|The Colorado Lawyer|
Vol. 32, No. 1 [Page 119]
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From the Courts
Colorado Disciplinary Cases
Summaries of Opinions
Summaries of Decisions Issued by the Presiding Disciplinary Judge
(Through November 20, 2002)
People v. Katz, No. 00PDJ053, 11/13/02. Attorney Disbarred.
The Hearing Board disbarred Respondent Jerrold C. Katz, attorney registration number 13966, from the practice of law following a trial in this proceeding. Respondent collaborated with another attorney on medical malpractice cases. In the course of the business relationship, mistrust arose between the two attorneys, and a dispute developed as to the proceeds of a settlement resulting from one of their cases. Both attorneys retained counsel to resolve the dispute. They ultimately agreed to place the funds in a joint account, pending resolution of the dispute. Respondent and the other attorney had signatory authority on the account. The account required two signatures on checks over $10,000, and only one signature for checks under that amount. Several other entities asserted liens on the funds. Several weeks later, over the course of a few days, respondent withdrew funds exceeding the amount to which he was entitled, writing numerous checks under $10,000, so that a co-signature would not be required, without informing the attorney with whom he disputed the funds, the attorney’s counsel, or his own counsel that he was withdrawing the funds. Respondent exercised exclusive dominion and control over those funds, using or attempting to use at least a portion of the funds for his personal obligations. Respondent violated Colo. RPC 1.15(a) by failing to keep the funds resulting from settlement separate from his own property. Respondent knew that the allocation of the funds held in the joint account was disputed and, therefore, had an affirmative obligation to keep the funds separate from his own until the dispute was resolved. His failure to keep the funds separate pending an accounting and severance of the other interests asserting a claim to the funds violated Colo. RPC 1.15(c). Respondent’s surreptitious withdrawal of funds from the joint account amounted to a series of dishonest and deceitful acts, in violation of Colo. RPC 8.4(c). Respondent’s misappropriating funds to which third parties claimed an interest constituted knowing conversion, in violation of Colo. RPC 8.4(c). Respondent’s attempted use of additional funds from the joint account violated Colo. RPC 8.4(a). The medical evidence presented described respondent’s mental disorder at the time he wrote the checks alternatively as mild depression or acute depression combined with anxiety, neither of which would cause dishonest conduct, and was given little weight as a mitigating factor. Respondent’s return of the misappropriated funds was not given significant weight as a mitigating factor, because the return of the funds was not immediate and was coordinated with a resolution of his dispute over the funds. Disbarment is effective thirty days from the date of the Order. Respondent is ordered to pay the costs of the disciplinary proceeding within fifteen days of the date of the Order. p.121.
Reaves v. People, No.02PDJ048, 11/19/02. Attorney Reinstated.
The Hearing Board reinstated Robert J. Reaves, attorney registration number 16675, to the practice of law. Reinstatement is effective December 20, 2002, thirty-one days from the date of the Order, and is subject to conditions. p.128.
People v. Wayne, No. 02PDJ047, 11/04/02. Attorney Reinstated Subject to Probation.
The Presiding Disciplinary Judge reinstated Lisa M. Wayne, attorney registration number 15676, to the practice of law. Reinstatement is effective November 12, 2002, and is subject to a two-year period of probation. No Opinion was issued.
Summaries of Decisions Regarding Conditional Admissions of Misconduct
Issued by the Presiding Disciplinary Judge
(Through November 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. McMenaman, No.02PDJ051, 11/19/02. Attorney Suspended.
The Presiding Disciplinary Judge approved the parties’ Conditional Admission of Misconduct and suspended Paul X. McMenaman, attorney registration number 16407, from the practice of law in the state of Colorado for a period of one year and one day, ten months and one day of which are stayed (sixty-day suspension), during an eighteen-month period of probation subject to conditions. In one matter, respondent represented a client in connection with a personal injury matter. Respondent failed to takes steps on behalf of the client to establish the client’s claim, failed to adequately communicate with the client, and failed to commence the action within the applicable statute of limitations. Eventually, respondent filed a complaint on behalf of the client, which was later dismissed by the court based on respondent’s failure to prosecute. Respondent did not inform the client that the case had been dismissed. After the client filed a request for investigation with the Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel, respondent recklessly represented to the client that the file contained a letter indicating that the complaint had been sent to the court for filing six months prior to its actual filing date. The respondent did not further investigate whether the date of the letter was correct, and did not inform the client that the filing date indicated the complaint had been filed six months later. Additionally, respondent contracted with a court reporting service to transcribe depositions, and delayed eleven months in paying the reporters’ invoices, tendering payment only after a request for investigation had been filed with the Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel. Respondent was ordered to pay the costs of the proceeding.
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