Attorney Neglected Immigrant’s BIA Appeal

Connecticut Law Tribune
March 22, 2004

Vol. 10; No. 10; Pg. 372

Attorney NeglectedImmigrant’s BIA Appeal
Keshishyan v. Burrier;

CASE-INFO: 8 pages. Statewide Grievance Committee [Doc. No. 02-0037]

In May 2001, Bardukh Keshishyan, the complainant, hired Attorney
Walter Burrier to represent him in the appeal of a decision by the
Board of Immigration Appeals, which denied his application for
political asylum from Armenia. Keshishyan claimed he faced
persecution and death if forced to return. Burrier accepted a $135
retainer, but didn’t file the appeal on his client’s behalf. When
Keshishyan discovered, one year later, in May 2002, that there wasn’t
a pending appeal with the BIA, he spoke with Burrier, who admitted
that he forgot about Keshishyan’s case. After reviewing the file,
Burrier told Keshishyan that the deadline for filing the appeal had
expired and refunded the retainer. In a written response to the
Statewide Grievance Committee complaint, Burrier attributed the error
to his heavy workload and to a mistake by his office employee. The
SGC found, by clear and convincing evidence, that Burrier didn’t
provide competent representation, in violation of Rule 1.1. Although
Burrier blamed his office employee, keeping track of the appeal was
his responsibility, especially in this instance, where he had only
three weeks from the first meeting with Keshishyan to file a timely
appeal. Burrier admitted that he forgot about Keshishyan’s case. It
was essential for him to act with diligence and promptness. His
failure to do so violated Rule 1.3. Burrier previously was
reprimanded three times, and the SGC ordered that he be presented to
the Superior Court for discipline.