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In re A Member of Bar of Supreme Court of State

Supreme Court of Delaware

June 29, 2018

IN THE MATTER OF A MEMBER OF THE BAR OF THE SUPREME COURT OF THE STATE OF DELAWARE: ERIK C. GRANDELL

          Submitted: June 18, 2018

          Before STRINE, Chief Justice; SEITZ and TRAYNOR, Justices.

          ORDER

          GARY F. TRAYNOR JUSTICE.

         This 29th day of June 2018, it appears to the Court that:

         (1) This is a lawyer disciplinary proceeding. On May 29, 2018, the Board on Professional Responsibility filed its Report and Recommendation ("Board's Report") with this Court, recommending that the respondent, Erik C. Grandell, Equire, be publicly reprimanded and placed on a period of probation for two years, with the imposition of specific conditions. A copy of the Board's Report is attached to this order. Neither the Office of Disciplinary Counsel nor Grandell has filed any objections to the Board's Report.

         (2) The Court has considered the matter carefully. We find the Board's recommendation of a public reprimand with a two-year period of probation with conditions to be appropriate. Thus, we accept the Board's findings and recommendation for discipline and incorporate the Board's findings and recommendation by reference.

         NOW, THEREFORE, IT IS ORDERED that the Board's Report is hereby ACCEPTED. The Office of Disciplinary Counsel shall disseminate this Order in accordance with Rule 14 of the Delaware Lawyers' Rules of Disciplinary Procedure.

         BOARD ON PROFESSIONAL RESPONSIBILITY OF THE SUPREME COURT OF DELAWARE

         Re: Matter of a Member of the Bar of the Supreme Court of The State of Delaware

         ERIK C. GRANDELL, Respondent

         Board Case No. 113458-B

         BOARD REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

         This is the report of The Board on Professional Responsibility of the Supreme Court of the State of Delaware (the "Board") setting forth its findings and recommendations in the above-captioned matter.

         The members of the panel of the Board (the "Panel") are Gary W. Ferguson, Jessica Zeldin, Esquire and Patricia O. Vella, Esquire (the "Chair")- The Office of Disciplinary Counsel (the "ODC") was represented by Jennifer-Kate Aaronson, Esquire. The Respondent, Erik C. Grandell, Esquire appeared pro se.

         A hearing was held on December 14, 2017. After receiving the transcript, the parties filed post-hearing memoranda. Respondent filed his opening brief on February 8, 2018, ODC filed its answering memorandum on liability and sanctions on February 21, 2018, and Respondent filed his reply on March 19, 2018.

         I. PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         The ODC filed a Petition for Discipline on November 1, 2017 (the "Petition"). In the Petition, the ODC alleged a violation of Rule 7(c) ("Rule 7(c)") of the Delaware Lawyers' Rules of Disciplinary Procedure (the "Procedural Rules") and Rule 8.4(d) ("Rule 8.4(d)") of the

         Delaware Lawyers' Rules of Professional Conduct (the "Rules"). Rule 7(c) provides that it "shall be grounds for disciplinary action for a lawyer to... [v]iolate the terms of any conditional diversion or private or public disciplinary or disability disposition." Rule 8.4(d) provides that it is "professional misconduct for a lawyer to... engage in conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice." On November 28, 2017, Respondent filed his answer to the Petition denying the allegations in the Petition.

         II. FINDINGS OF FACT

         Respondent was admitted to the Delaware Bar in 1989. (Tr. at 73). On October 14, 2013, ODC filed a Petition for Interim Suspension in the Delaware Supreme Court seeking Respondent's suspension from the practice of law pending resolution of multiple disciplinary cases. (ODC Ex. 2; Tr. at 75-78).[1] In response, Respondent filed a Motion to Transfer to Disability Inactive Status alleging he was incapable of defending the disciplinary proceedings. (Tr. at 75-78). Respondent's Motion was granted by the Delaware Supreme Court.

         Following treatment with a mental health provider, Respondent notified ODC of his intent to petition the Court for transfer to active status. (Tr. at 84-86). Respondent discussed with ODC the conditions ODC would recommend if the Court granted Respondent's transfer back to active practice, including: Respondent shall meet on a monthly basis with a mutually agreed upon practice monitor who will closely review Respondent's legal work and cases and provide quarterly reports to ODC of the Respondent's compliance with the conditions of reinstatement. (Tr. at 87-88). Respondent acknowledged he had the opportunity to ask any questions to clarify the proposed conditions. (Tr. at 91-92). Thereafter, Respondent filed his Petition to Transfer to Active Status and Stipulation of Conditions with the Court. (ODC Ex. 3).

         On December 10, 2014, the Court entered an Order transferring Respondent to active practice subject to the following conditions:

1. Respondent was prohibited from engaging in the solo practice of law;
2. Respondent was prohibited from acting as managing partner in charge of books and records of a firm;
3. Respondent shall notify any employer of these conditions;
4. Respondent shall remain in active treatment with a licensed mental health treatment provider;
5. Respondent shall execute a formal monitoring agreement with DE-LAP and comply with all conditions deemed appropriate by DE-LAP;
6. Respondent shall meet on a monthly basis with a mutually agreed upon practice monitor who would closely review Respondent's legal work and cases and the practice monitor would provide quarterly reports to ODC regarding Respondent's compliance with the conditions of reinstatement; and
7. Respondent shall report to ODC any violations of the conditions of his transfer to active status.

(Jt. Ex. 1).

         Thereafter, ODC proceeded with its prosecution of the underlying disciplinary cases that were pending when Respondent transferred to disability inactive status. Respondent proceeded pro se. (Tr. at 92-93). Prior to ODC's presentation of Respondent's five pending cases to the Preliminary Review Committee ("PRC"), Respondent knew ODC would recommend a private admonition to the PRC with conditions and probation. (Tr. at 93-94). On June 26, 2015, Respondent accepted the private admonition with a two-year ...


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