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Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Public Reprimand No. 2010-2



VANTHAN R. UN

Order (public reprimand) entered by the Board January 29, 2010.

SUMMARY1


The respondent received a public reprimand for his neglect of an immigration matter and divorce case with harm to the client. In August 1997, the client came to the United States as a conditional resident based upon his marriage to a United States citizen. In December 1999, the client and his wife separated.

In October 2002, the client retained the respondent to represent him regarding his immigration status and to pursue a divorce. In November 2002, the respondent filed an I-751 waiver petition to remove condition on residence, asserting the client had entered into the marriage in good faith and been battered or subjected to extreme mental cruelty by his citizen spouse.

In December 2005, the respondent prepared a joint petition for divorce, an affidavit of irretrievable breakdown, and a separation agreement for the client. The client and his wife signed the documents, but the respondent took no further action on behalf of the client in regards to the divorce.

On the immigration matter, the respondent prepared and had executed two affidavits supporting the clientís claims. The respondent also received an evaluation report from a licensed clinical psychologist, opining that the client had married in good faith and subsequently suffered extreme mental and physical cruelty from his wife.

In April 2007, the respondent appeared on behalf of the client at the Immigration Court in Boston seeking a review of the denial of the I-751 petition. The respondent agreed that he would submit to the court a copy of the I-751 petition and the denial by June 18, 2007. The clientís individual hearing date was set for July 30, 2008, from 9 a.m. to noon. Pursuant to Immigration Court rules, the respondent was required to file any exhibits with the court at least fifteen days in advance of the hearing date. The respondent informed the court that he would submit documentation from the psychologist and that he would have the client complete a required biometrics test.

By the July 30 hearing date, the respondent failed to file the copies of the I-751 petition or the written denial of the petition. In addition, the respondent took no action to ensure the client completed the biometrics test. The respondent did not file any proposed exhibits with the court within the required time parameters.

On July 30, 2008, the respondent was over 90 minutes late to the individual hearing. His attempts to submit evidence with the court, including the psychologistís evaluation, were denied due to his failure to meet the deadline for filing. The respondent did not present any evidence or witnesses other than the client at the hearing. On July 30, 2008, the clientís application for waiver was denied and the client was ordered deported.

In January 2009, the clientís successor counsel obtained a divorce for the client, thereby providing an alternative ground for an I-751 waiver. Successor counsel filed a new I-751 waiver petition based on good faith marriage and divorce. He also appealed the deportation order to the Board of Immigration Appeals, in part on the grounds of ineffective assistance of counsel.

The respondentís neglect of his clientís legal matters and his failure to act with reasonable promptness and diligence in completing his undertakings on behalf of the client constituted a lack of competence and diligence, in violation of Mass. R. Prof. C. 1.1 and 1.3.

The respondent was admitted to practice on December 25, 1995, and had received no prior discipline.

The matter came before the Board of Bar Overseers on a stipulation of facts and joint recommendation for a public reprimand. The board accepted the partiesí recommendation, and on January 11, 2010, the Board of Bar Overseers voted to accept the partiesí stipulation and to impose a public reprimand.


1 Compiled by the Board of Bar Overseers based on the record of proceedings before the Board.



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