CHARLESTON – As punishment for neglecting the cases of seven clients, the state Bar is asking the state Supreme Court to suspend a Wood county attorney's license.
Among the cases on the Court's docket for Tuesday is Lawyer Disciplinary Board v. Joseph P. Albright Jr. The Board is asking the Court to suspend Albright for three months as punishment for committing 17 violations of the Rules of Professional Conduct.
According the statement of charges the Board filed against him on Oct. 19, 2009, Albright violated seven separate Rules in handling the cases of David K. Samuels, Richard F. Hart, Marlene and Mitchell Grondalski, Grant DeGarmo, Jennifer Cooper, Mary B. Hardesty and Beth Agnew. The Rules violations ranged from misconduct, declining or terminating representation, expediting litigation and communication.
In all the cases, Albright was charged with one count of failing to respond to an ethics inquiry.
The Board recommended a suspension for Albright based on his repeated failure to communicate with clients, his membership in the Bar for 22 years and prior disciplinary action. Albright was reprimanded in 2007 for not diligently settling the estate of a Parkersburg man, and held in contempt in 2009 for not complying with the Court's previous order directing him to settle the estate and provide the Bar a quarterly update of his progress.
Though it ordered the immediate suspension of his license as punishment for the contempt finding, the Court placed a 120-day stay on it to allow Albright time to settle the estate. Records show it was settled last January.
In addition to the three-month suspension, the Board asks that as a condition of his readmission to the Bar Albright submit a formal petition, take an additional nine hours of continuing education in ethics with an emphasis in office management, make restitution to Samuels and Cooper $600, and $1,200, respectively and pay the costs of the disciplinary proceeding. Also, the Board asks that upon readmission, his practice be supervised for two years, and he not only meets with an approved psychologist, but also takes his or her recommendations.
As of presstime, Albright had yet to file an answer to the Board's brief.
West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals case number 35282