Vol. 31, No. 12
From the Courts
Colorado Disciplinary Cases
Summaries of Opinions
Summaries of Decisions Issued by the Presiding Disciplinary Judge
(Through October 16, 2002)
People v. Costa, No.02PDJ012, 10/16/02. Attorney Disbarred.
In this default proceeding, the Presiding Disciplinary Judge approved the party’s Conditional Admission of Misconduct and disbarred Respondent Maria R. Costa, attorney registration number 14968, from the practice of law in the state of Colorado. Respondent received a formal reprimand, an audit of her law practice, and a period of probation in the state of New Mexico for violation of nine separate provisions of the New Mexico Rules of Professional Conduct, which arose from her handling of one matter in the state of New Mexico. Respondent filed a personal injury action in New Mexico, naming five defendants. Five months later, respondent filed returns of service that two defendants had been served. The two defendants submitted written discovery requests to respondent. Three months later, despite the efforts of defendants’ counsel, respondent had not provided the discovery. When defendants’ counsel filed motions to compel, respondent did not respond on behalf of her clients, nor did she attend the hearing on the motions. At the hearing, both motions to compel were granted, and the court ordered respondent to produce the discovery and pay attorney fees. Respondent failed to respond to the court’s orders. Some five months later, defendants filed motions to dismiss. Respondent did not respond or appear at the hearing, and the court granted both motions to dismiss. Thereafter, respondent moved to set aside the order of dismissal and set forth material misrepresentations in her motion to the court. The Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel requested the sanction of disbarment in this reciprocal discipline matter for respondent’s conduct in the state of New Mexico, which constituted violations of Colo. RPC 1.3, Colo. RPC 1.4(b), Colo. RPC 3.2, Colo. RPC 3.4(c), and 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 proceeding. p.133.
Summaries of Decisions Regarding Conditional Admissions of Misconduct
Issued by the Presiding Disciplinary Judge
(Through October 7, 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. Field, No.02PDJ078, 10/7/02. Attorney Disbarred.
The Presiding Disciplinary Judge approved the party’s Conditional Admission of Misconduct and disbarred Respondent Mark P. Field, attorney registration number 10480, from the practice of law in the state of Colorado. In two matters, respondent collected funds on behalf of the clients tendered to him by the debtors, and failed to tender the payments received from debtors to the clients, amounting to knowing conversion of client funds, in violation of Colo. RPC 8.4(c). In one of the two matters, respondent misrepresented to the client why the client had not received the funds due, failed to tender a statement to the client when requested, and engaged in the practice of law while under suspension. Respondent’s conduct violated Colo. RPC 8.4(c), Colo. RPC 3.4(c), and Colo. RPC 5.5(a). Respondent was ordered to pay the costs of the proceeding.
People v. Lindemann, No. 02PDJ073, 9/25/02. Attorney Suspension Stayed During Two-Year Probation.
The Presiding Disciplinary Judge approved the party’s Conditional Admission of Misconduct and suspended Respondent Ward F. Lindemann, attorney registration number 19292, from the practice of law for a period of one year and one day, all stayed during a two-year period of probation with conditions. Respondent represented five separate clients, four involving dissolution of marriage proceedings and one involving modification of child support. In four matters, respondent failed to keep the clients reasonably informed and failed to comply with the clients’ requests for information, in violation of Colo. RPC 1.4(a). In three matters, respondent neglected client legal matters by failing to return client phone calls; not keeping appointments; and failing to timely prepare a separation agreement, temporary orders, and a proposed visitation stipulation in a timely fashion, in violation of Colo. RPC 1.3. In one matter, respondent failed to return unearned funds to the client, in violation of Colo. RPC 1.16(d). In another matter, he failed to provide an accounting, in violation of Colo. RPC 1.15(b). Respondent was ordered to pay restitution and the costs of the proceeding.
People v. Pagnozzi, No. 02PDJ036, 9/25/02. Attorney Suspension Stayed During One-Year Probation.
The Presiding Disciplinary Judge approved the parties’ Conditional Admission of Misconduct and suspended Respondent Michael P. Pagnozzi, attorney registration number 24351, from the practice of law for a period of thirty days, all stayed during a one-year period of probation subject to conditions. Respondent was administratively suspended for failing to pay his attorney registration fees, but was not aware of the suspension. During the period of administrative suspension, he did not maintain an active law practice. Respondent entered his appearance as co-counsel in one matter on behalf of a personal acquaintance, but did not prepare, file, or sign any pleading or motion, nor did he appear in any court proceedings, and did not charge or receive fees. In two other matters, respondent was asked to represent two individuals and agreed to do so, but did not accept fees for his services. Respondent’s conduct constituted a violation of Colo. RPC 5.5(a), practicing law while under suspension. Respondent was ordered to pay the costs of the proceeding.
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