On Wednesday, June 28, 2023, the District of Columbia Court of Appeals Board on Professional Responsibility recommended the disbarment of attorney Robert P. Waldeck for mismanaging client funds and making false statements to his clients regarding their accounts.
The case is entitled “In the matter of Robert P. Waldeck” with case no. 21-BD-038.
The charges cited District of Columbia Rules of Professional Conduct Rule 1.3(a), 1.3(b)(1), 1.3(b)(2), 1.3(c), 1.4(a), 1.16(d), and 8.4(d) which states:
Respondent failed to represent a client zealously and diligently within the bounds of the law.
Respondent intentionally failed to seek the lawful objectives of a client through reasonably available means permitted by law and the disciplinary rules.
Respondent intentionally prejudiced or damaged a client during the course of the professional relationship.
Respondent failed to act with reasonable promptness in representing a client.
Respondent failed to keep a client reasonably informed about the status of a matter and promptly comply with reasonable requests for information.
Respondent failed to take timely steps to the extent reasonably practicable to protect a client’s interests and failed to return unearned fees.
Respondent engaged in conduct that seriously interfered with the administration of justice.
The Rules of Professional Conduct can be found here.
In the specification of charges, it was stated that the District of Columbia Court of Appeals has instituted formal disciplinary proceedings against Robert P. Waldeck, an attorney admitted to practice law in the District of Columbia. The Specification of Charges includes several counts of professional misconduct related to his handling of client funds and cases.
The first count is about an overdraft in his IOLTA account, where he should have kept client money. He did not provide complete records, mismanaged client money, and lied to his clients about their money.
The second count is about his improper handling of a fee payment from a client. He did not keep the money separate, did not respect it as client property, and did not get the client’s permission for a different arrangement.
The third count is about his lack of diligence and communication with a client about their case, which harmed the client’s interests.
The fourth count is similar to the third count, but with a different client who also lost contact with him and did not get timely action on their case.
The fifth count is about his failure to represent a client zealously and diligently, which caused the client to miss an appeal deadline. The sixth and final count is about another client who he stopped talking to after he voluntarily dismissed the case, without re-filing or making any progress.
The Ad Hoc Committee released a report and recommendation that said the Disciplinary Counsel showed clear and convincing evidence that the respondent misused money in a way that was at least reckless.
The report and recommendation states:
“Misappropriation is essentially a per se offense and does not require proof of improper intent. See Anderson, 778 A.2d at 335. Thus, an attorney commits “unauthorized use” when either “the client did not consent to the attorney’s use of the funds” or “the funds or assets were accessed without required prior approval by a court” where required. Harris-Lindsey, 242 A.3d at 624 (applying to hold regarding court approval prospectively). It occurs where “the balance in [the attorney’s] trust account falls below the amount due to the client [or third party].” In re Ahaghotu, 75 A.3d 251, 256 (D.C. 2013) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted). Thus, “when the balance in [a] [r]espondent’s . . . account dip[s] below the amount owed to” the respondent’s client or clients, misappropriation has occurred. In re Chang, 694 A.2d 877, 880 (D.C. 1997) (per curiam) (appended Board Report) (citing In re Pels, 653 A.2d 388, 394 (D.C. 1995)).”
Moreover, the Ad Hoc Committee believes that the Disciplinary Counsel also proved that the respondent commingled, committed dishonesty, failed to diligently represent a client, and failed to seek k the lawful objectives of a client through reasonably available means permitted by law and the disciplinary
In consideration of all these factual allegations, the DC Court of Appeals decided to recommend the disbarment of the respondent.
The recommendation states:
“An Ad Hoc Hearing Committee has concluded that Disciplinary Counsel has proven by clear and convincing evidence that Respondent, Robert P. Waldeck, engaged in at least reckless misappropriation in violation of D.C. Rule 1.15(a), as well as violations ofRu1es 1.3(a), 1.3(c), 1.4(a), 1.5(b), 1.15(b), 1.15(e), 1.16(d), 8.4(c), and 8.4(d), arising from his representation of six different clients.2 The Hearing Committee recommends that Respondent be disbarred.”
Mr. Waldeck practices in Washington, District of Columbia. He is licensed in the District of Columbia with license no. 494643. His info can be found on martindale.com.
A copy of the original filing can be found here.