Hello and welcome to this Ethics Alert which will discuss the recent Pennsylvania Supreme Court Order approving the Report and Recommendations of the Pennsylvania Disciplinary Board and suspending a lawyer for 2 years for, inter alia, aiding the unlicensed practice of law, improperly accessing the bankruptcy court’s CM/ECF system, and making false statements when he was confronted with the allegations. The case is Office of Disciplinary Counsel v. William Nivan Renwick, No. 2146 Disc. Docket No. 3, No. 153 DB 2013 (Pa. SC May 14, 2015). The link to the SC Order and Report and Recommendations are here: http://www.pacourts.us/assets/opinions/DisciplinaryBoard/out/153DB2013-Renwick.pdf.
According to the March 12, 2015 Report and Recommendations of the Pennsylvania Disciplinary Board, the lawyer, who had been practicing for more than 30 years, appeared at hearings and creditor meeting for “several” of a suspended lawyer’s clients and filed documents with U.S. Western District of Pennsylvania Bankruptcy Court CM/ECF system by using the suspended lawyer’s electronic filing account number. The lawyer also changed the name on the suspended lawyer’s CM/ECF account twice, once in December 2007 to the name of a lawyer who was not licensed to practice, and a second time in November 2009 to his own name.
The Report further states that the lawyer did not have the required training to use the CM/ECF system and improperly used the suspended lawyer’s account. At a hearing held in August 2012, the chief judge of the bankruptcy court ordered the CM/ECF account closed and required the lawyer to send notices to the those involved in his cases stating that his authorization to file documents on the system had been terminated.
When the chief judge asked the lawyer where worked at the hearing, he told the judge he had been “working in the other office in whatever it is, Altoona or whatever”, which was a false statement. The lawyer was then suspended from practice before the District Court. According to the Report, “(n)ot only did (the lawyer) assist (the suspended lawyer) in the unauthorized practice of law, his own practice was in violation of the federal rules because he didn’t obtain his own identification number. When asked about his practices, (the lawyer) told the judge he practiced in the office of Augusto Delerme in Altoona.” The Pennsylvanoa Supreme Court upheld the Board’s recommendation and suspended the lawyer for 2 years
Bottom line: This lawyer apparently was trying to help a suspended lawyer; however, he failed dismally in his attempts and he also made some misleading/false statements at the hearing before the chief judge along the way.
Disclaimer: this e-mail is not an advertisement, does not contain any legal advice, and does not create an attorney/client relationship and the comments herein should not be relied upon by anyone who reads it.
Joseph A. Corsmeier, Esquire
Law Office of Joseph A. Corsmeier, P.A.
2454 McMullen Booth Road, Suite 431
Clearwater, Florida 33759
Office (727) 799-1688
Fax (727) 799-1670