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Bar News - August 19, 2011

NH Supreme Court Professional Conduct Committee

Hatem, Michael D. advs. Hampshire First Bank # 09-022

The Professional Conduct Committee issued a Public Censure to attorney Michael D. Hatem of Salem, New Hampshire on May 23, 2011.

Mr. Hatem represented Hampshire First Bank in connection with the collection of a delinquent loan. Mr. Hatem filed a Writ of Summons on behalf of the Bank against the defendant, who in turn filed an Answer and Counterclaim. The Defendant propounded Interrogatories to the Bank with a deadline to answer within 30 days. Mr. Hatem was aware of the deadline of October 13, 2008 and so notified the Bank. After the deadline passed, Mr. Hatem was contacted by Defendantís counsel on at least two occasions seeking answers to interrogatories. On January 9, 2009, the Defendantís counsel filed a Motion for Conditional Default. The Court sent a Notice of Conditional Default on January 20, 2009. Mr. Hatem did not inform the Bank of the Conditional Default.

On January 22, 2009, Mr. Hatemís assistant sent the Defendantís counsel a letter enclosing the answers to the interrogatories. Mr. Hatem sent a letter to the Bank with a copy of the answers to the interrogatories and an original signature page. Mr. Hatem made no mention of the conditional default, a time limit for the return of the signature page, or a deadline to file a Motion to Strike Conditional Default.

Mr. Hatem never filed a Motion to Strike Conditional Default nor did he provide Defendantís counsel with an executed signature page. The Bank subsequently retained other counsel to review the file at the Court and learned from successor counsel that the case had been conditionally defaulted. The Bankís new counsel was successful in having the conditional default stricken.

It is undisputed that Mr. Hatem did not take reasonable action to prevent the conditional default, did not take action to strike the conditional default and did not notify the Bank of the conditional default.

Mr. Hatem violated N.H. Rule Prof. Conduct 1.3: Diligence, by clear and convincing evidence, by breaching his duty to deliver the Bankís answers to interrogatories to Defendantís counsel for over four months; allowing the case to be conditionally defaulted without the Bankís knowledge, and failure to take prompt remedial action to remedy the default. Mr. Hatem also necessarily violated N.H. Rule Prof. Conduct 8.4(a): Misconduct, by clear and convincing evidence.

Mr. Hatem is assessed all costs associated with the investigation and prosecution of this matter. A full copy of this order is available at and the file is available for public inspection at 4 Chenell Drive, Suite 102, Concord, NH 03301.

July 18, 2011

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