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TCL > August 2002 Issue > Summaries of Opinions

The Colorado Lawyer
August 2002
Vol. 31, No. 8 [Page  107]

© 2002 The Colorado Lawyer and Colorado Bar Association. All Rights Reserved.

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From the Courts
Colorado Disciplinary Cases

Summaries of Opinions

Summaries of Decisions Issued by the Presiding Disciplinary Judge
(Through June 11, 2002)

 

People v. Daitzman, No. 01PDJ034 (consolidated with 01PDJ059), 6/11/02.

Attorney Disbarred. The Hearing Board disbarred Respondent Lynn Daitzman, attorney registration number 21331, from the practice of law, following a sanctions hearing in this consolidated matter. In one matter, Daitzman represented a client in a post-decree dissolution of marriage. She failed to respond to a motion regarding parenting time, failed to advise the client that the motion had been filed, and failed to appear at a status conference, constituting neglect, in violation of Colo. RPC 1.3. Respondent failed to return phone calls from the client and opposing counsel, in violation of Colo. RPC 1.4(a). The extent of Daitzman’s neglect rose to the level of "abandonment" of the client. When terminated by the client, Daitzman failed to take steps to protect the client’s interests, in violation of Colo. RPC 1.16(d). Daitzman failed to respond to the request for information from the Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel, in violation of Colo. RPC 8.1(b). In a separate matter, Daitzman was employed by a client with an urgent need for legal representation in a child custody matter. Daitzman accepted a retainer, deposited the retainer into her personal account, and withdrew the funds shortly thereafter for her personal use, constituting knowing conversion, in violation of Colo. RPC 8.4(c). As a result of Daitzman’s arriving late to a hearing on the client’s restraining order, the client’s matter was dismissed. Daitzman thereafter took no action on behalf of the client, constituting neglect rising to the level of abandonment, in violation of Colo. RPC 1.3. Daitzman failed to contact her client over an eight-month period, in violation of Colo. RPC 1.4(a), despite repeated efforts to contact her. Disbarment was effective thirty-one days from the date of the Court’s Order. Daitzman was ordered to pay restitution and the costs of the disciplinary proceeding. p.109.

 

Summaries of Decisions Regarding Conditional Admissions of Misconduct
Issued by the Presiding Disciplinary Judge
(Through June 11, 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. Bianca, No. 02PDJ033, 6/11/02.

Attorney Suspended for Sixty Days—Suspension Stayed Subject to Conditions. The Presiding Disciplinary Judge approved the parties’ Conditional Admission of Misconduct and suspended Respondent Briana Bianca, attorney registration number 22581, from the practice of law for a period of sixty days, all stayed upon successful completion of a one-year period of probation subject to conditions. With regard to four separate client matters, respondent neglected to take action on behalf of her clients, in violation of Colo. RPC 1.3, and failed to return phone calls or communicate adequately with her clients, despite their efforts to contact her, in violation of Colo. RPC 1.4(a). With regard to three matters, respondent failed to pay court reporters for services they had rendered to respondent, in violation of Colo. RPC 1.15(b). Mitigating factors included absence of prior discipline and personal and emotional problems. Respondent was ordered to pay the costs of the disciplinary proceeding within thirty days of the Order.

People v. Gunther, No. 02PDJ040, 6/11/02.

Attorney Suspended for Six Months—Suspension Stayed Subject to Conditions. The Presiding Disciplinary Judge approved the parties’ Conditional Admission of Misconduct and suspended Respondent Dennis H. Gunther, attorney registration number 03427, from the practice of law for a period of six months, with the full period of suspension stayed during a two-year period of probation subject to conditions. Respondent failed to maintain adequate accounting records, in violation of Colo. RPC 1.15(g)(1) and (2), and failed to hold client property separate from his own property, in violation of Colo. RPC 1.15(a). Respondent violated Colo. RPC 4.2 by communicating directly with an opposing party when he knew the party was represented by counsel. Respondent was ordered to pay the costs of the disciplinary proceeding.

People v. Long IV, No. 02PDJ030, 6/11/02.

Attorney Suspended for Thirty Days—Suspension Stayed Subject to Conditions. The Presiding Disciplinary Judge approved the parties’ Conditional Admission of Misconduct and suspended Respondent William H. Long IV, attorney registration number 00083, from the practice of law for a period of thirty days, all stayed during a one-year period of probation. Respondent violated Colo. RPC 5.5(a) by practicing law while under administrative suspension arising from his having failed to comply with mandatory continuing legal education requirements. Respondent was ordered to pay the costs of the disciplinary proceeding within thirty days of the date of the Order.

People v. Meiklejohn, No. 02PDJ032, 6/11/02.

Attorney Disbarred. The Presiding Disciplinary Judge approved the parties’ Conditional Admission of Misconduct and disbarred Respondent Scott A. Meiklejohn, attorney registration number 16110, from the practice of law. Respondent represented a client in a personal injury lawsuit. The workers’ compensation carrier had a subrogation interest in the case. The parties entered into a settlement, and the respondent agreed that he would deposit the check into his trust account and promptly issue checks to the workers’ compensation carrier and the client thereafter. Several months passed and the carrier and client had not received their payment. When respondent ultimately paid the client and carrier, the checks initially were returned for insufficient funds. The check to the client ultimately cleared and the respondent eventually paid the carrier with his own funds. Through his unauthorized exercise of dominion and control over client and third party funds, the respondent violated Colo. RPC 8.4(c). Disbarment was effective thirty-one days from the date of the Order, and respondent was ordered to pay the costs of the disciplinary proceeding within thirty days.

People v. Richardson, No. 02PDJ026, 6/11/02.

Attorney Suspended for Thirty Days—Suspension Stayed Subject to Conditions. The Presiding Disciplinary Judge approved the parties’ Conditional Admission of Misconduct and suspended Respondent Russell W. Richardson, attorney registration number 06232, from the practice of law for a period of thirty days, all stayed during a one-year period of probation subject to conditions. In one matter, respondent engaged in neglect by failing to file disclosures, failing to prepare a settlement statement, failing to bring a cross-claim on behalf of his client and failing to respond to a pending motion to annul a stay in bankruptcy, in violation of Colo. RPC 1.3. Respondent violated Colo. RPC 1.7(b) by representing two parties with adverse interests. Respondent was ordered to pay the costs of the disciplinary proceeding within thirty days of the Order.

People v. Rivera, No. 01PDJ092, consolidated with No. 02PDJ004, 6/11/02.

Attorney Suspended for Two Years—Suspension Stayed Subject to Conditions. The Presiding Disciplinary Judge approved the parties’ Conditional Admission of Misconduct and suspended Respondent Jennifer A. Rivera, attorney registration number 13439, from the practice of law for a period of two years, all stayed during a two-year period of probation subject to conditions. Respondent utilized a fee agreement that contained language stating that fees paid to her were not refundable and would not be considered as flat fees if the client did not desire continued representation. The fee agreement also contained language stating that the funds tendered by the clients would be deposited into respondent’s trust account and would remain in trust to be applied against the final billing. With regard to five clients, respondent entered into fee agreements containing the language set forth above, accepted advance retainers from the clients, and deposited the funds into her operating account rather than her trust account. In one matter, respondent earned the full amount of the retainer she received from the client, and kept the unearned portion of the retainer in her operating account. In three other matters, respondent never earned the full amount of the retainers. In another matter, the client terminated the respondent’s representation and respondent did not immediately refund the unearned portion of his retainer when demanded. Respondent failed to keep the funds of her clients separate from her own property, in violation of Colo. RPC 1.15(a). Respondent negligently and temporarily misappropriated funds belonging to her clients, mistakenly relying on the non-refundable provisions of her fee agreements, in violation of Colo. RPC 8.4(c) and Colo. RPC 8.4(h). Respondent’s fee agreements contained the false statements that the clients’ advance retainers would be deposited into her trust account and remain there until applied toward the final billing, and that the fees were non-refundable, constituting violations of Colo. RPC 8.4(c). Respondent was ordered to pay the costs of the disciplinary proceeding.

People v. Waitkus, No. 02PDJ022, 6/11/02.

Attorney Suspended for Six Months—Suspension Stayed Subject to Conditions. The Presiding Disciplinary Judge approved the parties’ Conditional Admission of Misconduct and suspended Respondent Edward S. Waitkus, attorney registration number 14344, from the practice of law for a period of six months, with the full period of suspension stayed during a two-year period of probation subject to conditions. Respondent represented a client on an uninsured motorist claim for personal injury compensation and failed to take any action on behalf of the client for a three-year period, in violation of Colo. RPC 1.3. The client terminated respondent’s representation and was later notified by the client’s replacement counsel of the potential professional malpractice claim. Despite his knowledge that the former client had hired replacement counsel, respondent met with the former client to discuss the malpractice claim, in violation of Colo. RPC 4.2. Respondent was ordered to pay the costs of the disciplinary proceeding.

People v. Wayne, No. 02PDJ047, 6/11/02.

Attorney Suspended for Twenty-four Months—Twenty Months of Suspension Stayed Subject to Conditions. The Presiding Disciplinary Judge approved the parties’ Conditional Admission of Misconduct and suspended Respondent Lisa M. Wayne, attorney registration number 15676, from the practice of law for a period of twenty-four months, twenty months stayed during a two-year period of probation subject to conditions. Respondent negligently misappropriated a cost retainer and utilized it to pay refunds to two clients, in violation of Colo. RPC 8.4(c), and failed to maintain client ledgers, in violation of Colo. RPC 1.15(g) and Colo. RPC 8.4(h). Respondent was ordered to pay the costs of the disciplinary proceeding.

© 2002 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=2002.


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