MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — The state Supreme Court has suspended a Martinsburg attorney’s license to practice law for one year due to “professional transgressions” stemming from complaints filed by former clients and the Office of Disciplinary Counsel.
During his suspension, Michael S. Santa Barbara, 52, is to undergo psychological and/or psychiatric counseling to “deal with depression and alcohol abuse issues until such time that it is determined by the treating psychologist or psychiatrist that treatment is no longer necessary,” the court concluded in a 23-page opinion filed Thursday.
Santa Barbara also must complete eight hours of continuing legal education in office management and office practice within the next 24 months and reimburse the Lawyer Disciplinary Board for costs incurred for the disciplinary proceeding.
The attorney’s suspension and other sanctions were recommended by the hearing panel subcommittee of the disciplinary board, according to the court opinion.
The hearing panel found that Santa Barbara failed to oversee and manage a trust account established for a client dating back to a $50,000 settlement, which stemmed from a “slip-and-fall” case against Wal-Mart.