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TCL > September 2002 Issue > Summaries of Opinions

September 2002       Vol. 31, No. 9       Page  125
From the Courts
Colorado Disciplinary Cases

Summaries of Opinions

Summaries of Decisions Issued by the Presiding Disciplinary Judge

(Through July 11, 2002)

 

People v. Rishel, No. 01PDJ051 (cons. 01PDJ064), 7/08/02. Attorney Disbarred.

Following a trial in this consolidated matter, the Hearing Board disbarred Respondent John B. Rishel III, attorney registration number 13806, from the practice of law. Respondent held funds tendered to him by third parties who authorized him to use the funds to purchase baseball season tickets. The third parties repeatedly attempted to contact respondent and ultimately demanded return of their funds. Respondent failed to respond to the requests; rather, he utilized the funds for his own purpose, thereby knowingly converting the funds, in violation of Colo. RPC 8.4(c). The Hearing Board found that: (1) respondent knowingly exercised control over the funds when authorization had been withdrawn; (2) demanded that funds be paid by cashier’s check rather than historically acceptable personal checks; (3) failed to respond to communication efforts from the third parties; and (4) delivered one set of tickets to another party rather than to the rightful owner. This conduct provided sufficient evidence to find that respondent knew that his use of the funds was practically certain to result in permanently depriving the third parties of their property, thus constituting theft, in violation of CRS § 18-4-401(1)(b) and Colo. RPC 8.4(b). With regard to one party, respondent violated Colo. RPC 1.15(b) by failing to timely deliver the tickets to the third party or return the funds to them. Respondent was ordered to pay restitution and the costs of the disciplinary proceeding. p.127.

 

Summaries of Decisions Regarding Conditional Admissions of Misconduct

Issued by the Presiding Disciplinary Judge

(Through July 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. Bahr, No. 02PDJ042, 7/01/02. Attorney Suspended.

The Presiding Disciplinary Judge approved the parties’ Conditional Admission of Misconduct and suspended Respondent Michael R. Bahr, attorney registration number 08655, from the practice of law for one year and one day, with all but thirty days stayed subject to conditions with proceedings, pursuant to C.R.C.P. 251.22. Respondent failed to comply with a court order in his divorce proceeding to pay spousal support maintenance, in violation of Colo. RPC 3.4(c). In a second matter, representation of a client, respondent did not fully comply with the provisions of the attorney charging lien statute, in violation of Colo. RPC 8.4(d), and failed to place funds obtained from the lien in an interest-bearing account, in violation of Colo. RPC 1.15(d) and 8.4(d). Additionally, respondent owned a car dealership and pled guilty to one count of violating CRS § 42-6-112 by failing to timely forward the certificate of title to a purchaser, constituting a misdemeanor and grounds for discipline, pursuant to C.R.C.P. 251.5(b). Respondent was ordered to pay restitution and the costs of the disciplinary proceeding.

People v. Coulter, No. 02PDJ020, 7/11/02. Attorney Reinstated.

The Presiding Disciplinary Judge approved the party’s Stipulation and Agreement Concerning Petition for Reinstatement Upon Termination of Disability, and reinstated Petitioner Nancy E. Coulter, attorney registration number 21601, to the practice of law pursuant to C.R.C.P. 251.30, effective immediately. (No Opinion issued.)

People v. Greene, No. 02PDJ037, 6/13/02. Attorney Suspension Stayed Pending Completion of Two-Year Probation.

The Presiding Disciplinary Judge approved the party’s Conditional Admission of Misconduct and suspended Respondent David J. Greene, attorney registration number 08994, from the practice of law for nine months, all stayed upon successful completion of a two-year period of probation subject to conditions. In one matter, respondent failed to maintain funds subject to a Medicaid lien in a separate account. In another matter, respondent tendered funds to the client that were due a provider and were subject to the provider’s lien directly to the client, in violation of Colo. RPC 1.15(a) and (b). Respondent was ordered to pay the costs of the disciplinary proceeding.

People v. Hutchinson, No. 02PDJ050, 7/09/02. Attorney Suspended.

The Presiding Disciplinary Judge approved the parties’ Conditional Admission of Misconduct and suspended Respondent Nancy J. Hutchinson, attorney registration number 15061, from the practice of law for a period of 180 days. In one matter, respondent accepted a retainer and was employed by the client to obtain maintenance due the client from a divorce proceeding filed in another jurisdiction. For two years thereafter, the client repeatedly attempted to contact respondent for information on the status of her legal matter. On several occasions, respondent misrepresented the status of the case to the client, assuring the client she was taking action on her behalf when, in fact, she failed to take appropriate action on the matter. Respondent engaged in dishonesty, in violation of Colo. RPC 8.4(c); failed to adequately communicate with her client, in violation of Colo. RPC 1.4(a); neglected the client’s legal matter over a significant amount of time, in violation of Colo. RPC 1.3; charged an unreasonable fee, in violation of Colo. RPC 1.5(a); and failed to return the unearned portion of the retainer, in violation of Colo. RPC 1.15(b) and 1.16(d). In another matter, respondent represented a client in a divorce proceeding and failed to respond to a motion, in violation of Colo. RPC 1.3, resulting in an unfavorable outcome for the client. Respondent was ordered to pay restitution and the costs of the disciplinary proceeding.

People v. Palmer, No. 99PDJ055, 7/01/02. Attorney Suspended.

The Presiding Disciplinary Judge approved the parties’ Conditional Admission of Misconduct and suspended Respondent Joseph D. Palmer, attorney registration number 23601, from the practice of law for a period of sixty days, thirty days stayed, subject to a one-year period of probation with conditions. Respondent was the president and sole shareholder of American Family Homes, Inc., a corporation in the business of building and selling homes. Respondent pled guilty to a violation of CRS §§ 39-26-104, -105, and -106, arising from the corporation’s failure to pay sales tax, a class 5 felony, constituting grounds for discipline pursuant to C.R.C.P. 251.5(b). Respondent was ordered to pay the costs of the disciplinary proceeding.

People v. Petersen, No. 02PDJ046, 6/26/02. Attorney Suspended.

The Presiding Disciplinary Judge approved the party’s Conditional Admission of Misconduct and suspended Respondent Cheryl D. Petersen, attorney registration number 23727, from the practice of law for thirty days, all stayed during a one-year period of probation subject to conditions. Respondent represented a client in a dissolution of marriage proceeding. After the matter was resolved and over several months, the client requested that respondent return paperwork to him. She failed to do so for approximately a one-year period, in violation of Colo. RPC 1.16(d). In another matter, respondent represented a client in a dissolution of marriage proceeding. The court ordered respondent to prepare an order based on the court’s oral findings within a certain time frame. Despite the court’s ordering respondent to submit the draft order several times and finally ordering the respondent to show cause why she should not be held in contempt, respondent failed to comply with the court’s orders and was held in contempt. Respondent’s failure to comply with the court’s order constitutes a violation of Colo. RPC 3.4(c). Respondent’s conduct necessitated further contempt proceedings, resulting in a violation of Colo. RPC 8.4(d). Respondent was ordered to pay the costs of the disciplinary proceeding.

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