By Lawrence Smith
CHARLESTON, W. Va. (West Virginia Record) - The West Virginia state Supreme Court has followed with officials in the Lone Star State in placing the career of a Texas attorney now living in West Virginia on hiatus.
The Court on May 25 voted 4-1 to accept the recommendation of its Lawyer Disciplinary Board to suspend Scott M. Dolin's license for the next three years. The discipline imposed by the state high court is similar to punishment given to Dolin by the Texas State Bar for failing to appear at a client's 2006 criminal trial.
Chief Justice Menis E. Ketchum cast the dissenting vote, but only to impose a harsher punishment against Dolin.
No-show nets suspension
According to court records, Dolin, then a sole practitioner in Austin, was hired by Marilyn Lockhart on Oct. 26, 2006 to represent her husband, Bobby, on a charge of felony assault. The details of the charges are not provided.
Despite receiving $2,000 to defend Lockhart, Dolin failed to appear at his Nov. 22 trial. Though he later apologized to Mrs. Lockhart and offered her a refund, none was forthcoming.
A year later, Lockhart filed a complaint with the Texas Bar's Commission for Lawyer Discipline, which on Nov. 28, 2007 asked Dolin to provide a response to her complaint within 30 days. When he failed to due so, the Commission filed a motion for default judgment against him charging Dolin with five violations of the Rules of Professional Conduct.
As punishment, the Commission on June 1, 2009, gave Dolin a partially probated suspension for 36 months. According to its order, provided Dolin would "timely" comply with the suspension's terms and conditions, which included restitution to Lockhart her $2,000 and to the Bar $3,157 the expenses it incurred to investigate, and prosecute her compliant, by May 30, 2010, he would serve the first 12 months under a full suspension, and the remaining two years on a conditional suspension.
Under the conditional suspension, Dolin could again practice law, but be again be suspended if he engaged in any other acts of misconduct, violated any state or federal laws and failed to comply with requests for information from the Commission's chief disciplinary counsel.
According to the Bar, sometime during the term of his active suspension, Dolin signed bond information that he was counsel of record for two criminal defendants. Because he violated the terms of his suspension, and practiced law without a license, the Bar on Dec. 15, 2011 again placed him on active suspension until Oct. 31, 2012.
According to the Texas Bar, the disciplinary action was the first taken against Dolin, 37, since being admitted on May 2001 after graduating the University of Texas' School of Law the year before. Records show Dolin was later admitted to the West Virginia Bar on March 30, 2004, and, until his reciprocal suspension, practiced out of his home on 16th Street Road outside Huntington.
West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals case number 11-0510