Court suspends Weirton attorney's license

By Lawrence Smith | Dec 4, 2009

CHARLESTON - For failing to abide by the terms of a prior disciplinary order it handed down last year, the state Supreme Court has suspended the license of a Hancock County attorney.

The Court on Nov. 25 ordered that David A. Barnabei be suspended from practicing law for ignoring the directives in its Sept. 25, 2008, order reprimanding him. The suspension came in response to a petition for contempt the Office of Disciplinary Counsel, the investigative arm of the state Bar, filed last December stating that, despite repeated requests, Barnabei failed to provide proof he was complying with the Court's 2008 order.

Records show Barnabei, 51, a sole practitioner in Weirton, was reprimanded for mishandling three criminal cases in which he was court-appointed counsel. In addition his failure to communicate with those client, as well as timely terminate his representation of one when he found another attorney, Barnabei was charged with failing to timely comply with an investigative inquiry.

As a result of his lack of diligence, and the absence of prior disciplinary action, the Court decided to reprimand Barnabei. Included in the reprimand were directives he pay the cost of the disciplinary proceeding - $1,499.17 - have his practice supervised for a year, undergo psychological evaluation, and take six additional hours of continuing education.

When Barnabei ignored at least two letters ODC sent him asking him to provide proof he was complying with the Court' order, including the names of his treating psychologist, and of the attorney he wanted to supervise his practice, ODC filed its contempt petition. Barnabei neither filed a answer to ODC's contempt petition, nor appeared before the Court on April 8 when it was scheduled for oral arguments.

Barnabei's suspension remains in effect until he's met all the terms of the original reprimand.

West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals, case number 34707

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