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Troubled Winchester lawyer gives up license

Peter Vieth//March 24, 2018

Troubled Winchester lawyer gives up license

Peter Vieth//March 24, 2018//

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A Winchester lawyer who battled the Virginia State Bar on multiple fronts amid complaints from clients and judges has surrendered her license.

Shelley R. Collette consented to license revocation March 23 in a proceeding involving five bar complaints, with nine additional complaints set for hearings in April and August.

Collette already had accepted an impairment suspension Sept. 14. On March 16, The VSB disciplinary board ordered an additional suspension of a year and a day based on a larceny conviction. That suspension was subsumed by the revocation imposed March 23.

The March 16 proceedings produced a ruling that a deferred disposition on a felony plea did not foreclose a VSB show cause proceeding.

In December, Collette had agreed to plead guilty to a felony larceny charge for taking three checks from her boyfriend’s business. A judge determined the facts would sustain a finding of guilt. The judge then deferred the larceny case for two years. The plea deal called for the conviction to be reduced to a misdemeanor if Collette complied with terms during the two years.

Collette argued the VSB disciplinary board had no authority to suspend her license or issue a rule to show cause because she had not yet been convicted of a felony. Interpreting bar rules, however, the disciplinary board ruled the guilty plea and the court’s finding of sufficient facts supported the show cause action.

Collette’s March 23 revocation was based on failure to provide legal services as agreed for three clients. In one case, Collette’s failure to arrange a guardianship for a disabled teen complicated efforts to obtain Social Security benefits when the youth turned 18, according to an agreed statement of facts. The bar also cited a series of missed court appearances. Two judges told a bar investigator Collette had failed to appear or been late to court on “many occasions.”

After the December hearing on criminal and traffic charges, Collette told The Winchester Star her problems stemmed from attention deficit disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Collette appeared pro se in the show cause and revocation proceedings. William H. Atwill Jr. acted as an appointed guardian ad litem. The VSB was represented by Deputy Bar Counsel Kathryn R. Montgomery.

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