In the matter of White-Steiner (1/08/09)

This is a review of a decision of the Disciplinary Commission. There is legally nothing new here but it and another recent court action emphasize a practice problem.

The lawyer’s trust account was fouled up, mostly because of sloppy treatment of credit-card payments. The hearing officer concluded that the lawyer’s actions were merely negligent; the Commission decided that she knew or should have known of the problem and therefore increased the recommended sanction. The Court adopted the sanction recommended by the hearing officer, pointing out that the Commission must defer to a hearing officer’s factual finding  — in this case that the lawyer was negligent — when the record contains a reasonable basis to support it.

The use of credit cards continues to cause problems. Whether coincidentally or not, the Court recently issued an emergency order (link is to a .pdf) on some of the same issues that tripped up the Steiner firm. If you accept credit cards, you need to read it.