Suspended lawyer loses case

Attorneys should really consider getting a legal call center to provide better and higher quality services including customer service.


When Bonnie Grace Kennedy hired an attorney in late August 2014, she had no way of knowing that 21 months later she would be sitting — alone — at plaintiff’s counsel table in Courtroom Eight of the Chester County Justice Center representing herself before a Common Pleas Court judge.

“Take a deep breath,” Judge Jeffrey Sommer advised her in a calm voice. “Try to be comfortable.”

“I don’t think that any of this is comfortable,” Kennedy told the judge at the hearing last Friday.

Kennedy, 45, of South Coventry, was in court to attempt to recover funds she had paid to attorney Joshua Janis in 2014 to handle a custody dispute with her ex-husband concerning her two children. Despite agreeing to handle her case for $5,000 and accepting $2,500 in cash that Kennedy had withdrawn from her IRA to pay him, Janis did little, if any, work on her behalf, according to her and court records. She is still waiting for the custody dispute to be resolved.

Instead, he told her repeatedly that various hearings were scheduled in her case before Family Court masters, only to later tell her that they had been postponed, or that she had the wrong date.

In an order issued in December by the Pennsylvania Disciplinary Board, the agency which oversees attorneys and their ethical conduct in the state, the board wrote that what Janis had told her was false, and that he knew it was false because he had never filed anything in court on her behalf until she had already begun proceedings against him.

At the conclusion of the brief hearing on her suit to get Janis to return the money she had paid to retain him, Sommer granted Kennedy $2,500 plus 7 per cent annual interest, for a total of $2,675, plus court costs. (Kennedy had initially requested that the interest, which Janis had agreed to pay in a mediation through the county Bar Association, be compounded daily, for a total of $66,000. Sommer denied that.)

Janis did not appear at the hearing, scheduled for an arbitration panel for Friday. At the last minute on Thursday he had asked that the case, first scheduled earlier this year, be continued. That request was denied by Judge Edward Griffith. Janis could not be reached for comment.

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