Downes in an employment matter and paid a $1,500 retainer. In November 2011, disciplinary authorities suspended Miniter from the practice of law. In December, Miniter allegedly asked the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities to reschedule a hearing, because he had another hearing scheduled on the same date. Miniter allegedly did not refund the retainer or provide an accounting, when his client hired another attorney. Downes filed a grievance complaint. The Statewide Grievance Committee found, by clear and convincing evidence, that the respondent attorney continued to practice law after he had been suspended, in violation of Rule 5.5 of the Rules of Professional Conduct. Considering the results obtained, the respondent attorney charged an unreasonable legal fee, in violation of Rule 1.5(a) of the Rules of Professional Conduct. The respondent previously has been reprimanded, ordered to take a continuing legal education course and suspended. As a result of the respondent's prior disciplinary history, the Statewide Grievance Committee ordered the respondent's presentment to Superior Court for discipline.