Submitted February 2, 2017
Suspended Member of the Bar N of the
District of Columbia Court of Appeals (Bar Registration No.
Report and Recommendation of the Board on Professional
Barbara Juanita Hargrove, pro se.
Wallace E. Shipp, Jr., Disciplinary Counsel, Jennifer P.
Lyman, Senior Assistant Disciplinary Counsel, and Hamilton P.
Fox, III, Assistant Disciplinary Counsel, for the Office of
Beckwith and McLeese, Associate Judges, and Pryor, Senior
Juanita Hargrove challenges the Report and Recommendation of
the Board on Professional Responsibility, in which the Board
determined that Ms. Hargrove violated the following Rules of
Professional Conduct: Rule 1.1 (a) (failure to provide
competent representation); Rule 1.1 (b) (failure to serve the
client with commensurate skill and care); Rule 1.3 (c)
(failure to act with reasonable promptness); Rule 1.16 (d)
(failure to surrender papers and property after termination
of representation); and Rule 8.4 (d) (engaging in conduct
that seriously interferes with the administration of
justice). The Board recommended that Ms. Hargrove be
suspended from the practice of law for sixty days, with a
requirement to prove fitness to practice as a condition of
her reinstatement. We conclude that Ms. Hargrove forfeited
her ability to challenge the Board's Report and
Recommendation in this court. We accept the Board's
findings of fact as supported by substantial evidence and
adopt the Board's recommended sanction.
Hargrove was appointed as personal representative of Emma O.
Johnson's estate in 1996. During her time as personal
representative, Ms. Hargrove failed to record and collect a
judgment on behalf of the heirs, took multiple actions
purporting to exercise ownership rights over Ms.
Johnson's property when she did not have the legal
authority to do so, failed to have the deed to the property
transferred from the heirs' guardian to the Estate so
that the property could be sold, and allowed the Estate's
bank accounts to escheat to the state. Ms. Hargrove was
removed as personal representative in 2009. After her
removal, Ms. Hargrove refused to give the Estate's file
to the successor personal representative for over a year. As
of February 2016, Ms. Hargrove had yet to pay a $6, 480.84
judgment and an $18, 300 award of attorney's fees to the
Estate pursuant to court orders from December 2012 and
three-page brief in this court, Ms. Hargrove contends that
(1) the Board inappropriately entered a default judgment
against her under D.C. Bar R. XI, § 8 (f), because
Disciplinary Counsel did not provide clear and convincing
evidence that she violated the Rules of Professional Conduct
listed in the specification of charges; (2) she did not
violate the Rules of Professional Conduct; and (3) there were
procedural errors during the disciplinary process.
Disciplinary Counsel responds that Ms. Hargrove is precluded
from raising these contentions in this court and that in any
event the contentions lack merit.
agree with Disciplinary Counsel that Ms. Hargrove's
contentions have been forfeited. Ms. Hargrove had numerous
opportunities to challenge the allegations against her and to
object to any procedural errors, but she failed to properly
do so. First, Ms. Hargrove did not timely file an answer to
the specification of charges. After missing earlier
deadlines, Ms. Hargrove belatedly moved to late-file two
answers, citing only the "press of business" as a
reason for her tardiness. Pursuant to D.C. Bar Rule XI,
§ 8 (f), the Hearing Committee entered an order of
default, concluding that Ms. Hargrove had not demonstrated
that her failure to timely file an answer was due to
excusable neglect. The Hearing Committee therefore treated
the allegations against Ms. Hargrove as admitted, subject to
Disciplinary Counsel's obligation to provide clear and
convincing evidence of the violations. Second, Ms. Hargrove
did not appear either at a pre-hearing conference or at the
hearing before the Hearing Committee. Third, after the
Hearing Committee issued its Report and Recommendation, Ms.
Hargrove had the opportunity to move to vacate the order of
default, Board R. 7.8 (g), or to file notice of exceptions to
the Hearing Committee's findings and recommendations,
Board R. 13.3. She did neither. Ms. Hargrove thus
"failed to avail [herself] of the opportunity to make
[her] arguments to the Board in the first instance."
In re Green, 136 A.3d 699, 699-70 (D.C. 2016) (per
curiam). Finally, Ms. Hargrove has not presented any argument
to this court as to why she should be allowed to challenge
the Board's findings and recommendation despite her
failure to raise her contentions before the Board, and Ms.
Hargrove's brief in this court contains only conclusory
statements denying the charges against her.
have consistently held that an attorney who fails to present
a point to the Board waives that point and cannot be heard to
raise it for the first time here." In re Green,
136 A.3d at 700 (internal quotation marks omitted). We see no
extraordinary circumstance that might justify considering Ms.
Hargrove's forfeited contentions. We therefore accept the
Board's factual findings as supported by substantial
evidence. See D.C. Bar R. XI, § 9 (h)(1)
("[T]he Court shall accept the findings of fact made by
the Board unless they are unsupported by substantial evidence
of record . . . ."). Given Ms. Hargrove's misconduct
in her representation of the Estate and her failure to
meaningfully participate in these disciplinary proceedings,
we also adopt the Board's recommended sanction. See
id. ("[T]he Court . . . shall adopt the recommended
disposition of the Board unless to do so would foster a
tendency toward inconsistent dispositions for comparable
conduct or would otherwise be unwarranted.").
foregoing reasons, Barbara Juanita Hargrove is suspended from
the practice of law in the District of Columbia for sixty
days, with reinstatement conditioned on proof of fitness to
practice law. For the purposes of reinstatement, the period
of suspension will begin to run when Ms. Hargrove has filed
an affidavit demonstrating full compliance with D.C. Bar R.
XI, § 14 (g).