JULY 27, 1998




The Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Court reciprocally imposes the identical discipline on the respondent as that imposed by the Connecticut Superior  Court, suspending the respondent from the practice of law for a period of nine months for his failure to keep his client informed that he intended to settle her claim on her behalf, or as to the amount of settlement offer, prior to settling the claim.




Shibles, C.J.


This matter came for hearing on July 15, 1998 pursuant to this Court's Notice of Intent to Impose Reciprocal Discipline ("Notice")(dated April 9, 1998).  The Notice directed the Respondent, Samuel E. Dixon, Jr., a duly admitted member of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Bar, to inform the Court, in writing, within thirty (30) days from the service of the Notice of any claim that the imposition of discipline by this Court identical to that imposed by the State of Connecticut on July 29, 1997 would be unwarranted and the reasons therefore.  The Respondent did not file any written response.


Appearing at the July 15th hearing were Special Tribal Bar Counsel Garon Camassar, Esq. and the Respondent, pro se.  Evidence presented at the hearing consisted of the Special Tribal Bar Counsel's Report dated November 13, 1997, the Stipulation of Facts and Disposition dated July 10, 1997, ("Stipulation") and Order dated July 29, 1997, in the matter of Statewide Grievance Committee v. Samuel E. Dixon, Jr., CV-00398826 (Conn. Super. Ct. July 29, 1997).  It is this Connecticut Superior Court order which provides the basis for the present proceedings.


The Stipulation recites that the Respondent has been the subject of the following prior professional discipline by the Connecticut Statewide Grievance Committee:


(a)   On October 19, 1995, the Respondent was reprimanded by the Statewide Grievance Committee in the matter of Chambers v. Dixon, Grievance Complaint #94-0634, for failing to provide his client with a written fee agreement within a reasonable amount of time, in violation of Rule 1.5(b) of the Rules of Professional Conduct, and for failing to communicate to his client his intention to withdraw from a matter, in violation of Rules 1.4 and 1.16(d) of the Rules of Professional Conduct.


(b)   On April 18, 1996, the Respondent was reprimanded by the Statewide Grievance Committee in the matter of D'Andrea v. Dixon, Grievance Complaint #94-0888, for failing to notify a treating doctor of his receipt of settlement proceeds, and failing to disburse the proceeds due the treating doctor, after issuing a letter of protection, in violation of Rules 1.15(b) of the Rules of Professional Conduct.


Stipulation, p. 1-2.


The latest discipline imposed by the Statewide Grievance Committee arose from the Respondent's representation of Heather L. Garry ("Garry") regarding personal injuries she suffered as a result of an automobile accident.  Id. at 2.  The Respondent was retained by Garry on or about November 21, 1992.  Id.  In or around May of 1994, the Respondent settled Garry's claim with the uninsured motorist insurance carrier in the accident and the insurance company issued a check to the Respondent in the amount of thirteen thousand five hundred dollars ($13,500.00) which the Respondent deposited into a non-interest bearing clients' fund account.  Id.  The Respondent failed to communicate to Garry that he intended to settle her claim on her behalf or the amount of the settlement offer, prior to settling her claim.  Id.


On August 5, 1994, the Respondent presented to the insurance company a general release purporting to have been signed by Garry and witnessed by James J. Patterson ("Patterson") in consideration of the sum of thirteen thousand five hundred dollars ($13,500.00).  Id.  In reality, the release was not signed by Garry until November 21, 1992, outside the presence of Patterson, and without any agreement by Garry as to the amount of the settlement.  Id. at 2-3.  The Respondent did not promptly pay Garry the funds due her from the settlement of her claim and deposited her net proceeds in an non-interest bearing account.  Id. at 3.


The Stipulation recites that "[t]he Respondent acknowledges that the hereinbefore described conduct constituted violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct."   Id.  Subject to the Court's approval, the Respondent stipulated that the disposition of the disciplinary complaint would include a suspension from the practice of law for period of nine months, commencing July 30, 1997, and ending April 30, 1998.  Id.  The Stipulation was signed on the Respondent's behalf by his legal counsel, Attorney Christopher L. Brigham.  Id. at 4.


On July 29, 1997, Connecticut Superior Court Judge Trial Referee Donald W. Cilotto entered an order suspending the Respondent from the practice of law for a period of nine months, commencing on July 30, 1997 and ending on April 30, 1998, and appointing Attorney Louis Parley to inventory the Respondent's files and to take necessary actions to protect the interests of Respondent's clients.[1]

Rule 29(c) of the Mashantucket Pequot Rules of Legal Counsel Conduct ("M.P.L.C.") provides that the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Court may reciprocally impose the identical discipline to that imposed in another jurisdiction unless the respondent legal counsel establishes, or the Court concludes that:


(1)   the procedure in the other jurisdiction did not provide reasonable notice or opportunity to be heard;


(2)     there was significant infirmity of proof establishing the misconduct;


(3)     the imposition of the same discipline would result in grave injustice; or


(4)     the misconduct established does not justify discipline under these rules.

Id.  The Respondent does not claim that he was denied reasonable notice or the opportunity to be heard by the State of Connecticut, nor does he assert that the misconduct for which he was sanctioned does not justify discipline under the Mashantucket Pequot Rules of Legal Counsel Conduct. Rules 29(c)(2) and (3) of the M.P.L.C. require legal counsel to keep a client reasonably informed about the status of a matter and to abide by a client's decision whether to accept an offer of settlement of a matter.  Rather, the Respondent focuses his arguments on M.P.L.C. 29(c)(2) and (3).


First, he asserts that the grievances leading to his suspension were based on perjured statements.  He admits, however, that he did on the advice of legal counsel, enter into the Stipulation.  The Court finds, therefore, that the Respondent waived any right he had to challenge the infirmity of the proof establishing the misconduct when he voluntarily agreed to the Stipulation and Disposition.


Second, the Respondent argues that his discipline by the State of Connecticut should remain "localized" and that to impose reciprocal discipline would impose an injustice.  He asserts that he has not been subject to discipline in the other jurisdictions where he is licensed to practice, namely, the State of New York, the District of Columbia and Mashantucket.  He urges the Court to focus on his good behavior within these other jurisdictions and to decline to impose reciprocal discipline.


The respondent misses the point.  Ethical conduct conforming to the applicable rules of professional conduct within each and every jurisdiction an attorney is admitted to practice is the expected norm, not the exception.  In the matter at bar, the Respondent has been found to have committed serious violations of the Connecticut Rules of Professional Conduct.  His practice before this Court has only consisted of two cases. In one case, his client has retained new counsel who has been litigating the case for many months without Respondent's involvement.  The other case is dormant in the Tribal Court and the companion case to it in the Connecticut Superior Court is being handled by new counsel due the Respondent's suspension.  Therefore, the Court finds that the imposition of the same discipline as that imposed by the State of Connecticut would not prejudice any of Respondent's clients and would not constitute an injustice.


For the foregoing reasons, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that pursuant to Rule 29(c) M.P.L.C. that the Respondent, Samuel E. Dixon, Jr., is suspended from the practice of law before the courts of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe for a period of nine months, which is deemed to have commenced on January 1, 1998 and ending on October 1, 1998.[2]  IT IS FURTHER ORDERED, in accordance with Rule 28(i) M.P.L.C., that a certified copy of this Memorandum of Decison Re:  Reciprocal Discipline shall be transmitted to each jurisdiction wherein the Respondent is admitted to practice and shall be published in the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Court Reports.


Samuel E. Dixon, Respondent

Garon Camassar, Special Tribal Bar Counsel

    [1]Currently pending before the Connecticut Statewide Grievance Committee is yet another complaint against the Respondent stemming from his representation of Angelo Joyner in a criminal matter.  It was alleged that the Respondent had a conflict of interest in that the Respondent had misappropriated funds of the estate of Angelo Joyner's father (of which Joyner was a beneficiary) and in an effort to conceal the misappropriation forced his representation on Joyner in the criminal case.  In its Memorandum of Decision dated September 19, 1997, in Angelo Joyner v. Warden, State Prison (Case number CV93-1706) the Connecticut Superior Court found that:


The evidence in this case makes it abundantly clear that Dixon stole the Petitioner's [Joyner's] inheritance, and in order to keep the money, subsequently forced the Petitioner to retain him for the criminal case; that Dixon's own pecuniary interest in the Estate funds that belonged to Petitioner was contrary to Petitioner's interest; that Dixon thereby drove a wedge between himself and the Petitioner and destroyed the attorney client relationship; that Dixon had no loyalty to his client and placed his own interest ahead of those of his client.  Placing his own financial interest ahead of the interest of his client is the very heart of the conflict of interest . . . Once the practice becomes to him (the lawyer) a 'mere brawl for life', or a system of regularized plunder where craft and not conscience is not the rule, and where falsehood and not faith is the reason by which to gain his ends, then he has forfeited all right to be an officer of any Court of justice or to be numbered among the members of an honorable profession.


Due to the pendency of the State of Connecticut disciplinary action regarding this matter, this Court will stay consideration of the impact of these latest allegations of misconduct until such time as the Statewide Grievance Committee renders a decision.

    [2]The Special Tribal Bar Counsel's Report was filed on November 20, 1997.  The delay between the filing of the Report and the hearing was occasioned by the Court's request of Special Tribal Bar Counsel to procure a certified copy of the Connecticut Superior Court order which he was unable to do.  Therefore, the period of suspension shall commence from the time the hearing first could have been held by this Court.



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