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TCL > November 2002 Issue > Summaries of Opinions

The Colorado Lawyer
November 2002
Vol. 31, No. 11 [Page  121]

© 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 Regarding Conditional Admissions of Misconduct
Issued by the Presiding Disciplinary Judge
(Through September 20, 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. Reuler, No. 02PDJ061, 8/27/02. Attorney Suspended.

The Presiding Disciplinary Judge approved the party’s Conditional Admission of Misconduct and suspended Respondent Maurice Reuler, attorney registration number 00720, from the practice of law for a period of three years, with conditions. In one matter, respondent was retained by a client to handle the estate of her deceased husband. Respondent initially gave the client an estimate of his fees and executed a fee agreement. The client signed a general durable power of attorney, designating respondent as her attorney-in-fact and agent. Respondent made unauthorized disbursements from the estate for legal fees, constituting negligent conversion, in violation of Colo. RPC 8.4(c). On several occasions, the client requested—and did not receive—an accounting; when respondent did provide an accounting, it was not itemized. The accounting had been constructed at a later date, because respondent had not kept contemporaneous billing records. The amount respondent charged the client for handling the estate matter constituted an unreasonable fee, in violation of Colo. RPC 1.5(a). Respondent failed to hold client property in trust, in violation of Colo. RPC 1.15(a). Respondent was ordered to pay restitution to the client. In a second matter, respondent represented a client in a dissolution of marriage proceeding. Respondent charged and attempted to collect an unreasonable fee, in violation of Colo. RPC 1.5(a); failed to surrender papers and property to which the client was entitled, in violation of Colo. RPC 1.16(d); and engaged in conduct adversely reflecting on respondent’s fitness to practice law by improperly asserting attorney liens against the client’s property, in an effort to leverage payment of an unreasonable fee, in violation of Colo. RPC 8.4(h). Respondent was ordered to pay the costs of the proceeding.

People v. Reuler, No. 02PDJ062, 8/27/02. Attorney Suspension Stayed During Two-Year Probation.

The Presiding Disciplinary Judge approved the party’s Conditional Admission of Misconduct and suspended Respondent Jody C. Reuler, attorney registration number 24375, from the practice of law for a period of nine months, all stayed during a two-year period of probation subject to conditions. Respondent’s firm handled an estate on behalf of a client. Respondent charged an unreasonable fee, in violation of Colo. RPC 1.5(a); failed to ensure that the firm’s attorneys conformed their conduct to the Rules of Professional Conduct, in violation of Colo. RPC 5.1(a); failed to adequately supervise the primary lawyer on the case, in violation of Colo. RPC 5.1(c)(2); had knowledge of and ratified the conduct of the primary lawyer on the case with regard to providing a client with an itemized billing statement containing false or inaccurate statements and failing to take reasonable remedial action, in violation of Colo. RPC 5.1(c)(1); and assisted with the reconstruction of the dishonest billing statement used to justify the negligent conversion by another lawyer, in violation of Colo. RPC 8.4(c). In a separate matter, respondent’s firm represented a client in a dissolution of marriage matter. When a fee dispute arose, respondent’s firm recorded liens on the client’s property without first reducing the liens to judgment. When the client hired counsel to resolve the dispute, counsel for the client requested that respondent release the liens, and respondent did not do so. Respondent charged and attempted to collect an unreasonable fee, in violation of Colo. RPC 1.5(a); improperly asserted attorney liens against the client and failed to surrender papers and property to which the client was entitled, in violation of Colo. RPC 1.16(d); and utilized the assertion of attorney liens in an effort to leverage payment of an unreasonable fee, in violation of Colo. RPC 8.4(h). Respondent was ordered to pay the costs of the proceeding.

People v. Tolin, No. 02PDJ066, 8/27/02. Attorney Suspended Subject to Conditions in Reciprocal Matter.

In this reciprocal discipline matter from the state of Missouri, the Presiding Disciplinary Judge approved the party’s Conditional Admission of Misconduct and suspended Respondent Josh P. Tolin, attorney registration number 26899, from the practice of law for a period of ninety days, subject to conditions. Respondent was suspended in Missouri for a period of 150 days, sixty of which were for medical reasons. The remaining suspension arose from respondent’s commingling of personal funds with the funds of his clients in the law firm trust account, and using the law firm trust account to wire personal funds to an attorney for respondent’s personal expenditures, in violation of Colo. RPC 1.15(a). The funds utilized by respondent were his own and did not belong to the firm’s clients. 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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