Mercado v. Lawler
The Statewide Grievance Committee can deny Disciplinary Counsel's request to charge an attorney with additional rules violations, when the attorney is presented to Superior Court for discipline, if the attorney did not receive notice and the opportunity to defend against the additional charges. In October 2005, Jose Mercado allegedly hired the respondent attorney, George Lawler of Fairfield, to represent Mercado and his spouse in a personal-injury case. In May 2009, a court entered a judgment of nonsuit. Attorney Kenneth Beck filed a legal malpractice suit, on behalf of Mercado, against the respondent attorney, who was defaulted. In August 2011, a court entered judgment of $25,000 against the respondent. Mercado filed a grievance complaint, alleging that the respondent failed to pay. The Statewide Grievance Committee rejected the respondent attorney's claim that the judgment did not constitute an "order." The decision clearly stated that the respondent was required to pay $25,000, plus costs. The respondent has been reprimanded 10 times previously. The Statewide Grievance Committee ordered the respondent's presentment to Superior Court for discipline. The Statewide Grievance Committee rejected Disciplinary Counsel's request to charge the respondent with violating Rules 1.1, 1.3, 1.4 and 1.16 of the Rules of Professional Conduct, because the respondent did not receive notice and the opportunity to defend against the additional charges.