CHARLESTON - The state Supreme Court has suspended the license of a Morgantown attorney after finding her in contempt for violating the terms of a previous order disciplining her for misconduct.
The Court on Feb. 27 ordered the immediate suspension of Joan A. Mooney. The order came in response to a motion filed in October by the Office of Disciplinary Counsel, the investigative arm of the state Bar, that Mooney be held in contempt for disregarding the Court's May 22 order disciplinary order.
In its order, the Court admonished Mooney for failing to diligently pursue a case she filed on behalf of a former client, Raymond Wood, in U.S. District Court in Clarksburg. In addition to her failure to communicate with him, Mooney's admonishment included her failure to provide a sworn statement to ODC in reply to Wood's ethics complaint filed on Nov. 6, 2006.
Court records show Wood hired Mooney to file a lawsuit against Prudential Insurance for denying his late wife long-term disability benefits.
In addition to the admonishment, the Court also ordered that Mooney have her practice supervised for a year, undergo comprehensive psychological counseling to include specific discussion of failing to reply to ODC's inquiries, take six additional hours of continuing education with an emphasis of ethics/office management and pay the cost of the disciplinary proceeding. The cost of the proceeding, records show, was $2,279.96.
Following the court's admonishment order, records show ODC sent Mooney a letter dated July 8 reminding her of her obligation to nominate a supervising attorney. Also, ODC asked for proof she completed the additional continuing education, and she remit payment for the disciplinary proceeding.
Records show Mooney did not reply to either the July 8 letter or the follow-up letter ODC sent on Aug. 15. In its petition, ODC asked that Mooney be held in contempt for failing to respond to two certified letters it sent to her on June 18 and Aug. 18 asking her to respond to a unrelated ethics complaint filed by Pamela Wamsley.
Records show both letters were returned to ODC as "unclaimed."
In its decision per curium, the Court said Mooney displayed contempt by not only failing to abide by the terms of the May 22 order, but also in not defending herself.
"It is abundantly clear that Respondent [Mooney] completely failed to comply with the directives set forth in the May 22, 2008, order of this Court," the order reads. "As further evidence of her utter disregard for this Court's authority, she neither responded to the petition for rule to show cause, nor appeared at the February 3, 2009, hearing."
In its order, the Court said Mooney's license could be reinstated after she provided proof she had fully complied with the May 22 order. Until then, the Court order the chief judge in Monongalia Circuit Court appoint an attorney as a trustee of Mooney's case files to protect the interest of her clients.
West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals, Case No. 34592