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TCL > April 1997 Issue > Summaries of Opinions

The Colorado Lawyer
April 1997
Vol. 26, No. 4 [Page  105]

© 1997 The Colorado Lawyer and Colorado Bar Association. All Rights Reserved.

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From the Courts
Colorado Disciplinary Cases

Summaries of Opinions

Table1

(through January 1997)

Requests for investigation filed in 1996 136
Docketed for investigation 9
Not docketed for investigation 18
Review in progress 109
In abeyance 0
Cases dismissed by the inquiry panels in 1997 5
Letters of admonition sent in 1997 3
Cases in which reasonable cause was found in 1997 5
Cases pending before the inquiry panels on 02/03/97 300
1Figures supplied by the Office of Disciplinary Counsel.

 

Column Ed.: James P. Hollaway, Committee Coun-sel, Denver—(303) 893-3393

The Grievance Committee’s office is located at the Dominion Plaza, 600 17th St., Suite 920 S, Denver, CO 80202-5435. “Grievances” or requests for investigation are filed with the Office of Disciplinary Counsel, located at the Dominion Plaza, 600 17th St., Suite 510 S, Denver, CO 80202-5435. Telephone: (303) 893-8121.

Public disciplinary and disability decisions are listed below. Decisions issued by opinion appear in their entirety in the Colorado Supreme Court "Opinions" section of The Colorado Lawyer. Public disciplinary decisions involving issues that are not routine are summarized below, together with all private censures and, when space permits, selected admonishments. Occasionally, articles will appear in this space in lieu of summaries or with fewer of them.

Public Decisions

Robert F. Bates: On January 13, 1997, the Supreme Court suspended the respondent for six months, effective thirty days after the issuance of its Opinion. The court ordered the respondent to petition for reinstatement before being reinstated. Costs of $47.75 were assessed against him.

Eugene A. Steinman: On October 26, 1995, the respondent was suspended from the practice of law, pursuant to C.R.C.P. 241.8. On January 13, 1997, the Supreme Court disbarred the respondent, effective immediately. The court ordered the respondent to make restitution prior to any application for readmission, and assessed costs of $1,446.20 against him.

Private Discipline

Attorney A: On January 2, 1997, the Supreme Court privately censured a lawyer and assessed costs of $48.23 against him, following its approval of his conditional admission of misconduct.

The lawyers professional misconduct arose from his representation of a client in a dissolution of marriage proceeding. The lawyer failed to appear personally at the temporary orders hearing; failed to advise his client adequately and timely that he would not personally appear at the hearing; did not take reasonable steps to ensure compliance with the court-ordered custody evaluation or seek relief from the order; did not surrender the papers and property his client was entitled to upon termination of his representation; and asserted an improper retaining lien against the clients files.

The lawyer admitted violating R.P.C. 1.3, R.P.C. 1.4(a), R.P.C. 1.16(d), and R.P.C. 8.4(d) (engaging in conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice).

Considering the extent of the misconduct, the court noted that it was a close question as to whether private discipline was adequate in this case. The court decided to accept the inquiry panels recommendation of a private censure because of the existence of substantial factors in mitigation: (1) the lawyer had not been disciplined previously in over thirty-five years of practice; (2) he was experiencing personal and emotional problems at the time of the misconduct; (3) he evidenced a cooperative attitude toward the disciplinary proceedings; (4) he has good character and reputation; and (5) he demonstrated remorse.

Attorney B: An inquiry panel of the Grievance Committee admonished a lawyer on June 12, 1996, for violating R.P.C. 7.3(a) by telephoning a prospective client and soliciting em-ployment from him. The lawyer had no prior attorney-client relationship with the individual, and the contact was solely for the lawyers pecuniary gain. The lawyer also violated R.P.C. 1.7(b) by failing to disclose to the prospective client that the lawyers law firm had a conflict that would arise if the prospective client retained the lawyer.

Attorney C: An inquiry panel of the Grievance Committee admonished a lawyer on August 13, 1996, for violating R.P.C. 8.4(d) (engaging in conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice). The lawyer failed to pay a doctor for a consultation in a possible malpractice case. The lawyer had hired the doctor and was obligated to pay him regardless of whether the client paid the lawyer or reimbursed the lawyer for costs. The panel noted that the lawyer failed to pay the doctor even after being urged to do so by the bars Inter-professional Committee.

Attorney D: An inquiry panel of the Grievance Committee admonished a lawyer on August 13, 1996, for violating R.P.C. 1.3 and R.P.C. 1.4(a). The lawyer neglected a legal matter entrusted to him when he failed to file a motion to enforce permanent orders. The lawyer received a retainer in early June 1995 but failed to take any action until mid-September. The lawyer also failed to respond to his clients reasonable requests for information during that period.

Attorney E: An inquiry panel of the Grievance Committee approved a lawyers conditional admission of misconduct and admonished him on August 13, 1996. The lawyer tape-recorded conversations with the spouse of a client without the spouses knowledge or permission. Citing People v. Selby, 198 Colo. 386, 606 P.2d 45 (1979), the panel noted that surreptitious recording of conversations suggests trickery and deceit, and found that, as admitted, the lawyer violated R.P.C. 8.4(c) and (g) (engaged in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation, and engaged in conduct which violates accepted standards of legal ethics).

Attorney F: An inquiry panel of the Grievance Committee admonished a lawyer on September 10, 1996, for violating R.P.C. 1.6(a) by revealing information to another lawyer relating to the representation of his clients, without their consent. The admonished lawyer produced his entire file concerning his representation of two clients to counsel for a party adverse to the lawyers clients. Although the lawyer was no longer representing the clients at the time counsel for an adverse party requested his file, he still was under obligation to protect the information he had obtained during the course of his representation.

The panel noted that the lawyer intended to produce only that portion of his file that he did not consider privileged. The panel reminded the lawyer that R.P.C. 1.6 requires lawyers to protect all information relating to the representation without regard to its nature or source, or the fact that others share the information.

 

© 1997 The Colorado Lawyer and Colorado Bar Association. All Rights Reserved. Material from The Colorado Lawyer provided via this World Wide Web server is protected by the copyright laws of the United States and may not be reproduced in any way or medium without permission. This material also is subject to the disclaimers at http://www.cobar.org/tcl/disclaimer.cfm?year=1997.


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