CHARLESTON – The West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals has issued an order to reprimand an attorney for violating Rules of Professional Conduct when he personally paid his client’s child support.
Richard J. Lindroth was admonished, was ordered to complete an additional nine hours of continuing legal education and was order to pay the costs of the proceedings.
On April 6, 2015, Tabitha D. Smith filed an ethics complaint against Lindroth, alleging that while he represented her ex-husband, he continued to filed continuances for subsequent hearings and she believed he was purposefully scheduling doctor’s appointments at the same time hearings were scheduled and that he would not provide her with copies of orders or rescheduled hearing notices to her, or other documents related to the case.
Smith also alleged that Lindroth angered a witness by asking her if she was paid for her testimony.
Lindroth answered the complaint on April 22, 2015, responding that he had been hired by Ralph Slack only days before the June 2014 hearing and had not been provided any paperwork and had to request the first continuance because of that.
Lindroth also stated that he did not provide notice to Smith because he, as counsel for Slack, he was not required to do so. He admitted to asking the witness whether she was paid for her testimony, but does not recall her being angered by the question.
In his response, Lindroth said that he had been battling cancer and heart problems for the past two years and that his medical conditions required multiple medical appointments and testing, which were scheduled without his input. He denied that he deliberately set medical appointments to conflict with hearing dates and stated that he would reschedule a medical appointment if possible, as opposed to filing a continuance with the court.
Lindroth also denied that he concealed documents from Smith and said that he provided copies of motions to continue to her, but the orders regarding those motions are provided to the parties by the clerk of the court.
In his response, Lindroth also mentioned that he had personally paid two months of Smith’s child support when he could not reach his client to do so because he felt sorry for her raising a child as a single parent.
On June 17, 2015, Disciplinary Counsel sent a letter to Lindroth asking him some questions regarding the matter and gave him 20 days to respond, which he failed to do.
Because Lindroth paid his client’s child support, he violated Rule 1.8(e) of the Rules of Professional Conduct.
Lindroth was directed to pay $586.80 for transcript invoices, telephone conference invoices and hearing costs in the disciplinary matter.
W.Va. Supreme Court of Appeals case number: 16-0016