Case Caption: In re Suspension of Sharon Eichenaur-SchoenlebenCase Number: S. Ct. Civ. Nos. 2013-0051; 2013-0076Date: 10/25/2013Author: Per CuriamCitation: Summary:

In matters before the Court pursuant to a petition for disciplinary action filed by the Ethics & Grievance Committee of the Virgin Islands Bar Association, requesting suspension of a member of the bar of the Virgin Islands, and transfer of the attorney to disability inactive status by consent, the petition for transfer is rejected, and the petition for disciplinary action is granted, as modified. Pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 207.6.24, a lawyer who possesses a physical or mental condition that adversely affects the ability to practice law may be transferred to disability inactive status. In this case, however, the petition to transfer to disability inactive status and to indefinitely defer a ruling on the petition for disciplinary action is not properly before this Court. Rule 207.6.24, by its own terms, does not entitle a respondent to an automatic stay of indefinite duration merely because the respondent alleges an inability to defend. Rather, the Committee must hear evidence and determine whether that claim is valid or invalid. In this case neither petition nor the accompanying “Offer to Consent” even identifies the disability that purportedly renders the attorney unable to defend herself in these proceedings or to practice law. The Committee found that the attorney violated Model Rules of Professional Conduct 1.1, 1.3, and 1.4. In addition, because the attorney has not filed any documents with this Court she has violated Model Rule 8.1(b) as well. All of the factual allegations are accepted as true and, upon review, those facts rise to the level of ethical violations. Considering the duties violated, the lawyer's mental state; the potential and actual injury caused by the lawyer's misconduct, and the multiple aggravating factors which heavily outweigh the single mitigating factor, the attorney shall be suspended from the practice of law for 12 months, required to make restitution, and to reimburse the Committee for the costs it has, and will, incur in conjunction with this matter

Attachment: Open Document or Opinion