On Thursday, March 7, 2024, the District of Columbia Court of Appeals suspended attorney Alvin S. Brown from practicing law for 60 days for violating numerous rules of professional conduct while representing a client dealing with tax issues in New York.

The case is entitled “In the Matter of Alvin S. Brown” with case number 20-BG-0589.

The case stemmed from Brown agreeing in 2016 to represent Ali Pascal Bahri, who owed over $68,000 in sales tax debts to New York from when he owned a company that failed to pay sales taxes in 2003. Brown charged Bahri a $4,000 flat fee to seek either an offer in compromise or an abatement to reduce the tax burden.

However, the court found that Brown violated his duty of competent representation. He failed to adequately research the proper procedures for seeking an abatement in New York and instead wrongly pursued an offer in compromise without following through on the process. This delayed resolving Bahri’s tax issues while penalties and interest continued accruing on his debts.

Brown also violated his duties of diligence, keeping his client informed, and charging a reasonable fee. He waited months to take any substantive action on Bahri’s case while providing misleading status updates. When he did submit an offer in compromise, it contained factual errors and inconsistently stated Bahri’s position on the debt.

After New York requested more information, Brown failed to inform Bahri and neglected to respond. He then abandoned the case without informing his client. Brown charged Bahri a $4,000 flat fee but provided no benefit or value from his representation.

The Court agreed with the disciplinary hearing board that Brown violated eight rules of professional conduct and suspended him for 60 days. It also required Brown to prove his fitness to practice law again by demonstrating his competence and ethics before being reinstated. He must pay $4,000 plus six years of interest in restitution to Bahri for the legal fees he failed to earn.

In its ruling, the Court emphasized the seriousness of Brown’s misconduct and his failure to take responsibility or acknowledge any wrongdoing. His suspension and required restitution aim to protect the public and deter other lawyers from providing similarly substandard representation.

According to Avvo, Mr. Brown graduated from Van Norman University CA. He obtained his law license in the District of Columbia in 1979.

A copy of the original filing can be found here.