E-mail seeking clients spurs formal complaint, lawyer says
The state Office of Disciplinary Counsel has received a complaint asking the agency to investigate whether a Honolulu attorney has violated the rules of professional conduct by soliciting clients via e-mail.
Attorney David Rosen, who sent an e-mail May 15 to two acquaintances asking them to refer to him anyone seeking to challenge Kamehameha Schools' admission policy, said yesterday that he submitted a letter Tuesday explaining his actions to the office and seeking an opinion. He was advised that the agency had received a complaint.
He was not told who or what entity filed the complaint.
Carole Richelieu, chief disciplinary counsel, said she could not confirm nor deny whether a complaint has been filed against Rosen.
Under Hawaii Supreme Court rules, the ODC can only discuss matters that are public. Under the rules, a matter is public 90 days after formal charges have been served on the attorney, she said.
Generally, the ODC's first step would be to review whether the matter is within its jurisdiction and, if so, assign it to an investigator. Rosen will have an opportunity at some point to respond.
Rosen, who has practiced here for 12 years, said he proactively submitted the letter of explanation to the ODC asking for an expedited decision because he wanted to clear his name. "Any time my ethics are questioned, it affects me," he said.
"I want this cloud lifted so that the merits of what I want to do can be discussed, rather than my role in it," he said.
Rosen sent the e-mail a day after Kamehameha Schools settled a suit filed by a non-Hawaiian who was denied admission.
The Hawaii State Bar Association, which received complaints about Rosen's e-mail but did not submit the complaint to the ODC, discussed the matter yesterday at its regular board meeting.
The board is drafting a statement for review by its members and will decide later whether to make a public statement, said Executive Director Lyn Flanigan.
Rosen said that he does not believe he has done anything wrong and that no attorney has said his e-mail violated the rules of professional conduct.