08.22.2014 Suspension with Possible Stay [Wake County]

North Carolina State Bar Building Photo Courtesy of the North Carolina State Bar

Entered on August 18, 2014, the North Carolina State Bar suspended Robert E. Griffin from the practice of law for three years. Griffin was suspended for various misappropriations and mishandling of client funds, a failure of diligence in representing his clients, and engaged in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice.

Griffin received an admonition in 1981, a suspension in 1989, and a reprimand in 2005.

In the instances related to this case, Griffin, failed to file a motion for continuance for a client and mistook communication between his office and the Industrial Commission, which resulted in Griffin informing his client continuance was granted causing his client and himself to not be present for the Industrial Commission hearing. Griffin did not notify the client of the proceedings or attend himself. At various other times, he did not answer phone calls or communicate well with his client. For another client, Griffin assisted with the preparation of a deed for which he did not record timely or fully understand the property conveyed when recording. Generally, from 2007 to 2012, Griffin deposited mixed funds into his operating account rather than trust account, failed to promptly deposit entrusted funds into the trust account, failed to engage in actions required by the Rules of Professional Conduct to properly maintain entrusted funds, and delegated various trust account duties and other such duties to his assistant, but failed to supervise her performance.

The Hearing Panel found the following rules were violated: failing to keep the client reasonably informed about the status of the matter, failing to promptly comply with reasonable requests for information, engaging in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice, failing to act with reasonable diligence and promptness in representing a client, collected an excessive fee, failing to take steps to protect his client’s interests upon termination of representation, failing to hold and maintain entrusted funds separate from his property, failing to deposit trust funds into his trust account, using entrusted property for the benefit of himself and persons other than the legal owner, failing to promptly pay entrusted funds, failing to deposit mixed funds intact into the trust account, failing to make reasonable efforts to ensure his non-attorney assistant’s conduct was compatible with his professional obligations, and failing to conduct monthly and quarterly reconciliations of his trust account.

Griffin is suspended from the practice of law for three years and within six months of his active suspension may apply for stay of the remaining period of suspension.

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