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People v. Matthew Kent Barringer
In May 2019, Matthew Barringer agreed to prepare an I-589 asylum application for a client and the client’s son. Barringer charged a flat fee of $4,000 for the work. The fee agreement provided Barringer would earn the $1,500 deposit by preparing his client’s file and that he would earn the remainder of the fee after appearing at any required hearings in the case. Barringer’s client paid the fee in installments between May and October 2019. Barringer failed to hold his client’s money in his trust account until the money was earned.
The application Barringer prepared for his client was deficiently prepared and didn’t establish the essential eligibility requirements for asylum. Though Barringer’s client told him she experienced specific and articulable harm in her country of origin, Barringer didn’t include that information in the application. The application also incorrectly stated it wasn’t filed within a year of the date his client entered the U.S.
Barringer also failed to prepare his client for the merits hearing in her asylum case, which took place in October 2019. He didn’t attend this hearing. Instead, he sent another lawyer to cover it. But that lawyer didn’t speak Spanish and relied on the client’s friend to translate during a brief conferral before the hearing. At the deportation hearing, Barringer’s client agreed to voluntary departure.
The Presiding Disciplinary Judge approved Barringer’s stipulation to discipline and suspended him for 60 days, all to be stayed upon Barringer’s successful completion of a one-year conditional probation. The discipline takes into account substantial mitigating factors and was effective March 10.