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Mississippi Bar v. Shah

August 27, 1998

THE MISSISSIPPI BAR
v.
AZKI SHAH



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Mills, Justice

COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: COMPLAINT TRIBUNAL

NATURE OF THE CASE: CIVIL - BAR MATTERS

DISPOSITION: AZKI SHAH IS SUSPENDED FROM THE PRACTICE OF LAW IN THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI FOR A PERIOD OF SIX MONTHS FROM THE DATE OF THIS OPINION; HE SHALL ONLY BE REINSTATED UPON PETITION UNDER RULE 12 OF THE RULES OF DISCIPLINE OF THE MISSISSIPPI BAR; AND PRIOR TO HIS REINSTATEMENT HE SHALL TAKE THE MULTI-STATE PROFESSIONAL RESPONSIBILITY EXAM AND ACHIEVE A SCORE AS PROVIDED FOR IN RULE 12.5. - 7/29/1999

EN BANC.

¶1. Clarksdale attorney, Azki Shah, a member of the Mississippi Bar, is accused of unprofessional and unethical conduct evincing unfitness for the practice of law which constitutes legal grounds for the imposition of discipline. The Mississippi Bar brings before this Court a formal complaint filed pursuant to Rule 13 of the Rules of Discipline, providing for an action based on reciprocal discipline in the case of disciplinary action imposed in another jurisdiction. The Bar has submitted with its complaint copies of the August 27, 1998, Consent Order and Injunction from the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Mississippi in the matter styled In re: Elsie Miller, No. 97-46038. Shah had previously been sanctioned by that bankruptcy court for similar conduct on March 17, 1998 in the case of In re: Linda Upshaw Neloms, No. 97-42550.

¶2. Shah's client, Ms. Miller, paid $400 prepetition for filing fees and attorney's fees in trust to Shah, but on December 1, 1997, Shah signed a disclosure statement which indicated he had received no compensation. The transfer from Ms. Miller was in direct violation of an order permitting the bankruptcy fee to be paid in installment payments. Shah petitioned the court for this order. Additionally, the proposed Chapter 13 plan Shah filed in bankruptcy court would have allowed him to receive more compensation than he reported to the court. While Shah did not admit wrongdoing, the parties entered an agreement as to sanctions and requested court approval. The following injunction was ordered:

IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that the above specified agreement is hereby approved by this court. Azki Shah is hereby enjoined effective October 1, 1998:

1. from the practice of law before any bankruptcy court in the United States;

2. from representing or giving legal advice to any entity concerning the bankruptcy laws of the United States; and

3. from any and all acts that could constitute the practice of law on a bankruptcy issue.

However, this injunction shall not apply to Azki Shah's representation of himself and shall not apply to any case filed by Azki Shah prior to October 1, 1998. In addition, and as a condition of this injunction being terminated, Azki Shah shall pay to the debtor, Elsie Miller, no later than October 1, 1998, the sum of $360.00 as disgorgement of the attorney's fee paid by the debtor in this case, and waives any claim for any money from this estate. Furthermore, and as a condition of this injunction being terminated, Azki Shah shall pay the sum of $500.00 to the clerk of court in five (5) monthly installments of one hundred dollars ($100.00) a month commencing no later than the first (1st) day of October, 1998, and continuing no later than the first (1st) day of each succeeding month thereafter for a period of five (5) months until paid in full.

Additionally, and prior to this injunction being terminated, Azki Shah shall also complete 12 hours of continuing legal education in bankruptcy law that has been approved by The Mississippi Bar that is in addition to the 12 hours of continuing legal education in bankruptcy law required to be completed between July 1, 1998 and July 1, 1999 in the Neloms case.

This injunction shall continue in full force and effect to September 30, 2000 . . . .

ΒΆ3. Rule 13 provides that when a sanction is imposed by another jurisdiction, the findings of that jurisdiction are conclusive evidence of guilt, and the sole issue for this Court to determine is the extent of final discipline to be imposed on the attorney in this jurisdiction. We are not to conduct any further fact finding. The Bar has expressed no view as to the discipline to be imposed against Shah. We are free to impose sanctions either greater or lesser than those imposed by the bankruptcy court. Mississippi Bar v. Gardner, 730 So. 2d 546 (Miss. 1998)(citing Mississippi Bar v. Pels, 708 So. 2d 1372 (Miss.1998); ...


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