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In re Edelstein

Supreme Court of Delaware

June 18, 2014

In the Matter of LEONARD B. EDELSTEIN, Respondent

Submitted June 6, 2014

Case Closed July 7, 2014.

Editorial Note:

This decision has been designated as "Table of Decisions Without Published Opinions." in the Atlantic Reporter.

Board Case No. 2012-0258-B.

Patricia Bartley Schwartz, Esquire for Petitioner, Office of Disciplinary Counsel.

Charles Slanina, Esquire for Respondent.

Before STRINE, Chief Justice, BERGER and RIDGELY, Justices. Before Theresa V. Brown-Edwards, Esquire (Chair), Susan H. Kirk-Ryan, Esquire and Louise Roselle.

OPINION

ORDER

Henry duPont Ridgely, Justice

This 18th day of June 2014, it appears to the Court that the Board on Professional Responsibility has filed a Report on this matter pursuant to Rule 9(d) of the Delaware Lawyers' Rules of Disciplinary Procedure. Neither the Office of Disciplinary Counsel nor the Respondent filed objections to the Board's Report. The Court has reviewed the matter pursuant to Rule 9(e) of the Delaware Lawyers' Rules of Disciplinary Procedure and approves the Board's Report.

NOW, THEREFORE, IT IS ORDERED that the Report filed by the Board on Professional Responsibility on May 19, 2014 (copy attached) is hereby APPROVED and ADOPTED.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that:

1. Respondent is hereby suspended from the practice of law in the State of Delaware for a period of one year effective as of the date of this Order.
2. Respondent is prohibited from providing advice to any Delaware clients on matters of Delaware law for a period of one year.
3. Respondent is prohibited from acting pro hac vice on any matter in Delaware for a period of three years.
4. The contents of the Board's report shall be made public.
5. The ODC is directed to file within ten days of the date of this Order the costs of the disciplinary proceedings. Thereafter, Respondent is directed to pay all costs within thirty days.

Enclosed herewith, please find the Board Report and Recommendation of Sanctions in connection with the above-referenced matter. Please do not hesitate to let me know if you require anything further.

Very truly yours,

Darby | Brown-Edwards LLC

Theresa V. Brown-Edwards

Theresa V. Brown-Edwards

CONFIDENTIAL

BOARD REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION OF SANCTIONS

On January 30, 2014, a panel of the Board on Professional Responsibility (the " Board" ) consisting of Theresa V. Brown-Edwards, Esquire, Chair, Susan H. Kirk-Ryan, Esquire and Louise Roselle (the " Panel" ), conducted a hearing (the " Hearing" )[1] on the allegations of misconduct brought by the Office of Disciplinary Counsel (" ODC" ) against Leonard B. Edelstein (" Respondent" ). Patricia Bartley Schwartz, Esquire appeared on behalf of the ODC and Charles Slanina, Esquire appeared on behalf of the Respondent. Pursuant to Rule 9(d) of the Delaware Lawyers' Rules of Disciplinary Procedure, this is the Report, Findings and Recommendation of the Board (the " Report" ), by the assigned Panel regarding the matter. The date for filing of the Report has been extended, by order of the Court, until May 19, 2014.

I. Procedural Background

On December 5, 2013, the ODC filed a Petition (the " Petition" ) for Discipline against Respondent alleging Respondent engaged in the unauthorized practice of law in violation of Rule 5.5(b)(1) and Rule 5.5(b)(2) of the Delaware Lawyers' Rules of Professional Conduct (the " Rules" ).

On December 23, 2013, Respondent filed a Response (the " Response" ) to the Petition in which Respondent admitted the allegations contained in Count I of the Petition, the Rule 5.5(b)(1) violations, but admitted in part and denied in part the allegations contained in Count II of the Petition, the 5.5(b)(2) allegations.

On January 28, 2014, the Panel Chair conducted a pre-trial conference with counsel to the ODC and Respondent.

No pre-trial motions were filed nor were any pre-trial stipulations submitted by the parties.

At the Hearing, during the portion pertaining to the allegations of misconduct, the Panel heard testimony from the single witness offered by the ODC, namely, the Respondent himself. The Respondent did not present any witnesses during its case in chief.

During the sanctions phase of the Hearing, the Panel received into evidence, a singular stapled packet of documents, marked " Respondent's Exhibit 1 for Mitigation Purposes." [2] (Tr. at 44-45) The Panel also heard testimony from three witness offered by Respondent, namely, William L. McLaughlin, Jr., Esquire, Michael I. Silverman, Esquire and the Respondent who took the stand on his own behalf. The ODC did not present any witnesses during the sanctions phase of the hearing.

II. Factual Background

1. Respondent is not a member of the Bar of the Supreme Court of Delaware. (Petition and Answer, ¶ 1 and Tr. at 14)

2. Respondent is an active member of the Bar of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. (Petition and Answer, ¶ 2 and Tr. at 14)

3. Respondent was admitted to the Pennsylvania bar in 1965, began the practice of law in 1968, and has practiced ever since then. (Tr. at 14-15)

4. At all times relevant to the Petition, Respondent was associated with the law firm of Edelstein, Martin & Nelson in its Philadelphia office. (Petition and Answer, ¶ 3 and Tr. at 15)

5. Edelstein, Martin & Nelson also has an office in Wilmington, Delaware. (Petition and Answer, ¶ 4 and Tr. at 15)

6. Respondent has never worked out of the Delaware office of his firm. (Tr. at 15)

7. From February 2006 until March 2013, Respondent represented Delaware residents in over 100 matters arising out of motor vehicle accidents which occurred in Delaware and involved a policy of insurance issued for a vehicle registered in the State of Delaware.[3] (Petition and Answer, ¶ 6 and Tr. at 16-18)

8. Many of Respondent's Delaware clients came to him as a result of a referral from Morris Peterzell, D.O., Wilmington, Delaware. (Petition and Answer, ¶ 8 and Tr. at 17)

9. Respondent met with some of his Delaware clients to discuss his representation at Dr. Peterzell's office. (Petition and Answer, ¶ 9 and Tr. at 17)

10. Some of Respondent's Delaware clients came to him as a result of television advertisements which targeted Delaware residents. (Petition and Answer, ¶ 10 and Tr. at 18-19)

11. Respondent's firm has been running television ads for twenty years. (Tr. at 18)

12. Respondent met with some of his Delaware clients at Edelstein, Martin & Nelson's Wilmington, Delaware office. (Petition and Answer, ¶ 11 and Tr. at 20)

III. Allegations of Misconduct

In light of the pleadings, in which all of the allegations of misconduct in Count I were admitted and the allegations related to Count II were admitted in part and denied in part, ODC and Respondent requested that the Panel address both the allegations of misconduct and sanctions at the Hearing. The Panel consented to this approach. Mindful of the Court's guidance suggesting that the Panel should make its own ...


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