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TCL > April 2002 Issue > Opinions

April 2002       Vol. 31, No. 4       Page  117
From the Courts
Colorado Disciplinary Cases

Opinions

Case Number: 00PDJ089

(consolidated with 01PDJ061)

Complainant:

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF COLORADO,

Respondent:

JEAN SHAMA NELSON.

February 8, 2002

ORIGINAL PROCEEDING IN DISCIPLINE BEFORE

THE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDING DISCIPLINARY JUDGE

REPORT, DECISION AND IMPOSITION OF SANCTION

Opinion by Presiding Disciplinary Judge Roger L. Keithley and Hearing Board members, Dante J. James and Henry C. Frey, both members of the bar.

SANCTION IMPOSED: ATTORNEY DISBARRED.

A sanctions hearing pursuant to C.R.C.P. 251.15 was held on December 5, 2001, before the Presiding Disciplinary Judge ("PDJ") and two hearing board members, Dante J. James and Henry C. Frey, both members of the bar. Gregory S. Sapakoff, Assistant Attorney Regulation Counsel, represented the People of the State of Colorado (the "People"). The respondent, Jean Shama Nelson ("Nelson"), did not appear.

The Complaint in Case No. 00PDJ089 was filed on November 30, 2000, and the Complaint in Case No. 01PDJ061 was filed on May 30, 2001. Nelson did not file Answers to either Complaint. Pursuant to motions filed on behalf of the People, default as to the facts alleged and the violations charged were granted in both cases. Thereafter, the People requested consolidation of the cases for purposes of a sanctions hearing, and the PDJ entered an order consolidating the two disciplinary proceedings on June 29, 2001.

At the sanctions hearing, the People offered and the PDJ admitted exhibit 1, the Reports of Investigations, into evidence. The People also presented records of Nelson’s prior discipline for consideration by the PDJ and Hearing Board. The PDJ and Hearing Board considered the People’s argument, the facts established by the entry of default, the exhibit admitted, and made the following findings of fact which were established by clear and convincing evidence.

I. FINDINGS OF FACT

Nelson has taken and subscribed to the oath of admission, was admitted to the bar of the Colorado Supreme Court on May 21, 1986, and is registered upon the official records of this court, registration number 15625. Nelson is subject to the jurisdiction of this court pursuant to C.R.C.P. 251.1(b).

All factual allegations set forth in the Complaints in this consolidated matter were deemed admitted by the entry of default. The facts set forth therein are therefore established by clear and convincing evidence. See Complaints attached hereto as exhibits 1 and 2.

II. CONCLUSIONS OF LAW

The entry of default established the following violations of The Colorado Rules of Professional Conduct ("Colo. RPC") in this consolidated matter: three violations of Colo. RPC 3.4(c)(knowing disobedience of an obligation under the rules of a tribunal), constituting grounds for discipline pursuant to C.R.C.P. 251.28; three violations of Colo. RPC 5.5(a)(practicing law in a jurisdiction in violation of the regulations of the legal profession in that jurisdiction); three violations of Colo. RPC 1.3(neglecting a legal matter entrusted to the lawyer); three violations of Colo. RPC 1.4(a)(failing to communicate with a client); two violations of Colo. RPC 1.16(d)(failing to protect a client’s interests upon termination), and one violation of Colo. RPC 8.4(c)(engaging in conduct involving fraud deceit, misrepresentation or dishonesty — knowing conversion).

Nelson was suspended from the practice of law on May 27, 1999 for failing to comply with mandatory continuing legal education requirements. See C.R.C.P. 260.6(1). He was not reinstated from that suspension until December 27, 1999. Following notice of his suspension, Nelson did not file an affidavit with the Supreme Court attesting that he had notified clients and opposing counsel of his suspension as required by C.R.C.P. 251.28(d). Nelson was once again suspended from the practice of law on May 9, 2000 under C.R.C.P. 251.8.5 for failure to comply with court orders regarding child support payments. Nelson again failed to file the required affidavit under C.R.C.P. 251.28(d) with the Supreme Court following notice of his suspension. Nelson remains suspended under the May 9, 2000, immediate suspension order.1

The facts established by the entry of default reveal that in more than one case, while authorized to practice law, Nelson neglected legal matters entrusted to him and failed to adequately communicate with his clients. While he was suspended from the practice of law, Nelson continued to practice law in state and federal courts in defiance of the suspension orders and in violation of Colo. RPC 5.5(a)(an attorney shall not practice law in a jurisdiction where doing so violates the regulations of the legal profession in that jurisdiction). In at least four separate cases, Nelson continued to represent clients in ongoing cases. In both the Phillips and Herrera matters, Nelson neglected to fulfill his obligations to his clients and neglected their legal matters in violation of Colo. RPC 1.3(a lawyer shall not neglect a legal matter entrusted to him). In the Phillips matter, Nelson took no other action after filing a complaint on behalf of Phillips, and failed to inform Phillips that his case had been dismissed due to Nelson’s failure to prosecute his matter.

In both the Phillips and Herrera matters, Nelson failed to communicate with the clients during a critical period in their legal proceedings in violation of Colo. RPC 1.4(a)(an attorney shall keep a client reasonably informed about the status of a matter and promptly comply with reasonable requests for information), despite both clients’ repeated attempts to obtain information about their cases. In both the Herrera and Phillips matters, Nelson failed to return the file to the clients upon request in violation of Colo. RPC 1.16(d)(an attorney shall, upon termination of representation, take steps to the extent reasonably practicable to protect a client’s interests, including giving reasonable notice to the client, allowing time for employment of other counsel, surrendering papers and property to which the client is entitled, and refunding any advance payment of any fee not earned). Nelson knowingly failed to comply with his obligation under C.R.C.P. 251.28 and violated Colo. RPC 3.4(c)(an attorney shall not knowingly disobey an obligation under the rules of a tribunal) by failing to provide any notice to the client, the opposing party, or the court of his administrative suspension.

In the Herrera matter, in August 1999, while suspended from the practice of law, Nelson was contacted by Rebecca Herrera concerning an immigration matter involving her husband. Nelson agreed to represent the husband in return for $3,000. Nelson accepted an initial payment of $1,000 from Herrera toward the representation. Shortly thereafter, Nelson appeared before the Immigration and Naturalization Service ("INS") on the husband’s behalf. The INS gave Nelson a short period of time within which to submit appropriate documentation regarding the husband. Nelson did not do so and the husband was promptly deported. Thereafter, Nelson did no further work on behalf of the husband and, notwithstanding Herrera’s efforts to determine the status of her husband’s case from Nelson, failed to communicate with Herrera regarding the matter. Eventually, Herrera demanded a refund of her unearned funds. Nelson did not respond. The totality of the circumstances set forth in the complaint regarding the Herrera matter evidence that Nelson abandoned his client. See People v. Daitzman, no. 00PDJ052 (Colo. PDJ January 24, 2000), 2001 Colo. Discipl. LEXIS 23 (stating that abandonment may be found when the proof objectively indicates that the attorney has deserted, rejected and/or relinquished the professional responsibilities owed to the client, citing People v. Carvell, no. 99PDJ096, slip op. at 11 (Colo. PDJ Sept 11, 2000), 2000 Colo. Discipl. LEXIS 26.

At the time he agreed to represent Herrera’s husband, Nelson knew he was suspended from the practice of law. Notwithstanding that fact, Nelson accepted $1,000 from Herrera as legal fees. By accepting the $1,000 from Herrera as legal fees at a point in time when he knew he could not practice law, Nelson exercised unauthorized dominion and control over the funds of another. Because he could not practice law, Nelson could not and did not "earn" those funds by virtue of his work on behalf of the client. Herrera’s later demand for refund of the $1,000 went unanswered. There is no evidence in the record of this case that Nelson performed any services on behalf of Herrera or her husband after December 27, 1999, the date of Nelson’s reinstatement.2

Nelson engaged in knowing conversion of the Herrera funds in violation of Colo. RPC 8.4(c)(it is professional misconduct for an attorney to engage in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation). See People v. Varallo, 913 P.2d 1, 11 (Colo. 1996)(holding that knowing misappropriation [for which the lawyer is almost invariably disbarred] "consists simply of a lawyer taking a client’s money entrusted to him, knowing that it is the client’s money and knowing that the client has not authorized the taking," citing In re Noonan, 102 N. J. 160, 506 A2d 722 (1986)). Nelson knew the funds did not belong to him, knew that he could not earn the funds at the time he accepted them and knew that he performed no services for the client which would authorize him to earn the funds. Moreover, after Herrera demanded a return of her funds, Nelson ignored the demand and continued to retain control of Herrera’s funds.

III. SANCTIONS/IMPOSITION OF DISCIPLINE

The PDJ and Hearing Board found that Nelson’s conduct constituted a violation of duties owed to the legal system, the profession and to the public. The ABA’s Standards for Imposing Lawyer Sanctions (1991 & Supp. 1992) ("ABA Standards") is the guiding authority for selecting the appropriate sanction to impose for lawyer misconduct.

ABA Standard 4.11 provides:

Disbarment is generally appropriate when a lawyer knowingly converts client property and causes injury or potential injury to a client.

ABA Standard 4.41(a) provides:

Disbarment is generally appropriate when a lawyer abandons the practice and causes serious or potentially serious injury to a client.

ABA Standard 6.22 provides:

Suspension is appropriate when a lawyer knowingly violates a court order or rule, and there is injury or potential injury to a client or a party, or interference or potential interference with a legal proceeding.

Nelson’s conduct meets the criteria under ABA Standards 4.11 and 4.41(a). Nelson knowingly converted client funds, abandoned his client in the Herrera matter and caused injury to both his clients in the Phillips and Herrera matters.

The presumptive sanction recommended by ABA Standards 4.41 and 4.41(a) depends on the degree of injury or potential injury occasioned by the lawyer’s misconduct. Compare ABA Standards 4.41(a) and 6.22, supra. Nelson failed to take steps on behalf of Herrera’s husband despite his having been reinstated to the practice of law in December 1999, even though there was an urgent and immediate need for counsel to take steps on the client’s behalf to allow him to remain legally in the United States. Nelson’s abandonment in the Herrera matter caused severe hardship to this client. In the Phillips matter, Nelson failed to inform his client of the court’s show cause order, requiring Nelson to show cause why Phillip’s matter should not be dismissed for failure to prosecute. The client’s case was dismissed. Both clients were constrained to hire replacement counsel.

Colorado case law is consistent with the ABA Standards in holding that disbarment is the presumed sanction for abandonment of a client coupled with knowing misappropriation of client funds. See People v. Skaalerud, 963 P.2d 341, 344 (Colo. 1998)(approving conditional admission of misconduct agreeing to disbarment where attorney misappropriated settlement proceeds from multiple clients and abandoned them); People v. Holmes, 951 P.2d 477, 479 (Colo. 1998)(disbarring attorney, in part, for misappropriating fees and abandoning clients); People v. McDowell, 942 P.2d 486, 492 (Colo. 1997)(holding that disbarment was the presumed sanction for knowing misappropriation of funds); People v. Gilbert, 921 P.2d 48, 50 (Colo. 1996)(disbarring attorney in default proceedings where attorney converted client funds in conjunction with abandonment of practice); People v. Elliott, no. 99PDJ059 (consolidated with 99PDJ086) slip op. at 8 (Colo. PDJ March 1, 2000); 2000 Colo. Discipl. LEXIS 40 (attorney disbarred for abandoning his clients and conversion of clients’ funds).

Nelson’s repeated violation of the suspension orders, his failure to comply with C.R.C.P. 251.28(d), his neglect of his clients and his failure to communicate with them would ordinarily be grounds for suspension under ABA Standard 6.22. In this case, however, this additional misconduct only reinforces the sanction of disbarment.

The PDJ and Hearing Board considered aggravating and mitigating factors pursuant to ABA Standards 9.22. The People offered unrebutted evidence in aggravation that Nelson’s conduct demonstrated a dishonest or selfish motive, see id. at 9.22(b); he committed multiple offenses, see id. at 9.22(d), he failed to participate in this consolidated matter, see id. at 9.22(e) and, as set forth supra, he had significant prior discipline, see id. at 9.22(a).

IV. ORDER

It is therefore ORDERED:

1. JEAN SHAMA NELSON, registration number 15625 is DISBARRED from the practice of law effective thirty-one days from the date of this Order, and his name shall be stricken from the roll of attorneys licensed to practice law in this state.

2. Prior to the submission of any Petition for Readmission pursuant to C.R.C.P. 251.29, Jean Shama Nelson shall pay to Ms. Herrera the sum of $1,000, plus statutory interest from August 20, 1999.

3. Nelson is ORDERED to pay the costs of these proceedings within sixty (60) days of the date of this Order.

4. The People shall submit a Statement of Costs within ten (10) days of the date of this Order. Respondent shall have five (5) days thereafter to submit a response thereto.

EXHIBIT 1

COMPLAINT

THIS COMPLAINT is filed pursuant to the authority of C.R.C.P. 251.9 through 251.14, and it is alleged as follows:

JURISDICTION

1. The respondent has taken and subscribed the oath of admission, was admitted to the bar of this court on May 21, 1986, and is registered upon the official records of this court, registration No. 15625. He is subject to the jurisdiction of this court in these disciplinary proceedings. The respondent’s registered business address is 10141 Montview Boulevard, Aurora, Colorado 80015. His last known home address is 4650 South Idalia Street, Aurora, Colorado 80015.

(1) GENERAL FACTUAL ALLEGATIONS

2. On or about April 8, 1999, the Board of Continuing Legal — Judicial Education filed with the Colorado Supreme Court a notice concerning the respondent’s failure to comply with C.R.C.P. 260, concerning mandatory continuing legal education.

3. The notice sent by the Board of Continuing Legal — Judicial Education alleged that the respondent had not completed 45 units of general CLE credits, including 7 units of ethics credit, between September 16, 1996 and December 31, 1998, as required by C.R.C.P. 260.6 (1).

4. A copy of the notice concerning the respondent’s non-compliance with his continuing legal education requirements was sent to the respondent at his registered address.

5. The respondent failed to take steps to comply with his CLE requirements or to demonstrate compliance with those requirements after receiving the notice from the Board of Continuing Legal — Judicial Education.

6. On May 27, 1999, the Colorado Supreme Court issued an Order suspending the respondent from the practice of law in Colorado because of his failure to comply with mandatory CLE requirements. The Colorado Supreme Court mailed a copy of the order to the respondent at his registered address.

7. After the order was entered suspending the respondent for failure to comply with mandatory CLE requirements, the respondent failed to submit to the Colorado Supreme Court an affidavit, in compliance with C.R.C.P. 251.28(d), verifying that he had notified all clients and all opposing parties in litigation of his administrative suspension.

8. On December 27, 1999, the Colorado Supreme Court entered an order reinstating the respondent to the practice of law in Colorado after the respondent demonstrated his compliance with mandatory CLE requirements.

9. The respondent’s reinstatement in December 1999 was based upon a petition he submitted in which he alleged that he had completed his mandatory CLE requirements primarily through home study programs completed in November and December 1999.

10. On May 9, 2000, the respondent was immediately suspended from the practice of law pursuant to C.R.C.P. 251.8.5, because of his failure to comply with court orders concerning the payment of child support.

11. The respondent has remained on immediate suspension continuously since May 9, 2000.

12. Since the respondent was immediately suspended from the practice of law in May 2000, the respondent has not filed with the Colorado Supreme Court an affidavit in compliance with C.R.C.P. 251.28(d) verifying that he has given notice of his suspension to all his clients and to all parties in pending litigation.

CLAIM I

[Failure to File Required Affidavit with the Colorado Supreme Court following Administrative Suspension — C.R.C.P. 251.28(d) and Colo. RPC 3.4(c)]

13. Paragraphs 1 though 12 are incorporated herein.

14. Within 10 days after the effective date of the order suspending the respondent for failure to comply with mandatory CLE requirements, the respondent was required, pursuant to C.R.C.P. 251.28(d), to file an affidavit with the Colorado Supreme Court setting forth a list of all pending matters in which he served as counsel and showing that he had fully complied with the provisions of the order of suspension and of C.R.C.P. 251.28; that he had notified every other jurisdiction before which he was admitted to practice law of the order entered against him; and that he had served a copy of his affidavit upon counsel for the Appellate Discipline Commission, the Presiding Disciplinary Judge, and Regulation Counsel.

15. The respondent knowingly failed to comply with his obligations pursuant to C.R.C.P. 251.28(d) following his administrative suspension in May 1999.

16. Through his conduct as described above, the respondent violated Colo. RPC 3.4(c) (a lawyer shall not knowingly disobey an obligation under the rules of a tribunal).

WHEREFORE, the complainant prays at the conclusion hereof.

CLAIM II

[Failure to File Required Affidavit with the Colorado Supreme Court following immediate suspension — C.R.C.P. 251.28(d) and Colo. RPC 3.4(c)]

17. Paragraphs 2 through 16 are incorporated herein.

18. Within 10 days after the effective date of the order immediately suspending the respondent for failure to comply with court orders concerning the payment of child support, the respondent was required, pursuant to C.R.C.P. 251.28(d), to file an affidavit with the Colorado Supreme Court setting forth a list of all pending matters in which he served as counsel and showing that he had fully complied with the provisions of the order of suspension and of C.R.C.P. 251.28(d); that he had notified every other jurisdiction before which he was admitted to practice law of the order entered against him; and that he had served a copy of his affidavit upon counsel for the Appellate Discipline Commission, the Presiding Disciplinary Judge, and Regulation Counsel.

19. The respondent knowingly failed to comply with his obligations pursuant to C.R.C.P. 251.28(d) following his immediate suspension in May 2000.

20. Through his conduct as described above, the respondent violated Colo. RPC 3.4(c) (a lawyer shall not knowingly disobey an obligation under the rules of a tribunal).

WHEREFORE, the complainant prays at the conclusion hereof.

CLAIM III

[Practicing law while under administrative suspension — Colo. RPC 5.5 (a)]

21. Paragraphs 2 though 20 are incorporated herein.

22. At the time of his administrative suspension in May 2000, the respondent was counsel of record for Brenda Casey, the petitioner in In re the Marriage of Casey, Arapahoe County District Court, case number 98DR1869.

23. Following his administrative suspension, the respondent continued to represent Ms. Casey in case number 98DR1869, including the preparation and filing of pleadings in that case.

24. The respondent also remained counsel of record in several other pending cases while he was on administrative suspension, including, but not limited to Phillips v. Preferred Risk Financial, Inc., Denver District Court, case number 98CV4210.

25. By continuing to practice law while under administrative suspension, the respondent violated the order of suspension and the regulations of the legal profession in the state of Colorado pursuant to which the respondent was suspended.

26. Through his conduct as described above, the respondent violated Colo. RPC 5.5(a) (a lawyer shall not practice law in a jurisdiction where doing so violates the regulations of the legal profession in that jurisdiction).

WHEREFORE, the complainant prays at the conclusion hereof.

CLAIM IV

[Continuing to practice law while under suspension is violation of the regulations of the legal profession in the United States District Court for the District of Colorado — Colo. RPC 5.5(a)]

27. Paragraphs 2 though 26 are incorporated herein.

28. At the time of respondent’s immediate suspension from the practice of law in May 2000, the respondent was counsel of record for the plaintiff in Gordon v. J.C. Penny Company, United States District Court, case number 98S1270.

29. The respondent is not licensed to practice law in any state other than Colorado.

30. Pursuant to Rule 83.5(F) of the local rules for the United States District Court for the District of Colorado, an attorney admitted to the bar of the U.S. District Court must remain in good standing in all courts where admitted. The rule specifically provides that "no attorney may practice before the bar of this court or continue to be an attorney of record in any proceeding who is under suspension for any period or had been disbarred by any court where previously admitted."

31. The respondent continued to represent the plaintiff in U.S. District Court in Gordon v. J.C. Penny Company, following his immediate suspension until at least June 5, 2000, when the U.S. District Court entered an order declaring that the respondent "is withdrawn as counsel for plaintiff in the above-captioned case."

32. Until the Court entered its order withdrawing the respondent as counsel for the plaintiff in Gordon v. J.C. Penny Company, the respondent briefly practiced law in the U.S. District Court in violation of Rule 83.5(F) of the local rules for the United States District Court for the District of Colorado.

33. Through his conduct as described above, the respondent violated Colo. RPC 5.5(a) (a lawyer shall not practice law in a jurisdiction where doing do so violates the regulations of the legal profession in that jurisdiction).

WHEREFORE, the complainant prays at the conclusion hereof.

CLAIM V

[Neglect of a Legal Matter — Colo. RPC 1.3]

34. Paragraphs 2 though 33 are incorporated herein.

35. In 1997, Thurman Phillips, a complaining witness in this matter, retained the respondent to represent him in asserting claims stemming from an auto accident which occurred on December 16, 1996.

36. On May 22, 1998, the respondent filed a complaint on behalf of Mr. Phillips.

37. After the respondent filed the complaint, Mr. Phillips contacted the respondent’s office frequently in an attempt to determine the status of his case.

38. The respondent did not return Mr. Phillips’ telephone calls seeking reasonable information concerning the status of his case.

39. After filing the complaint for Mr. Phillips, the respondent took no further action of record in his case other than filing a motion for extension of time to effect service of process.

40. The respondent failed to notify Mr. Phillips of the respondent’s administrative suspension in May 1999, and failed to advise Mr. Phillips that he could no longer represent him in his civil action.

41. In June of 1999, the District Court sent an order to the respondent directing him to show cause why Mr. Phillips’ case should not be dismissed for failure to prosecute.

42. The respondent received the order directing him to show cause why Mr. Phillips case should not be dismissed for failure to prosecute.

43. The respondent failed to send a copy of the show cause order to Mr. Phillips and failed to respond to the motion.

44. On or about July 28, 1999, the court dismissed Mr. Phillips’ complaint for failure to prosecute.

45. The respondent never informed Mr. Phillips that his case had been dismissed for failure to prosecute.

46. Through his conduct as described above, the respondent violated Colo. RPC 1.3 (a lawyer shall not neglect a legal matter entrusted to the lawyer).

WHEREFORE, the complainant prays at the conclusion hereof.

CLAIM VI

[Failure to communicate with a client — Colo. RPC 1.4(a)]

47. Paragraphs 2 though 46 are incorporated herein.

48. After filing the complaint in Mr. Phillips’ case, the respondent failed to keep Mr. Phillips informed about the status of his case or of the respondent’s administrative suspension from the practice of law.

49. After filing the complaint in Mr. Phillips’ case, the respondent failed to respond to any telephone calls from Mr. Phillips seeking information about the status of his case, even when communication was necessary to inform Mr. Phillips of the need to retain new counsel to represent him and to respond to the court’s order to show cause.

50. In November 1999, Mr. Phillips retained new counsel, Randy Corporon, Esq., to represent him in his case.

51. Until Mr. Corporon reviewed the court file, Mr. Phillips was not aware that his case had been dismissed.

52. After he began representing Mr. Phillips, Mr. Corporon attempted to get information from the respondent concerning Mr. Phillips case.

53. The respondent failed to respond to telephone calls and written correspondence from Mr. Corporon.

54. Through his conduct as described above, the respondent violated Colo. RPC 1.4(a) (a lawyer shall keep a client reasonably informed about the status of a matter and promptly comply with reasonable requests for information).

WHEREFORE, the complainant prays at the conclusion hereof.

CLAIM VII

[Failure to protect the client’s interest upon termination of representation — Colo. RPC 1.16(d)]

55. Paragraphs 2 though 54 are incorporated herein.

56. Mr. Corporon was successful in getting Mr. Phillips’ case reinstated in Denver District Court.

57. Mr. Corporon and his staff attempted to contact the respondent by telephone several times in late 1999 and early 2000 concerning Mr. Phillips’ file.

58. Telephone messages left on respondent’s voice mail were not returned, despite the fact that the respondent had been reinstated to the practice of law in December 1999.

59. On or about December 9, 1999, Mr. Corporon sent a letter to the respondent by certified mail at his registered address demanding Mr. Phillips’ file.

60. The letter from Mr. Corporon was received by the respondent and signed for by a member of the respondent’s family.

61. The respondent never responded to Mr. Corporon’s letter, nor did he ever release Mr. Phillips’ file.

62. In August 2000, Mr. Corporon filed a motion to voluntarily dismiss Mr. Phillips’ civil action.

63. The decision to dismiss Mr. Phillips’ civil action was based in part on the inability to move forward on the case because of the respondent’s failure to turn over Mr. Phillips’ file.

64. Mr. Phillips’ file, in the possession of the respondent, includes original documents and records provided to the respondent by Mr. Phillips.

65. The respondent’s representation of Mr. Phillips’ was effectively terminated by the respondent’s administrative suspension in May 1999.

66. The respondent’s status as counsel of record for Mr. Phillips was terminated when Mr. Corporon entered his appearance as counsel for Mr. Phillips.

67. Through his conduct following the termination of his representation, the respondent violated Colo. RPC 1.16(d) (upon termination of representation, a lawyer shall take steps to the extent reasonably practicable to protect the client’s interests, such as giving reasonable notice to the client, allowing time for employment of other counsel, and surrendering papers and property to which the client is entitled).

WHEREFORE, the complainant prays at the conclusion hereof.

CLAIM VIII

[Failure to give notice of administrative suspension — C.R.C.P. 251.28 and Colo. RPC 3.4(c)]

68. Paragraphs 2 though 67 are incorporated herein.

69. Following his administrative suspension in May 1999, the respondent was obligated, pursuant to C.R.C.P. 251.28, to notify Mr. Phillips, the opposing party in Mr. Phillips’ case, and the Denver District Court, of his administrative suspension.

70. The respondent failed to provide any notice to Mr. Phillips, the opposing party, or the Denver District Court of this administrative suspension from the practice of law.

71. Through his conduct as described above, the respondent failed to comply with his obligation under C.R.C.P. 251.28 and violated Colo. RPC 3.4(c) (a lawyer shall not knowingly violate an obligation under the rules of a tribunal).

WHEREFORE, it is prayed that the respondent be found guilty of violations of various rules of conduct which establish grounds for discipline as provided in C.R.C.P. 251.5, including C.R.C.P. 251.28, C.R.C.P. 251.28(d), Colo. RPC 1.3, Colo. RPC 1.4(a), Colo. RPC 1.16(d), Colo. RPC 3.4(c), and Colo. RPC 5.5(a), and that he be appropriately disciplined and assessed the costs of these proceedings.

EXHIBIT 2

COMPLAINT

THIS COMPLAINT is filed pursuant to the authority of C.R.C.P. 251.9 through 251.14, and it is alleged as follows:

JURISDICTION

1. The respondent has taken and subscribed the oath of admission, was admitted to the bar of this court on May 21, 1986, and is registered upon the official records of this court, registration no. 15625. He is subject to the jurisdiction of this court in these disciplinary proceedings. The respondent’s registered business address is 10141 Montview Boulevard, Aurora, Colorado 80015. His last known home address is 4650 South Idalia Street, Aurora, Colorado 80015.

GENERAL ALLEGATIONS

2. On or about April 8, 1999, the Board of Continuing Legal-Judicial Education filed with the Colorado Supreme Court a notice concerning the respondent’s failure to comply with C.R.C.P. 260 concerning mandatory continuing legal education.

3. The notice alleged that the respondent had not completed 45 units of general CLE credits, including 7 units of ethics credit, between September 16, 1996 and December 31, 1998, as required by C.R.C.P. 261.6(1).

4. A copy of the notice concerning respondent’s non-compliance with his continuing legal education requirements was sent to the respondent at his registered address.

5. On May 27, 1999, the Colorado Supreme Court issued an order suspending the respondent from the practice of law in Colorado because of his failure to comply with mandatory CLE requirements.

6. A copy of the order suspending the respondent was mailed to the respondent at his registered address.

7. On August 17, 1999, Rebecca Herrera, the complaining witness in this matter, contacted the respondent by telephone concerning problems her husband, Miguel Angel Herrera-Rojas ("Miguel"), was having with the United States Immigration and Naturalization Service ("INS").

8. On August 11, 1999, Miguel, who was a resident alien, had been pulled over in Cheyenne, Wyoming and issued traffic citations. On August 12, 1999, the INS took Miguel into custody and transported him to a detention facility in Denver.

9. When Ms. Herrera contacted the respondent, she explained the situation, including the fact that she had been married to Miguel for over a year and that she was eight months pregnant with their first child.

10. The respondent told Ms. Herrera that he could handle the case before the INS and that his fee for everything included in the representation would be $3,000.00.

11. The respondent agreed to accept an initial payment of $1,000.00 from Ms. Herrera toward the total fee in order to take the initial steps necessary to have Miguel released from detention.

12. On August 20, 1999, Ms. Herrera drove to Denver from Wyoming and met with the respondent. On that date, Ms. Herrera paid the respondent in cash and received a receipt from the respondent.

13. On September 1, 1999, the respondent appeared before the INS on behalf of Miguel, but was not successful in securing his release. Following the proceedings, the respondent was given until September 3, 1999 to file appropriate paperwork to prevent Miguel’s deportation.

14. On September 7, 1999, Ms. Herrera received a telephone call from Miguel from Mexico, notifying Ms. Herrera that Miguel had been deported.

15. Miguel had been deported because the respondent had failed to file the necessary paperwork to prevent his deportation.

16. After learning that Miguel had been deported, Ms. Herrera confronted the respondent about what had occurred. The respondent represented to Ms. Herrera that he would do everything he could to get Miguel back into the United States.

17. On October 4, 1999, the respondent sent a letter to Ms. Herrera, alleging that he had been misled by the immigration officer he spoke to concerning the case. In the letter, the respondent apologized to Ms. Herrera and stated, "from now on, I will work on the case for free."

18. On October 15, 1999, Ms. Herrera spoke with the respondent by telephone. During the telephone conversation, the respondent told her it would be six months before the paperwork would go through with the INS.

19. Based upon the representations from the respondent, Ms. Herrera waited six months before contacting the respondent again.

20. On December 27, 1999, the Colorado Supreme Court entered an order reinstating the respondent to the practice of law after he demonstrated his compliance with mandatory CLE requirements.

21. The respondent’s reinstatement was based upon a petition submitted by the respondent on December 27, 1999. In his petition for reinstatement, the respondent alleged that he had completed his mandatory CLE requirements primarily through home study programs completed in November and December of 1999.

22. In April 2000, Ms. Herrera left numerous messages for the respondent by telephone at both his home and office telephone numbers, requesting that the respondent call her regarding Miguel’s case.

23. On one occasion in April 2000, Ms. Herrera reached the respondent at his home late at night. After initially denying his identity, the respondent told Ms. Herrera, "I have nothing to say to you."

24. The respondent hung up the phone on Ms. Herrera and never spoke to her again.

25. On October 18, 2000, Ms. Herrera sent a letter to the respondent via certified mail, which the respondent received and signed for on October 30, 2000.

26. In her letter, Ms. Herrera summarized her efforts to get information from the respondent and told the respondent that he could finish the case by completing the necessary paperwork within 30 days, or he could refund the money she had paid and send the entire file concerning Miguel’s matter to her within 30 days so she could hire another attorney.

27. The respondent did not respond to Ms. Herrera’s letter and took no further action in Miguel’s case.

28. The respondent’s representation was effectively terminated effective no later than November 30, 2000.

CLAIM I

[Practicing law while under administrative suspension - Colo. RPC 5.5(a)]

29. Paragraphs 2 through 28 are incorporated herein.

30. The respondent knew that he was suspended from the practice of law in Colorado for failure to comply with mandatory CLE requirements from May 27, 1999, through December 27, 1999.

31. During that period of time, the respondent knew that he was not permitted to practice law in the State of Colorado.

32. The respondent is not licensed to practice law in any other state.

33. Through his conduct as described above, including accepting a retainer for legal services; given legal advice concerning Miguel’s immigration problems; and appearing on Miguel’s behalf before the INS, the respondent engaged in the practice of law while under administrative suspension.

34. Through his conduct as described above, the respondent violated Colo. RPC 5.5(a) (a lawyer shall not practice law in a jurisdiction where doing so violates the regulations of the legal profession in that jurisdiction).

WHEREFORE, the complainant prays at the conclusion hereof.

CLAIM II

[Neglect of a legal matter — Colo. RPC 1.3]

35. Paragraphs 2 through 34 are incorporated herein.

36. Throughout the time he represented Miguel, the respondent neglected Miguel’s case as described above.

37. Although the respondent was unable to practice law between May 27, 1999 and December 27, 1999, he was able to provide legal services and take appropriate steps in Miguel’s case after he was reinstated to the practice of law.

38. Even after his reinstatement to the practice of law in December 1999, the respondent failed to take any steps to assist Miguel in his case before the INS.

39. From the time the respondent was first retained by Ms. Herrera to represent Miguel, there was a need for counsel to take prompt steps on Miguel’s behalf to allow him to remain in the United States legally.

40. The respondent failed to fulfill his obligation to act with diligence and promptness in representing Miguel and neglected the legal matter entrusted to him.

41. Through his conduct as described above, the respondent violated Colo. RPC 1.3 (a lawyer shall act with reasonable diligence and promptness in representing a client and shall not neglect a legal matter entrusted to that lawyer).

WHEREFORE, the complainant prays at the conclusion hereof.

CLAIM III

[Failure to Communicate — Colo. RPC 1.4(a)]

42. Paragraphs 2 through 41 are incorporated herein.

43. During the time the respondent represented Miguel as described above, he had an obligation to keep his client and/or Ms. Herrera (on behalf of his client) reasonably informed about the status of the matter and to comply with reasonable requests for information.

44. Throughout his representation, and particularly throughout the year 2000, the respondent failed to comply with this obligation at a time when communication with the client or Ms. Herrera was vital.

45. Through his conduct as described above, the respondent has violated Colo. RPC 1.4(a) (a lawyer shall keep a client reasonably informed about the status of a matter and promptly comply with reasonable requests for information from a client).

WHEREFORE, the complainant prays at the conclusion hereof.

CLAIM IV

[Abandonment — Colo. RPC 1.3 and Colo. RPC 1.4(a)]

46. Paragraphs 2 through 45 are incorporated herein.

47. Through his combined neglect and failure to communicate when action on the case and communication were necessary, the respondent made himself completely inaccessible to his client or to Ms. Herrera.

48. Through his conduct as described above, the respondent abandoned a client, in violation of both Colo. RPC 1.3 and Colo. RPC 1.4(a).

WHEREFORE, the complainant prays at the conclusion hereof.

CLAIM V

[Failure upon termination of representation to take steps to protect a client’s interests, including refunding unearned fees and failure to return client property — Colo. RPC 1.16(d)]

49. Paragraphs 2 through 48 are incorporated herein.

50. During the time the respondent provided any legal services to Ms. Herrera or Miguel, the respondent was suspended from the practice of law and not entitled to receive payment for legal services.

51. The respondent substantially failed to perform the legal services for which he was paid in advance by Ms. Herrera.

52. The respondent has failed, since his representation was terminated in approximately November 2000, to refund any of the advance payment of fee given to him by Ms. Herrera to represent Miguel.

53. The respondent has also failed, since his representation was terminated, to comply with Ms. Herrera’s request that he return to her the entire file concerning Miguel’s case.

54. Through his conduct as described above, the respondent has violated Colo. RPC 1.16(d) (upon termination of representation, a lawyer shall take steps to the extent reasonably practicable to protect a client’s interests, including surrendering papers and property to which the client is entitled and refunding any advanced payment of fee that has not been earned).

WHEREFORE, the complainant prays at the conclusion hereof.

CLAIM VI

[Misrepresentation and conversion — Colo. RPC 8.4(c)]

55. Paragraphs 2 through 54 are incorporated herein.

56. The respondent accepted an advanced payment of fees from Ms. Herrera at a time when he knew he was suspended from the practice of law.

57. In so doing, the respondent knowingly misrepresented to Ms. Herrera, by omission, his status as a suspended lawyer.

58. The respondent made affirmative and knowing misrepresentations to Ms. Herrera by telling her he would take steps to get Miguel back into the United States after he was deported, when he knew he was still under administrative suspension and unable to represent Miguel in proceedings before the INS.

59. Since his representation was terminated in approximately November 2000, the respondent has continued to exercise dominion or control over funds belonging to Ms. Herrera without her consent.

60. Through his continued exercise of unauthorized dominion or control over funds belonging to Ms. Herrera for many months after she demanded a refund of the unearned funds, the respondent has knowingly converted funds belonging to a client or a third party.

61. Through his knowing conversion of client or third party funds, the respondent has engaged in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation.

62. Through his conduct as described above, the respondent has violated Colo. RPC 8.4(c) (it is professional misconduct for a lawyer to engage in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation).

WHEREFORE, it is prayed that the respondent be found guilty of violations of various rules of conduct, including Colo. RPC 1.3, 1.4(a), 1.16(d), 5.5(a), and 8.4(c), which establish grounds for discipline as provided in C.R.C.P. 251.5, and the Colorado Rules of Professional Conduct and that he be appropriately disciplined and assessed the costs of these proceedings.

_______

1. On July 26, 2001, Nelson received a disciplinary suspension of 18 months for misconduct relating to his knowing disobedience of court orders regarding child support. See People v. Nelson, No. 99PDJ102 (Colo. PDJ July 26, 2001) 2001 Colo. Discipl. LEXIS 65.

2. One of the Colo. RPC 1.3(neglect) violations is based upon the fact that Nelson did not perform any services for Herrera or her husband between December 27, 1999 and May 9, 2000.

 

Case Number: 01PDJ027

(consolidated with 01PDJ047)

Complainant:

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF COLORADO,

Respondent:

RORY SEGAL.

February 6, 2002

ORIGINAL PROCEEDING IN DISCIPLINE BEFORE

THE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDING DISCIPLINARY JUDGE

REPORT, DECISION AND IMPOSITION OF SANCTION

Opinion by Presiding Disciplinary Judge Roger L. Keithley and Hearing Board members, Corinne Martinez-Casias, a member of the bar, and Pat Cortez, a representative of the public.

SANCTION IMPOSED: ATTORNEY SUSPENDED FOR EIGHTEEN MONTHS, EIGHT MONTHS STAYED FOLLOWED BY A ONE YEAR PERIOD PROBATION.

A sanctions hearing pursuant to C.R.C.P. 251.15 was held on December 6, 2001, before the Presiding Disciplinary Judge ("PDJ") and two hearing board members, Corinne Martinez-Casias, a member of the bar, and Pat Cortez, a representative of the public. Charles E. Mortimer, Jr., Assistant Attorney Regulation Counsel, represented the People of the State of Colorado (the "People"). The respondent, Rory Segal ("Segal"), appeared on his own behalf.

The Complaint in Case No. 01PDJ027 was filed on March 19, 2001, and the Complaint in Case No. 01PDJ047 was filed on April 27, 2001. Segal did not file Answers to the Complaints. On June 27, 2001, the People moved for default in both cases and for consolidation, Segal did not respond, and the PDJ granted the motion and consolidated the two matters on July 19, 2001. On July 19, 2001, the PDJ issued an Order granting default, stating that all factual allegations set forth in the Complaints were deemed admitted pursuant to C.R.C.P. 251.15(b). The default Order also established that several violations of The Rules of Professional Conduct ("Colo. RPC") alleged in the Complaints were deemed admitted. The PDJ denied default in Case No. 01PDJ027 on claim four as to Colo. RPC 3.4(c)(a lawyer shall not knowingly disobey an obligation under the rules of a tribunal) and granted default in part and denied default in part on C.R.C.P. 251.5(c)(any act or omission which violates [the Rules of Professional Conduct] or which violates an order of discipline or disability).1 Default was granted in part and denied in part on Colo. RPC 3.4(e)(a lawyer shall not in trial . . . assert personal knowledge of facts in issue . . . or state a personal opinion as to the . . . credibility of a witness . . . ) in claim five.2 In Case No. 01PDJ047, the PDJ denied default as to Colo. RPC 1.16(d)(upon termination of representation, a lawyer shall take steps to the extent reasonably practicable to protect a client’s interests, [including] surrendering papers and property to which the client is entitled) in claim three and Colo. RPC 3.4(c)(a lawyer shall not knowingly disobey an obligation under the rules of a tribunal) and Colo. RPC 8.1(b)(a lawyer shall not knowingly fail to respond reasonably to a lawful demand for information from a disciplinary authority) in claim four. The claims upon which default did not enter were dismissed by Order dated August 8, 2001.

At the sanctions hearing, the People presented evidence from Shirley Medina. Exhibits 1 through 4 were offered by the People and admitted into evidence. The PDJ and Hearing Board considered the People’s argument, the facts established by the entry of default, the exhibits admitted, assessed the testimony and credibility of the witness and made the following findings of fact which were established by clear and convincing evidence.

I. FINDINGS OF FACT

Segal has taken and subscribed to the oath of admission, was admitted to the bar of the Supreme Court on May 23, 1996, and is registered upon the official records of this court, registration number 26867. Segal is subject to the jurisdiction of this court pursuant to C.R.C.P. 251.1(b).

All factual allegations set forth in the Complaints in this consolidated matter were deemed admitted by the entry of default. The facts set forth therein are therefore established by clear and convincing evidence. See Complaints attached hereto as exhibits 1 and 2.

II. CONCLUSIONS OF LAW

The entry of default established the following violations of The Colorado Rules of Professional Conduct in this consolidated matter: Colo. RPC 5.5(a)(a lawyer shall not practice law in a jurisdiction where doing so violates the regulations of the legal profession in that jurisdiction); five separate violations of Colo. RPC 1.3(a lawyer shall act with reasonable diligence and promptness in representing a client), three separate violations of Colo. RPC 8.4(d)(engaging in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice); Colo. RPC 3.4(e)(in trial, assert personal knowledge of the facts in issue), and two separate violations of Colo. RPC 1.4(a)(a lawyer shall keep a client reasonably informed about the status of a matter and promptly comply with reasonable requests for information). Segal’s appearing on behalf of a client while under administrative suspension and failing to comply with the notice provisions of C.R.C.P. 251.28(d) constitutes grounds for discipline pursuant to C.R.C.P. 251.5(c)(any act or omission which violates [the Rules of Professional Conduct] or which violates an order of discipline or disability).

Following his administrative suspension for failure to pay attorney registration fees, Segal failed to comply with the notice provisions of C.R.C.P. 251.28(d)(requiring an attorney to file an affidavit with the supreme court notifying the court of the attorney’s pending matters) constituting grounds for discipline under C.R.C.P. 251.5(c)(any act or omission which violates these Rules or which violates an order of discipline or disability). Segal violated Colo. RPC 5.5(a)(a lawyer shall not practice law in a jurisdiction where doing so violates the regulations of the legal profession in that jurisdiction) by appearing on behalf of a client in a criminal matter while under administrative suspension from the practice of law. Segal’s violation of Colo. RPC 5.5(a) by practicing law while under administrative suspension constitutes grounds for discipline pursuant to C.R.C.P. 251.5(c)(any act or omission which violates these Rules or which violates an order of discipline or disability).

Segal engaged in various forms of neglect with regard to five separate clients in violation of Colo. RPC 1.3(a lawyer shall act with reasonable diligence and promptness in representing a client): he failed to appear at scheduled court matters; he failed to take adequate actions on behalf of a client with regard to a breach of contract claim; he failed to appear for a client’s sentencing hearing and the rescheduled hearing; he failed to return phone calls to a separate client and replacement counsel; and he failed to set a hearing to modify child custody or communicate adequately with the client despite the client’s repeated attempts to contact him.

In two matters, Segal violated Colo. RPC 1.4(a)(a lawyer shall keep a client reasonably informed about the status of a matter and promptly comply with reasonable requests for information) by failing to communicate with his clients. By failing to appear on behalf of clients in two matters, and appearing while under administrative suspension in one matter, Segal violated Colo. RPC 8.4(d)(it is professional misconduct for a lawyer to engage in conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice) by causing the court to schedule additional hearings due to Segal’s actions. In one matter, the court permitted Segal’s client to change his plea and request a preliminary hearing; the client had waived his right to a preliminary hearing while represented by Segal when he was under administrative suspension. Segal violated Colo. RPC 3.4(e)(a lawyer shall not, in trial, assert personal knowledge of facts in issue except when testifying as a witness, or state a personal opinion as to the justness of a cause) in one instance by asserting his personal knowledge of facts in issue in the course of trial.

III. SANCTION/IMPOSITION OF DISCIPLINE

Segal’s most serious misconduct is his pattern of neglect with regard to five separate clients, failing to adequately communicate with his clients in two matters, and continuing to practice law after being suspended. In one matter, Segal misrepresented to the client that he was a licensed attorney when he had been administratively suspended. Segal’s representing a client while under administrative suspension and failing to appear for scheduled conferences resulted in prejudice to the administration of justice.

The ABA Standards for Imposing Lawyer Sanctions (1991 & Supp. 1992) ("ABA Standards") is the guiding authority for selecting the appropriate sanction to impose for lawyer misconduct. ABA Standard 4.42 provides that suspension is generally appropriate when:

(b) a lawyer knowingly fails to perform services for a client and causes injury or potential injury to a client; or

(c) a lawyer engages in a pattern of neglect and causes injury or potential injury to a client.

The Commentary to ABA Standard 4.42 provides that "[s]uspension should be imposed when a lawyer knows that he is not performing the services requested by the client, but does nothing to remedy the situation, or when a lawyer engages in a pattern of neglect, with the result that the lawyer causes injury or potential injury to a client. The presumptive sanction recommended by ABA Standard 4.42 depends on the degree of injury or potential injury occasioned by the lawyer’s misconduct. Compare ABA Standard 4.41, recommending disbarment rather than suspension for neglect resulting in serious injury or potentially serious injury. Although Segal’s misconduct was egregious and resulted in forestalling the resolution of his clients’ matters, there is no evidence that his misconduct resulted in serious injury to his clients.

Colorado case law uniformly holds that a period of suspension is warranted, absent significant mitigation, where the attorney engages in multiple instances of neglect. The length of the suspension is determined by the number of clients affected and the degree of injury to the clients. See People v. Rishel, 956 P.2d 542, 543 (Colo. 1998)(attorney suspended for one year and one day in default proceeding with the requirement of a reinstatement proceeding and payment of restitution where attorney neglected two clients); People v. Hohertz, 926 P.2d 560, 565(Colo. 1996)(attorney suspended for three years pursuant to a conditional admission of misconduct with conditions on reinstatement for, among other rule violations, neglect of five separate client matters and failure to inform a client of his suspension from the practice of law); People v. Berkley, 914 P.2d 338, 341 (Colo.1996)(attorney suspended for one year and one day for neglect of five separate matters and three instances of previous discipline); People v. Clark, 900 P.2d 129, 130 (Colo. 1995)(attorney suspended for one year and one day for, among other rule violations, failing to comply with mandatory continuing legal education requirements, and continuing to practice law after administrative suspension); People v. Schmeiser, No. 00PDJ028 (Colo. PDJ March 15, 2001), 2001 Colo. Discipl. LEXIS 25 (attorney suspended for one year and one day in default proceeding with requirement of reinstatement and payment of restitution for pattern of misconduct including allowing critical deadlines to pass without performing the required services, failing to communicate with his clients, and failing to protect his clients’ interests or return necessary documents and property upon termination).

Determination of the appropriate sanction requires the PDJ and Hearing Board to consider aggravating and mitigating factors. The facts deemed admitted in the Complaint establish two aggravating factors pursuant to ABA Standard 9.22: Segal engaged in a pattern of misconduct, see id. at 9.22(c), and he engaged in multiple offenses, see id. at 9.22(d). In mitigation, Segal has had no prior disciplinary offenses, see id. at 9.32(a).

Although Segal did not initially participate in these disciplinary proceedings, the PDJ and Hearing Board note that he flew from California to represent himself at the sanctions hearing. Segal sincerely expressed remorse for his past actions, which may be considered by the PDJ and Hearing Board as a mitigating factor, see id. at 9.32(l). Segal acknowledged that he handled the cases giving rise to this consolidated matter incorrectly, and took full responsibility for his misconduct. Segal admitted that a period of suspension was warranted, but emphasized his strong desire to be an upstanding member of the bar in Colorado.

The PDJ and Hearing Board find that under Colorado case law a period of suspension is warranted for Segal’s five instances of neglect, two instances of failing to communicate with clients, appearing once on behalf of a client while under administrative suspension, engaging in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice, and Segal’s assertion of his personal knowledge of facts in issue during the course of a trial. However, Segal’s appearance from out of state at the sanctions hearing, his sincere remorse for his prior actions, and his recognition that his misconduct arose from inexperience and difficulty in managing a solo practice persuades the PDJ and Hearing Board that although a substantial period of suspension is called for under existing law, with appropriate conditions imposed upon Segal’s practice of law as a condition of probation, it is unlikely that he will harm the public and, by virtue of the nature of those conditions, he can be adequately supervised. If Segal satisfactorily completes the period of suspension and the probationary period, no reinstatement proceeding under C.R.C.P. 251.29(d) will be required.

IV. ORDER

It is therefore ORDERED:

1. RORY SEGAL, attorney registration number 26867 is suspended from the practice of law effective thirty-one days from the date of this Order for a period of eighteen months, with eight months stayed, followed by one year probation, on the following conditions:

A. Practice monitoring shall be required for a period of one year commencing with Segal’s return to the practice of law in Colorado or elsewhere in accordance with the following terms:

(1) An attorney approved by Attorney Regulation Counsel shall monitor Segal’s law practice for one year in accordance with these conditions. Segal shall identify the proposed monitor to the Attorney Regulation Counsel at least 30 days prior to returning to the practice of law.

(2) As Segal acquires clients, he shall notify the monitor and provide an initial summary of the client’s matter and any action he intends to take. Segal shall prepare and provide to the monitor a timeline for each open case showing deadlines for various actions. On subsequent lists, Segal shall note whether the deadlines have been met and shall identify any additional action that has been taken;

(3) The monitor shall review Segal’s tickler and calendar system initially and then at least twice more, at approximately months six and twelve after the monitor’s monitoring period begins;

(4) Segal shall brief the monitor on his method of accounting for fees (including trust funds). Initially, and at six-month intervals, Segal shall provide proof to the monitor of the existence of a trust account for any client retainers, advance fees or other funds held for clients or third parties arising from his law practice. The monitor need not audit Segal’s accounts or finances, but should determine whether Segal has a ledger or other system which reasonably appears to accomplish Segal’s safeguarding and accounting obligations under Colo. RPC 1.15 or similar rules in other jurisdictions. If the monitor has any unresolved concerns about Segal’s financial accounting, the monitor should notify the Attorney Regulation Counsel, which may investigate further or suggest resolution of the concerns. Segal is responsible for providing complete and accurate information to the monitor, understanding that the effectiveness of the monitor’s oversight depends on the information provided by Segal;

(5) The one year period of monitoring applies regardless of the date Segal returns to the practice of law;

(6) The monitor shall notify the Attorney Regulation Counsel of any concerns requiring more extensive monitoring. Segal shall comply with any increased monitoring requirements directed by the monitor or the Attorney Regulation Counsel;

(7) The monitor will notify the Attorney Regulation Counsel of any serious deficiencies in Segal’s capability to handle the current or an increased caseload, or capability to handle a particular case. The monitor need not investigate the deficiencies fully, but may request further investigation by the Attorney Regulation Counsel;

(8) The monitoring shall be at Segal’s own expense;

(9) The monitor will take into account Segal’s geographical location in setting the schedule and conditions for review and deciding upon a telephonic or an in-person conference;

(10) The monitor shall send the Attorney Regulation Counsel a letter report monthly to summarize the monitor’s actions to meet the responsibility under the monitoring agreement. The monitor should note Segal’s compliance with the calendaring, tickling, accounting and other requirements set forth under this monitoring plan. Any issues or concerns that were addressed by the monitor and Segal, and the resolution of those issues (or the lack of resolution) should be included in the report. The Attorney Regulation Counsel reserves the right to require a more detailed written or oral report from the monitor, or to conduct an investigation of Segal’s compliance with the conditions;

(11) The monitor is not expected to provide substantive legal advice to Segal about any of his cases or any legal issues pertaining to his cases. Segal understands that he must make his own decisions about each case, and may need to associate with a more experienced attorney in a particular area. The monitor cannot serve as a consultant on the handling of cases;

(12) Segal shall ensure that appropriate releases are obtained to allow the monitor to review any of Segal’s files that the monitor believes may be necessary in carrying out the monitoring functions, although it is not anticipated that the monitor will be required to do this if Segal provides accurate timelines and summaries. If the monitor believes that it is necessary to discuss information with Segal that otherwise may be subject to the attorney-client privilege between Segal and his client(s) then Segal shall ensure that appropriate client releases are sought promptly and shall confer with the monitor in advance on the language of the releases;

(13) Segal shall hold the monitor harmless from any claims of malpractice by his clients. As noted above, Segal is solely responsible for providing appropriate legal services for each client, and Segal specifically agrees to this.

(14) If the approved monitor is no longer willing or able to serve as a monitor, the monitor should notify Segal and Attorney Regulation Counsel promptly and in writing. Segal is responsible for providing an alternate candidate for consideration by Attorney Regulation Counsel within ten (10) days of receipt of the monitor’s written notice.

B. Segal shall complete two Continuing Legal Education courses within the next eighteen months which focus on the Colorado Rules of Professional Conduct and law office management;

C. Segal shall not practice as a solo practitioner during the period of probation;

D. Segal shall continue the counseling and therapy sessions he is presently engaged in during the period of probation, unless earlier terminated upon the written recommendation of his treating counselor/ therapist.

EXHIBIT 1

COMPLAINT

THIS COMPLAINT is filed pursuant to the authority of C.R.C.P. 251.9 through 251.14, and it is alleged as follows:

The respondent has taken and subscribed the oath of admission, was admitted to the bar of this court on May 23, 1996, and is registered upon the official records of this court, registration No. 26867. He is subject to the jurisdiction of this court in these disciplinary proceedings. The respondent’s registered business address is 1200 Madison, #654, Denver, Colorado 80206, 303-778-0921.

The Mares Matter, 00-01491

On November 30, 1999, the respondent was suspended from the practice of law in the State of Colorado for failing to pay his attorney registration fees.

On December 3, 1999, while suspended from the practice of law, respondent appeared in Colorado State District Court on behalf of Mr. Rodriguez in a single proceeding involving three separate criminal matters. At that proceeding, Mr. Rodriguez waived his right to a preliminary hearing and a plea hearing was scheduled for December 21, 1999. The minute order from the December 3 proceeding indicated that respondent entered his appearance on behalf of Mr. Rodriguez on that date.

On December 21, 1999, the respondent again appeared on behalf of Mr. Rodriguez in a single proceeding in involving the three criminal matters. A motions hearing was scheduled for February 1, 2000.

On December 23, 1999, the respondent was reinstated to the practice of law.

On January 10, 2000, respondent filed a written entry of appearance on behalf of Mr. Rodriguez.

On February 1, 2, and 18, 2000, respondent failed to appear at scheduled court appearances on behalf of Mr. Rodriguez. Respondent failed to file any motions to withdraw in the three matters.

On March 28, 2000, Mr. Rodriguez was allowed to change his plea and request a preliminary hearing, because at the time he had waived his right to a preliminary hearing and entered his plea he’d been represented by respondent who was under suspension.

CLAIM I

All prior averments are incorporated herein.

Respondent violated Colo. RPC 5.5(a) and C.R.C.P. 251.5(c) by practicing law in the State of Colorado while his license to do so was suspended.

WHEREFORE, complainant seeks relief as set forth more fully below.

CLAIM II

The averments of paragraphs 1 through 8 are incorporated herein.

Respondent’s failure to appear on behalf of Mr. Rodriguez at three separate court appearances violated Colo. RPC 1.3 and 8.4(d).

WHEREFORE, complainant seeks relief as set forth more fully below.

CLAIM III

The averments of paragraphs 1 through 8 are incorporated herein.

Respondent violated Colo. RPC 8.4(d) by appearing in court on behalf of Mr. Rodriguez at the time respondent’s license to practice law in Colorado had been suspended and, at that time, taking action on Mr. Rodriguez’ behalf which required subsequent court proceedings to correct.

WHEREFORE, complainant seeks relief as set forth more fully below.

CLAIM IV

The averments of paragraphs 1 through 8 are incorporated herein.

After he was suspended from the practice of law, respondent failed to give notice to his clients as required by C.R.C.P. 251.8(b), failed to give notice to parties in litigation as required by C.R.C.P. 251.8(c), and failed to file an affidavit with the Supreme Court as required by C.R.C.P. 251.28(d). Each of respondent’s violations of C.R.C.P. 251.28 constitutes a violation of Colo. RPC 3.4(c) and 251.5(c).

WHEREFORE, complainant seeks relief as set forth more fully below.

The Benjamin Matter, 00-00969

On March 3, 1999, Mr. Benjamin was involved in a "road rage" incident with a person named Sian Martins. Benjamin was alleged to have thrown a bottle at Ms. Martins’ car. Benjamin was alleged to have left the scene of the incident. Martins’ reported Benjamin’s license plate to the Aurora Police, who responded to the scene and observed broken glass at the scene of the incident. Thereafter, the police tried to contact Benjamin at his home. Initially, Benjamin was not at home and police left information with Benjamin’s girlfriend. Benjamin subsequently contacted respondent and the respondent came to Benjamin’s home and was present when the police returned later that evening to interview Benjamin regarding the incident.

Respondent did not inform the officer who interviewed Benjamin at his home that he was representing Benjamin. The respondent was dressed in a t-shirt and jeans, and the officer assumed that the respondent was a visitor or resident at Benjamin’s home.

At the conclusion of the interview, the officer issued Benjamin a citation and complaint for reckless driving and injury to property.

Benjamin’s first appearance date was April 15, 1999. Respondent appeared with Benjamin and entered his appearance as Benjamin’s attorney in the matter. Benjamin was arraigned, plead not guilty, and the matter was set directly for jury trial on June 10, 1999.

At trial, the police officer who had interviewed Benjamin at his home while respondent was present testified concerning the interview. The police officer testified that the respondent was never introduced to her as Benjamin’s attorney.

On the following day, the trial reconvened. At the beginning of the proceedings, respondent requested a mistrial, claiming that: "The police officer that was testifying was testifying about statements that were made in my presence. Several other statements were flat out lies. It goes against my personal knowledge . . ." Respondent stated, further: "I was present there, Mr. Benjamin introduced me as his attorney . . ." This was the first time the respondent disclosed his presence at the police interview to the court or the county attorney. The court inquired of the respondent what his testimony would be if he were to testify, and respondent stated that he would testify that the "testimony of the officer was false and that there was no mention of alcohol [made by Benjamin during the interview]" and that there was "no glass in the road." The court denied respondent’s motion for mistrial. Thereafter, during closing argument, respondent stated to the jury:

"There were comments made by the police officer that he [Benjamin] drank, that he acknowledged drinking that night. And no, it is not relevant to the facts as the judge advised. It is relevant to the fact that this was a conscious [sick] and deliberate attempt by this police officer sitting right here to draw another link, a false link, a lie. It is a flat-out-lie. You heard testimony that I was present in the home for the purpose of advising Mr. Benjamin, not as his friend, that Mr. Benjamin called me, that I am present in there. She is lying."

Further, respondent stated to the jury that the police officer’s testimony was "complete and utter lies."

CLAIM V

The averments of paragraphs 1, and 17 through 22, are incorporated herein.

Respondent violated Colo. RPC 3.4(e) by asserting personal knowledge of facts in issue, and by stating his personal opinion as to the credibility of the police officer, at the trial of the Benjamin matter.

WHEREFORE, complainant seeks relief as set forth more fully below.

The Medina Matter, 00-02256

During 1998, Ms. Shirley Medina contracted with a builder to put a modular home on some land she had purchased. The builder breached the contract and placed a substantial lien of over $70,000.00 on Medina’s land.

In September 1998, Medina paid respondent a $1,000.00 retainer to assist her in getting the lien removed from the property. Medina was referred to the respondent by Mr. Jerry Aragon, who worked as an investigator with the respondent. In September 1998, respondent requested that Ms. Medina give her construction documents to Mr. Aragon; Mr. Aragon was going to conduct investigation for the respondent. Thereafter, for the next six months, respondent told Medina that "things are moving along fine." By May of 1999, Medina had difficulty communicating with the respondent. The respondent’s cell phone number had changed and the telephone number she had for the respondent was not in service. Thereafter, Medina called Aragon in attempt to retrieve her paperwork. Respondent had told Medina that Aragon had her paperwork, but Aragon told Medina that respondent had her construction paperwork.

In July 1999, Medina obtained a new telephone number for the respondent. Having become disappointed in the respondent’s lack of interest in pursuing the case, Medina requested her file back. In response, the respondent agreed to find her file and finish her case.

On July 9, 1999, respondent returned Medina’s file to her. The file was damaged by water and her original contract with the modular home builder was missing. The respondent reported to Medina when he retuned the file to her that if he needed the contract to resolve the matter, he would obtain a copy from the homebuilder. Further, the respondent told Medina that he had discussed the matter with an attorney for the builder, and that the builder would agree to release the lien against her property if she would agree to release the builder from all liability.

In March 2000, the respondent told Medina that he had some papers for her to sign, and that the land would then be hers free and clear, and the case would be resolved. Respondent told Medina that he would send the paperwork to her by mail. Medina waited three weeks, but did not receive anything from the respondent. Medina then began attempting to reach the respondent by telephone by calling him everyday for about four weeks. Respondent never returned any of her telephone messages.

In April 2000, Medina was finally able to make contact with the respondent by telephone. Respondent told her that he had sent the paperwork to her, but that he might have sent the paperwork to her sister’s address, and that he would bring the papers to her home for her to sign. Thereafter, the complainant did not hear from the respondent.

CLAIM VI

The averments of paragraphs 1 and 25 through 30 are incorporated herein.

Respondent neglected Medina’s dispute with the homebuilder in violation of Colo. RPC 1.3.

WHEREFORE, complainant seeks relief as set forth more fully below.

CLAIM VII

The averments of paragraph 1 and 25 through 30 are incorporated herein.

Respondent failed to communicate with Medina concerning the status of her matter in violation of Colo. RPC 1.4(a).

WHEREFORE, complainant seeks relief as set forth more fully below.

The Russell Matter, 00-04069

Respondent represented Kevin Loggins on criminal charges in People v. Kevin E. Loggins, Case No. 97CR3532, in Arapahoe County District Court. On September 14, 2000, Mr. Loggins was scheduled to be sentenced following his conviction for 2nd degree burglary, a class three felony, and criminal mischief, a class four felony. Respondent failed to appear for the sentencing, and the matter was reset until October 12, 2000.

On October 12, 2000, the respondent again failed to appear.

The minute order of that day reflects that the "Div.staff has attempted to contact attorney to advise of new date." The matter was rescheduled to November 13, 2000. Respondent appeared approximately three hours late at the November proceeding.

The complainant states that respondent had knowledge of each of the sentencing dates at which he failed to appear.

When respondent appeared in November, a December date was scheduled. Respondent appeared on time in December. Loggins was then sentenced.

CLAIM VIII

The averments of paragraphs 1 and 35 through 39 are incorporated herein.

Respondent violated Colo. RPC 1.3 by neglecting Mr. Loggins’ matter.

WHEREFORE, complainant seeks relief as set forth more fully below.

CLAIM IX

The averments of paragraphs 1 and 35 through 39 are incorporated herein.

Respondent engaged in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice by failing to appear for Mr. Loggin’s sentencing, as described above, in violation of Colo. RPC 8.4(d).

WHEREFORE, complainant seeks relief as set forth more fully below.

The Huckin Matter, 00-04328

Respondent represented Charlotte Huckin on drug charges in People v. Charlotte Huckin, Case No. 00-CR1305, in Denver District Court.

In June of 2000, Ms. Huckin was charged with drug possession. In July of 2000, Ms. Huckin retained the respondent and paid him $600.00 to represent her. Respondent represented Ms. Huckin during initial stages of the matter. However, Ms. Huckin failed to appear at a proceeding scheduled in the case.

Subsequently, Ms. Huckin was charged with other crimes in Arapahoe County and was represented by court-appointed counsel, Michael Andre. Mr. Andre then agreed to represent Ms. Huckin in the Denver drug court matter in which respondent was representing her.

In November and December 2000, Huckin’s mother attempted to contact respondent at his business and cell telephone numbers. Respondent’s business telephone number was disconnected. Huckin’s mother was attempting to reach the respondent to request that he withdraw from Huckin’s pending criminal matter in Denver, since Mr. Andre agreed to represent Ms. Huckin in that matter.

On November 30, December 1, December 4, and December 5, 2000, Mr. Andre left messages on the respondent’s voice mail. Respondent failed to return Mr. Andre’s calls, or to make any efforts to contact Huckin concerning the substance of Mr. Andre’s calls or her legal status, generally.

On or about December 6, 2000, Mr. Andre filed a motion for substitution of counsel and a motion to set a sentencing hearing in the Denver District Court matter. On December 7, 2000, Mr. Andre’s motion was granted.

Respondent had never filed a motion to withdraw as counsel for Ms. Huckin in the Denver District Court matter.

CLAIM X

All the averments of paragraphs 1 and 44 through 50 are incorporated herein.

Respondent violated Colo. RPC 1.3 by neglecting the Huckin matter.

WHEREFORE, it is prayed that the respondent be found guilty of violations of various rules of conduct which establish grounds for discipline as provided in C.R.C.P. 251.5, and the Colorado Rules of Professional Conduct and that he be appropriately disciplined and assessed the costs of these proceedings.

EXHIBIT 2

COMPLAINT

THIS COMPLAINT is filed pursuant to the authority of C.R.C.P. 251.9 through 251.14, and it is alleged as follows:

The respondent has taken and subscribed the oath of admission, was admitted to the bar of this court on May 23, 1996, and is registered upon the official records of this court, registration No. 26867. He is subject to the jurisdiction of this court in these disciplinary proceedings. The respondent’s registered business address is 1200 Madison, #654, Denver, Colorado 80206, and his registered home address is 3725 South Lincoln, Englewood, Colorado 80110.

Rhonda Davis hired respondent to represent her in connection with a contempt citation filed against her and concerning post-decree child custody issues in a dissolution of marriage action. Davis retained respondent in July or August of 1999 and paid him a $400.00 retainer at that time.

Respondent appeared with Davis at a hearing of the contempt citation in August, 2000. The citation was dismissed. Davis then asked respondent to set a hearing date on a Motion to Modify Child Custody that was pending. Respondent did not set the motion for hearing.

For months thereafter, Davis attempted to contact respondent by telephone, but was unable. Davis would constantly leave messages for respondent, but respondent would not return them.

On December 13, or December 14, 2000, Davis left respondent a telephone message stating that she was terminating his services and requesting that he return any unearned fees. Thereafter, respondent returned Davis’ telephone message and requested a meeting, which was scheduled.

Respondent failed to appear for the scheduled meeting. Accordingly, Davis’ husband left respondent a voice-mail message on December 18, 2000, reiterating the fact that respondent was terminated as Davis’ attorney.

Davis hired new counsel to represent her in the domestic relations matters.

Respondent failed to respond to the request for investigation in this matter after it was mailed to his registered addresses.

CLAIM I

All prior averments are incorporated herein.

Respondent neglected Davis’ legal matter, in violation of Colo. RPC 1.3.

Wherefore, complainant seeks relief as set forth more fully below.

CLAIM II

All prior averments are incorporated herein.

Respondent failed to communicate with Davis concerning the status of her legal matter and failed to promptly return her reasonable requests for information, in violation of Colo. RPC 1.4(a).

Wherefore, complainant seeks relief as set forth more fully below.

CLAIM III

All prior averments are incorporated herein.

Respondent failed to return property and unearned fees to Davis at the time he was terminated as her attorney, in violation of Colo. RPC 1.16(d).

Wherefore, complainant seeks relief as set forth more fully below.

CLAIM IV

All prior averments are incorporated herein.

Respondent violated Colo. RPC 3.4(c) and 8.1(b), by failing to respond to the request for investigation in this matter, contrary to the mandates of C.R.C.P. 251.10(a).

WHEREFORE, it is prayed that the respondent be found guilty of violations of various rules of conduct which establish grounds for discipline as provided in C.R.C.P. 251.5, and the Colorado Rules of Professional Conduct and that he be appropriately disciplined and assessed the costs of these proceedings.

_______

1. Default was granted on C.R.C.P. 251.5(c) on Segal’s failure to comply with the notice provisions of C.R.C.P. 251.28(d), requiring him to file an affidavit with the Supreme Court upon being administratively suspended, and default was denied on all other grounds; i.e., that no allegation of state of mind with regard to Segal’s violation of Colo. RPC 3.4(c) as grounds for discipline under C.R.C.P. 251.5(c) was pled in the Complaint.

2. Default was granted as to Segal asserting his personal knowledge of the facts in issue in the course of trial, and denied as to Segal stating his personal opinion on the credibility of a witness.

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