STATEWIDE GRIEVANCE COMMITTEE
Kathleen Bennett, Complainant vs. Zenas Zelotes, Respondent
Grievance Complaint #05-0765
Pursuant to Practice Book §2-35, the undersigned, duly-appointed reviewing committee of the Statewide Grievance Committee, conducted a hearing at the Superior Court, 235 Church Street, New Haven, Connecticut on December 7, 2005. The hearing addressed the record of the complaint filed on August 12, 2005, and the probable cause determination filed by the New London Judicial District Grievance Panel on September 29, 2005, finding that there existed probable cause that the Respondent violated Rule 1.1 of the Rules of Professional Conduct.
Notice of the hearing was mailed to the Complainant, to the Respondent and to the Office of the Chief Disciplinary Counsel on November 3, 2005. Pursuant to Practice Book §2-35(d), Assistant Disciplinary Counsel Frank Blando pursued the matter before this reviewing committee.
The Complainant and the Respondent appeared and testified. No exhibits were received into evidence at the hearing.
This reviewing committee makes the following findings of fact by clear and convincing evidence:
In November of 2004, the Complainant retained the Respondent for representation in her personal bankruptcy. At that time, the Complainant had two mechanic’s liens on her real property which the Respondent agreed to have removed. The Respondent did not know that mechanic’s liens could not be discharged in bankruptcy. The Respondent had charged the Complainant $225 for discharging the liens. The Respondent has refunded the $225 to the Complainant. The Respondent also made numerous procedural mistakes during the course of his representation of the Complainant.
This reviewing committee also considered the following:
The Respondent has admitted errors in his handling of the Complainant’s bankruptcy. The Respondent has expressed remorse for his errors. The Respondent has no prior discipline. The Respondent was admitted to the practice of law in 2001.
This reviewing committee finds the following violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct by clear and convincing evidence:
The Respondent’s representation of the Complainant lacked the legal knowledge, skill, thoroughness and preparation reasonably necessary for her bankruptcy and, therefore, violated Rule 1.1 of the Rules of Professional Conduct. Accordingly, we order, pursuant to Practice Book §2-37(a)(5), that the Respondent attend a continuing legal education course in the area of bankruptcy procedure, in-person and at his own expense. The course must consist of a minimum of three (3) credit hours and must be completed within six (6) months of the issuance of this decision. The Respondent is further ordered to provide the Statewide Grievance Committee with written confirmation of his compliance with this condition within thirty (30) days of completion of the continuing legal education course.
DECISION DATE: 1/27/06
Attorney Tracie Molinaro
Attorney Margarita Moore
Mr. William Murphy