CHARLESTON – The lack of urgency in responding to an ethics investigation, records show, is what led to Dan Grindo's four admonishments.
Along with his lack of diligence in filing two appeals in 2010 and 2011 to the state Supreme Court, the Lawyer Disciplinary Board said four prior admonishments in 2008 and 2009 led it file the Feb. 21 statement of charges against him. In the four complaints filed against him between Jan. 11, 2008 and May 23, 2009, Grindo answered them only after he was served with a subpoena dues tecum.
The complaints were lodged by Linda M. Steen of Gassaway, Charles E. Ball of Sutton, Jesse A. Lynch, then an inmate at the Mt. Olive Correctional Complex near Smithers, and Robin L. Goodrich of Glenville. Steen's and Goodrich's complaint stem from allegations Grindo was slow in returning money due them while Ball and Lynch alleged he either failed to show or keep them informed of hearings in their respective cases.
After decided against pursing a right-of-way issue, Steen asked Grindo to refund her $1,000 retainer. When he failed to make good on his word to return it after several weeks, Steen lodged her complaint.
Records show, on Nov. 24, 2009, he sent Steen her money along with a written apology.
In her complaint, Goodrich alleged Grindo failed to timely send her a check for $3,750 she received from interests in real estate her ex-husband owned while they were married. Along with filing her ethics complaint, records show, Goodrich filed suit against Grindo in Gilmer Magistrate Court where she received default judgment against him on Oct. 14, 2008, initially for $4372.31 plus $95 in court costs.
After appealing the judgment to Gilmer Circuit Court, the pair on Nov. 21 agreed to settle the dispute with Goodrich keeping all but $517.31. The amount appears to be an unspecified medical bill Goodrich owed which, in his response to her complaint, Grindo said he felt he had an obligation to pay, and was thus the delay in getting the balance of her money to her.
Also, Grindo said in early 2008 "his attention was directed elsewhere," mostly on his campaign for prosecutor.
Grindo's absence at a July 9, 2007, contempt hearing against the unnamed defendant in a property dispute involving Ball is what led Ball to file his complaint. After served with the subpoena, Grindo said he missed Ball's hearing due to a hearing in Webster County running longer than expected.
Though he contacted the judge's office to inform him of the delay, Grindo said the judge already denied the contempt petition. Though they later agreed to proceed to a hearing before a special commissioner involving the property, Ball later cancelled the hearing.
Records show, along with filing his ethics complaint, Ball filed suit against Grindo which was later settled on an unspecified date.
According to his complaint, Lynch says Grindo was appointed to represent him in an unspecified criminal matter in June 2008. He alleged Grindo not only failed to inform him of a hearing, but also did not respond to multiple requests for documents.
Also, Lynch said Grindo placed "a block on his phone to prevent him from calling his office collect from the prison."
In responding to Lynch's complaint, Grindo said he attempted to get the details of the documents Lynch wanted by discussing them with him at the prison. However, he says Lynch refused to meet with him.
According to Grindo, he later withdrew from the case.
In closing all the complaints on Dec. 16, 2009, Stephen Jory, chairman of the Board's investigative panel, noted that Grindo "profusely apologized for his failure to respond to his client's complaint and indicated that he had made significant changes to his law practice to ensure against the same from occurring in the future." Nevertheless, he was "warned that in the future, his failure to respond to the Office of Disciplinary Counsel's request for information, will lead this Board to seek a more severe sanction with the [Court]."