The Pennsylvania Supreme Court on Thursday suspended the law license of an attorney in York for two years after the disciplinary board found that he had engaged in professional misconduct in five separate cases.
Clarence Allen, 69, demonstrated an “egregious pattern of neglect and incompetence, which often times prejudiced the administration of justice,” according to a 37-page report. He received an informal admonition for “nearly identical misconduct” in 2019.
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“The goals of the attorney disciplinary system include protecting the public from unfit attorneys, maintain the integrity of the bar, and upholding respect for the legal system,” wrote Tioga County District Judge Robert Repard, a member of the Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, in the report.
“Upon this record, we conclude that Respondent’s multiple breaches of his obligations to his clients coupled with his prior disciplinary history, his lack of remorse, and his failure to accept responsibility demonstrate that he is unfit to practice law and is a threat to the public,” he added.
Allen said he had not yet seen the order. He said the disciplinary board did not speak with four of the five clients.
“No one talked to the clients, and the clients never complained about my representation,” Allen said.
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In one case, Allen failed to show up to a pretrial conference for a client who had intellectual and developmental disabilities. The man was facing charges of aggravated assault and strangulation, according to court documents.
Because he believed that he was going to jail, court documents state, the man became anxious, fearful and agitated.
Allen then failed to appear at a hearing that a judge set for him to explain his absence, court documents state.
Later, Allen reported that he had not received notice of that hearing. He also stated that he did not show up for the pretrial conference because he’d filed an application on behalf of his client for wellness court, according to court documents.
But Allen did not file that application until 11 days after the pretrial conference, court documents state, so his explanation was “false and misleading.”
York County Common Pleas Judge Craig T. Trebilcock found Allen in direct criminal contempt and fined him $1,500. He has not paid anything.
Trebilcock filed a disciplinary complaint against Allen “due to his pattern of failing to appear for hearings and other proceedings,” according to court documents.
Also of interest:Dad pleads no contest to severely abusing 5 children in West York ‘house of horrors’
During the disciplinary proceedings, Allen testified that he “just wanted to get this over with” and stated that he’d “had enough.”
“If you suspend my license, fine. If I go to jail, fine. I’ve had enough,” Allen testified. “It’s 33 years and I’m just tired. I have no more fight left in me.”
Allen has represented clients including Charles Benjamin, who pleaded no contest in 2021 to abusing and neglecting five of his young children in a home in West York that police described as a “house of horrors.”
Dylan Segelbaum is the courthouse reporter at the York Daily Record, part of the USA TODAY NETWORK. Contact him at [email protected], by phone at 717-916-3981 or on Twitter @dylan_segelbaum.