Attorney Mishandles Trust Funds – Suspension Stayed In Favor of Probation

Filed November 24:

The Hearing Board recommended that a lawyer (Michael Edward Sweeney) be suspended for four months (stayed by probation) for clumsy handling of client funds, including failing to cash a settlement check for four months. Because the check was sitting in a desk drawer, and the funds were not in the lawyer’s trust account, the lawyer inadvertently converted client funds when he issued checks on the trust account, including checks to himself.

Because he cooperated with the ARDC, expressed remorse and promptly made the client whole, the penalty was less than it might have been.  The Hearing Board explained:

In mitigation, Respondent has no prior discipline and presented favorable character evidence. He has acknowledged his mistakes and expressed remorse. He promptly made Ms. Yunker whole and has made changes to his bookkeeping procedures. We heard no evidence that Respondent was experiencing financial difficulties when he mishandled the client funds at issue and he appeared to have sufficient funds available from a variety of sources. Respondent also engages in community service. The Administrator submitted Respondent was cooperative during his disciplinary proceedings.”

Comment: even a negligent error can be found to be conversion. However, how the error is handled is very important to the ARDC and the Hearing Board.


Edward X. Clinton, Jr.

‘via Blog this’

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