On Thursday, August 10, 2023, the District of Columbia Court of Appeals suspended attorney Gemma Antoine-Belton for improper conduct as guardian or conservator for disabled adult wards.

The case is entitled “In the Matter of Gemma Antoine-Belton,” with case No. 23-BG-0543.

On June 29, 2023, the District of Columbia Court of Appeals Ad Hoc Hearing Committee recommended the suspension of Antoine-Belton. A petition for negotiated disposition was jointly submitted by the Disciplinary Counsel of the District of Columbia and the individual under scrutiny. This case originated when the Disciplinary Counsel received a complaint from the probate court, alleging inappropriate behavior by Antoine-Belton during his tenure as a conservator and/or guardian for adults deemed incapacitated.

The investigation uncovered that Antoine-Belton had assisted her wards in generating rental income. However, instead of collecting it for the wards’ estate or reporting it as income in their annual accounts, she allowed the wards to directly receive the payments. Antoine-Belton admitted to several violations of professional conduct in connection with this. She acknowledged her failure to provide competent representation, lack of commensurate skill and care in serving her clients, and allowing her personal interests to potentially affect her professional judgment.

Antoine-Belton confessed to violating D.C. R. Prof. Conduct 1.1(a)-(b), 1.7(b)(4), and 8.4(d). To address these violations, the proposed discipline included a 60-day suspension, with a 30-day stay, followed by a one-year probation term. During probation, Antoine-Belton has to complete specific requirements, such as a training course offered by the District of Columbia Bar and further continuing legal education in relevant areas. She was also directed to consult with the manager of the Practice Management Advisory Service, allowing an assessment of her practice, recommendations for improvement, and subsequent compliance monitoring.

The court expressed its dissatisfaction with the situation, eventually allowing Antoine-Belton to step down and appoint a new guardian. Nevertheless, conflicts emerged subsequently, leading to legal disputes related to landlord-tenant matters within the adult intervention proceedings. All in all, the actions of Antoine-Belton contravened her obligations to uphold competence, avoid conflicts of interest, and refrain from impeding the proper administration of justice.

The order states:

“Accordingly, it is ORDERED that respondent Gemma Antoine-Belton is hereby suspended from the practice of law in the District of Columbia for 60 days, stayed as to all but 30 days, followed by a one-year term of probation with following conditions.”

According to avvo.com, Ms. Antoine-Belton practices in Washington, District of Columbia. She is licensed in the District of Columbia.

A copy of the original filing can be found here.