Vol. 31, No. 7
From the Courts
Colorado Disciplinary Cases
Summaries of Opinions
Summaries of Decisions Issued by the Presiding Disciplinary Judge
(Through May 17, 2002)
People v. Hassan, No. 01PDJ039, 5/17/02. Attorney Regulation.
The Hearing Board suspended Thomas F. Hassan from the practice of law for a period of eighteen months. Respondent represented one client in a workers’ compensation claim. Respondent had no written or verbal fee agreement and did not timely bill the client for services. Respondent obtained a settlement on the workers’ compensation matter, drafted a fee agreement providing that respondent would receive a percentage of the settlement, and signed the client’s name to the fee agreement without the client’s authorization. Respondent retained the percentage of the settlement, believing these fees were owed to him, without providing a settlement statement to the client. In the second matter, respondent represented a client with regard to a wrongful termination claim. Pursuant to the parties’ contingent fee agreement, respondent was entitled to receive a certain percentage of the recovery. Respondent failed to provide his client with a settlement statement or the proceeds of settlement, believing that he was owed additional funds for advice he rendered on another matter, although there was no agreement between the parties as to payment. In a third matter, respondent deposited a client’s retainer into his personal account, believing he had, at the time, performed legal work in excess of the amount paid in legal services. Thereafter, respondent failed to respond to his client’s inquiries about the status of the claim and failed to take any action on his client’s behalf. Respondent’s conduct violated Colo. RPC 8.1(a), Colo. RPC 8.4(c), Colo. RPC 1.5(c), Colo. RPC 1.3, and Colo. RPC 1.4(a). Respondent was ordered to pay restitution and costs of the proceedings. p.173.
Summaries of Decisions Regarding Conditional Admissions of Misconduct
Issued by the Presiding Disciplinary Judge
(Through May 9, 2002)
[The Presiding Disciplinary Judge’s approval of Conditional Admissions of Misconduct does not result in a written opinion but only a brief order, which does not constitute precedent. Conditional Admissions of Misconduct are public record and are available for review at the Office of the Presiding Disciplinary Judge, 600 17th St., Suite 510-South, Denver, CO 80202; (303) 825-2797. They are also available on Lexis-Nexis® at www.lexis.com/research by clicking on States Legal U.S./Colorado/Cases and Court Rules/By Court/Colorado Supreme Court Disciplinary Opinions.]
People v. Keuling, No. 02PDJ010, 4/29/02. Attorney Regulation.
The Presiding Disciplinary Judge approved the parties’ Conditional Admission of Misconduct and suspended Respondent Edgar L. Keuling from the practice of law for a period of sixty days, all stayed, with a one-year period of probation subject to conditions. Respondent charged a client excessive fees, in violation of Colo. RPC 1.5. Respondent was ordered to pay restitution and the costs of the disciplinary proceeding.
People v. Patterson, No. 02PDJ021, 5/09/02. Attorney Regulation.
The Presiding Disciplinary Judge approved the parties’ Conditional Admission of Misconduct and suspended Respondent Arthur E. Patterson from the practice of law for a period of one year and one day, for misconduct arising from five separate matters. In the first matter, the client engaged the respondent to prepare and file a petition for dissolution of marriage. Respondent prepared the petition and served it on the opposing party, but failed to file it with the court. Believing the petition had been filed, the client tendered payment of costs. Thereafter, despite the client’s attempts to communicate with respondent, respondent failed to respond or otherwise comply promptly with the client’s requests for information, and failed to keep the client reasonably informed about the status of the case. Respondent’s conduct violated Colo. RPC 1.4(a) and Colo. RPC 1.16(d). In a second matter, following a permanent orders hearing, respondent neglected to take action by failing to approve the proposed order, provide his input, or send the order to his client, resulting in the client’s incurring additional attorney fees, in violation of Colo. RPC 1.3 and Colo. RPC 1.4(a). Following termination, respondent failed to timely return the client’s file when requested, in violation of Colo. RPC 1.16(d). In a third matter, respondent received a proposed order resulting from a permanent orders hearing from opposing counsel. Respondent failed to take any action on the order, in violation of Colo. RPC 1.3. In a fourth matter, following mediation, opposing counsel tendered a signed settlement agreement to respondent, who thereafter failed to communicate with the client and took no action on behalf of the client with regard to the agreement in violation of Colo. RPC 1.3 and Colo. RPC 1.4(a), causing opposing counsel to seek court enforcement of the settlement agreement. The court granted the motion and ordered respondent to pay for opposing counsel’s attorney fees within a certain time period. Respondent’s failure to do so violated Colo. RPC 3.4(c). In a fifth matter, the client hired respondent to handle post dissolution matters. Respondent failed to file motions with the court in violation of Colo. RPC 1.3. When the husband failed to comply with an agreement, respondent took no action to require his compliance. Thereafter, respondent failed to appear at a hearing in violation of Colo. RPC 1.3 and Colo. RPC 1.4(a). Respondent was ordered to pay restitution and the costs of the disciplinary proceeding.
People v. Scungio, No. 02PDJ009, 5/09/02. Attorney Regulation.
The Presiding Disciplinary Judge approved the parties’ Conditional Admission of Misconduct in this reciprocal discipline matter from the state of Rhode Island and disbarred Respondent John A. Scungio from the practice of law in the state of Colorado. Respondent was disbarred in the state of Rhode Island for making false statements of material fact to a federal agent, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1001 (2002), constituting grounds for discipline pursuant to C.R.C.P. 251.5(b), and a violation of Colo. RPC 8.4(b). Specifically, respondent knowingly and willfully made materially false statements and representations to special agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, in which he denied that the Chairman of the Board of Tax Assessment Review received any money in exchange for arranging a reduction of the taxpayer’s property taxes when, in fact, respondent had delivered to the chairman a sum of cash that respondent had received from his client to be distributed among the chairman and others. Respondent also denied knowing how the client taxpayer had learned about and come to hire respondent for services relating to the taxpayer’s application for a tax reduction when, in fact, as respondent knew, the taxpayer had been sent to him by and at the direction of the chairman. Respondent was ordered to pay the costs of the disciplinary proceeding.
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