Georgia Lawyer Faces Unlicensed Practice Of Law Complaint Over Loan Modification Solicitations Mailed To Rhode Island Homeowners; Letters Contained Non-Existent Local Address; Calls To Local Phone Number Were Redirected To Atlanta
In Providence, Rhode Island, the Providence Journal reports:
- A lawyer from Atlanta, Ga., is in hot water with the Supreme Court's disciplinary counsel for soliciting Rhode Island residents facing mortgage foreclosures while having no office or license to practice law in this state.
According to David Curtin, chief disciplinary counsel for the Rhode Island Supreme Court, Georgia lawyer Daniel J. Saxton "caused solicitation letters to be mailed" to about a dozen Rhode Island residents in February, advising them that their properties were going to be auctioned "on the Providence County Courthouse steps" on a particular date and "suggested that the recipient immediately contact [him] for assistance in mortgage negotiation and settlement."
One of the property owners was offended by the solicitation, Curtin said, and contacted a Rhode Island lawyer who anonymously forwarded the mailing to Curtin's office.
Curtin said the lawyer's solicitation letter listed a local phone number and a firm address of 20 Weybosset Street, an address that does not exist. If someone called the Rhode Island number, the phone was answered at Saxton's law firm in Atlanta, Freeman Saxton P.C., Curtin alleged.
In his disciplinary complaint, Curtin said that on Feb. 28 of this year, a telephone call was placed to the phone number listed on the solicitation and the caller was put through to someone named "Roberto" who insisted that Freeman Saxton P.C. was located at 20 Weybosset St., but that the caller could not come to the office because he did not have an appointment.
Saxton, a partner in the Atlanta firm of Freeman Saxton P.C., faced a public hearing July 23 before the court's disciplinary board, which could recommend a sanction ranging from censure to disbarment. It will be up to the justices of the Rhode Island Supreme Court to make a final decision on the punishment to be meted out, if any.
"By offering to provide legal services to Rhode island residents while not being authorized to do so," Saxton not only violated the Supreme Court Rules of Professional Conduct but he also violated state law "which makes it a criminal offense to practice law without a license or falsely hold oneself out as a lawyer," Curtin wrote in his disciplinary complaint.
Curtin said Wednesday that bar overseers in Georgia are awaiting the Rhode Island disciplinary board's decision.(1)
(1) The Clients' Security Fund of the State Bar of Georgia (Part X of the state Bar rules handbook) was established to provide a public service and to promote confidence in the administration of justice and the integrity of the legal profession by providing some measure of reimbursement to victims who have lost money or property because of theft or misappropriation by a Georgia attorney.
In Rhode Island, the Rhode Island Bar Association's Client Reimbursement Fund was established to provide a public service and to promote confidence in the administration of justice and the integrity of the legal profession by providing some measure of reimbursement to victims who have lost money or property because of theft or misappropriation by a Rhode Island attorney, and occurring in Rhode Island during the course of a client-attorney relationship.+
For similar "attorney ripoff reimbursement funds" that sometimes help cover the financial mess created by the dishonest conduct of lawyers licensed in other states and Canada, see:
- Directory Of Lawyers' Funds For Client Protection (now includes Canadian recovery funds, courtesy of the American Bar Association);
- Check the USA Client Protection Funds Map;
- Check the Canada Client Protection Funds Map.