In re William J. McCARTY, Jr.
Motion to Defer Suspension Date Denied July 5, 2013.
[Copyrighted Material Omitted]
Beth DeBernardi, Disciplinary Counsel, Burlington, for Petitioner.
Gary D. McQuesten of Valsangiacomo, Detora & McQuesten, PC, Barre, for Respondent.
Present: REIBER, C.J., DOOLEY, SKOGLUND, BURGESS and ROBINSON, JJ.
¶ 1. A panel of the Professional Responsibility Board (PRB) concluded that respondent William McCarty violated Vermont Rules of Professional Conduct for his participation in the wrongful eviction of Denise Brennan. The panel recommended that respondent be suspended from the practice of law for six months. Respondent contends that the panel had insufficient evidence to support a finding that he violated the rules; that laches should bar the disciplinary action; and that the resulting sanctions were excessive. We conclude that respondent violated the rules and find the defense of laches inapplicable in this case. However, we find a three-month suspension to be a more appropriate sanction.
¶ 2. Admitted to the Vermont Bar in 1967, respondent established his law practice in Brattleboro. For a number of years, respondent represented Sandra Glick in various legal matters. Sandra Glick owned a home in Brattleboro. In July 2001, she entered into an oral agreement with Denise Brennan to rent Brennan a room in her home with access to most of the property. Brennan moved in days later. Shortly thereafter, on August 8, 2001, Sandra Glick was hospitalized for several weeks as a result of her bipolar disorder. With Sandra Glick hospitalized, Gabrielle Glick, Sandra Glick's adult daughter, became uncomfortable with Brennan living in her mother's home, as she had suspicions that Brennan had impermissibly used Sandra Glick's ATM card.
¶ 3. On August 10, 2001, Gabrielle Glick informed Brennan that she must vacate the premises in thirty days, or by September 9, 2001. Brennan began packing her belongings to comply with Gabrielle's request. Gabrielle then hired respondent to assist with the eviction process, as Gabrielle lived and worked in Massachusetts. On August 13, 2001, respondent sent a letter to Brennan, notifying her that he represented Gabrielle Glick and reiterating that she must leave the premises immediately, no later than September 9. Brennan received the letter on August 16, 2011.
¶ 4. Respondent then composed a second letter to Brennan, which was identical in all respects, except that it did not contain the date by which Brennan was to vacate the property (September 9) and stated that " [t]he desire is that you vacate immediately." Along with the second letter, respondent drafted another document entitled " Notice to Vacate," styled to look like a formalized court order in a suit brought by Sandra Glick, Landlord/Plaintiff against Brennan, Tenant/Defendant. The Notice was signed by respondent on behalf of Sandra Glick. The text of the Notice provided:
Pursuant to the provisions of 9 V.S.A. § 4468, you, Denise Brennan are hereby notified to vacate the premises and to restore the premises to its condition at the beginning of the rental term.
If you remain in possession after August 17, 2001, Landlord Sandra Glick will be compelled to bring an action for possession as authorized by 9 V.S.A. § 4468, et. al.
¶ 5. On August 17, 2001, Deputy Sheriff Lavalla, a longtime acquaintance of respondent, met Gabrielle Glick at respondent's office and picked up the second letter and the Notice to Vacate with the intention of serving Brennan. Deputy Sheriff Lavalla and Gabrielle Glick went to Sandra Glick's home and served the papers on Brennan and informed her that she was to vacate the premises immediately. Brennan tried to discuss the matter with Deputy Sheriff Lavalla, showing him previous documents which stated that she was not required to vacate the premises until September 9, 2001. Deputy Sheriff Lavalla refused to look at the papers and insisted that she leave immediately. He threatened to handcuff and arrest her if she did not leave.
¶ 6. Chaos ensued. Unable to reach respondent to make sense of the matter, Brennan became hysterical. She had nowhere to go and no one to care for her dog. After locking her belongings in a room in the house, Deputy Sheriff Lavalla took Brennan to the Brattleboro Hospital Emergency Room, at her request. Animal control took the dog. As a result of the sudden eviction, Brennan suffered serious emotional and physical consequences, including post ...