On Tuesday, February 20, 2024, the Michigan Attorney Discipline Board disbarred attorney Donald J. Neville for multiple ethical violations.

The case is entitled “In the Matter of Donald J. Neville,” with case nos. 23-22-JC and 23-23-GA.

Neville faced an eight-count formal complaint brought by the Grievance Administrator detailing allegations of egregious misconduct. The counts involved Neville neglecting client cases, failing to perform work he was hired to do, not refunding unearned fees to multiple clients, lying to clients about the status of their matters, assaulting one client sexually, and appearing intoxicated during two court proceedings.

A hearing panel had found Neville committed numerous rule violations and entered a default against him on July 10, 2023, after he failed to file an answer to the complaint. The panel imposed an 181-day suspension. However, the Grievance Administrator sought a harsher penalty and filed a petition for review with the Attorney Discipline Board.

At a hybrid virtual/in-person proceeding on October 18, 2023, the Board considered factors such as the severity of Neville’s misconduct, harm caused to clients, and precedents set in similar cases. Board members found Neville’s actions warranted disbarment rather than a suspension.

Specifically, the Board said Neville’s sexual assault of a divorce client, whom he improperly indicated he could influence the judge on her case, alone merited disbarment under conflict-of-interest standards. Neville also grossly neglected client matters and failed to return unearned fees to multiple clients. His appearances in court drunk affected his clients and disrupted proceedings.

The Board identified numerous aggravating factors in Neville’s case, including prior disciplinary offenses, a pattern of wrongdoing, vulnerability of victims, and substantial legal experience. His substance abuse problems and remorse did not outweigh the severity of his actions.

Thus, on February 20, 2024, the Board published its opinion disbarring Neville and vacating the hearing panel’s 181-day suspension. The disbarment with additional conditions and restitution aims to protect the public and ensure high ethical standards within the legal profession.

The Disposition states:

“Therefore, we vacate the 181-day suspension imposed by the hearing panel, and increase discipline to disbarment with the conditions and restitution as set forth in the hearing panel order.”

According to avvo.com, Mr. Neville was a divorce & separation attorney in Howell, Michigan. He attended the Thomas M. Cooley Law School, graduating in 1999. He acquired his law license in Michigan in the same year.

A copy of the original filing can be found here.