Connecticut Court Recommends Two-Year Suspension for Immigration Lawyer Who Failed to Diligently and Competently Represent Two Clients

The Court found that the lawyer did not maintain a trust account and, obviously, did not segregate unearned fees from her own personal property. Also, the Court found that the respondent did not diligently represent two men from Albania who were seeking asylum. It wrote:

The second and third grievance actions commenced against the respondent concerned her representation of Valent Kolami and Adrian Emin, brothers-in-law from Albania who originally entered the United States on visitor’s visas around 2000. Kolami and Emin retained the respondent in 2003 to appeal to the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) following its denial of their applications for political asylum.[1] Each paid the respondent a $2500 fee. The respondent did not provide either of them with a written fee agreement, nor did she place the fees into a separate client trust account.The respondent filed appellate briefs before the BIA for Kolami and Emin. The BIA, however, returned the Kolami brief because the respondent certified service to Hartford instead of to New York. In the meantime, the filing deadline for the brief had passed. The respondent therefore moved to late file it. According to the respondent’s testimony, she did not receive notice of the disposition of the appeals, nor did she follow up in order to ascertain those dispositions, until 2011. Both Kolami and Emin went to the respondent’s office frequently between 2003 and 2011 to inquire about the status of their appeals. Each time the respondent told them that she was still awaiting decisions.In August, 2011, agents from United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detained Kolami and Emin. The respondent learned that the appeals to the BIA had in fact been dismissed in 2004—Emin’s on the merits, and Kolami’s because the brief was untimely filed. The respondent filed stays of removal for Kolami and Emin, a task for which each paid the respondent an additional $2500. The respondent did not provide either of them with a written fee agreement. The respondent did not place the fees into a separate client trust account. The stays, and two more that the respondent sought subsequently, were granted. When the fourth set of stays was denied, the respondent told Kolami and Emin that she could no longer represent them and referred them to a colleague. In April, 2012, Kolami and Emin were again detained by ICE. This time, however, Kolami was held in detention for eighteen months, and Emin for sixteen months.

Essentially, the lawyer failed to notify her clients that their appeal were dismissed in 2004 – years before they were detained by ICE.

‘via Blog this’

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