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TCL > May 2003 Issue > Summaries of Opinions

The Colorado Lawyer
May 2003
Vol. 32, No. 5 [Page  117]

© 2003 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 opinions appear on a space-available basis. The summaries for the Presiding Disciplinary Judge and hearing board are prepared by the Office of the Presiding Disciplinary Judge. The summaries of the Opinions of the Presiding Disciplinary Judge are provided as a service by the Colorado Bar Association and are not the official language of the Opinion. The Colorado Bar Association cannot guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the summaries.
Unless otherwise noted, full copies of the Opinions follow the summaries pages. The summaries and full-text Opinions are also available on the CBA home page at
http://www.cobar.org/tcl/index.htm (see page 139 for details), as well as on Lexis NexisTM at http://www.lexis.com/research, by clicking on States Legal U.S./Colorado/Cases and Court Rules/By Court/Colorado Supreme Court Disciplinary Opinions.

 

Summaries of Decisions Issued by the Presiding Disciplinary Judge
(Through 02/24/03)

People v. Poll, No. 02PDJ027, 02/24/03. Attorney Disbarred.
Respondent Norman Craig Poll, attorney registration number 12478, was disbarred from the practice of law following a sanctions hearing in this default proceeding. Poll represented certain defendants in litigation and neglected the clients’ matter by failing to: (1) provide or respond to discovery; (2) respond to a motion to compel; (3) timely respond to a court order compelling responses to the discovery; and (4) meet a court-ordered deadline regarding discovery. The court dismissed the clients’ counterclaims and defenses and struck the clients’ Answer. Thereafter, Poll failed to prepare for or appear for trial. The court entered judgment against Poll’s clients and granted equitable relief and attorney fees. Poll failed to advise his clients of the status of the case. The extent of Poll’s neglect rose to the level of abandonment. Poll’s acts and omissions constituted violations of Colo. RPC 1.3, Colo. RPC 1.4(a), and Colo. RPC 1.4(b). Poll knowingly deceived the client representative regarding the status of the case and the clients’ rights of appeal, and knowingly made false statements of material fact to the trial court, in violation of Colo. RPC 8.4(c) and Colo. RPC 3.3(a), and thereafter failed to take steps to protect the clients’ interest, in violation of Colo. RPC 1.16(d). Disbarment is effective thirty-one days from the date of the Supreme Court’s Order. Respondent is ordered to pay the costs of the proceeding. p.119.

Summaries of Decisions Regarding Conditional Admissions of Misconduct
Issued by the Presiding Disciplinary Judge
(Through 02/27/03)

[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 LexisNexisTM at http:// 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. Best, No.02PDJ085, 02/20/03. Attorney Suspension Stayed During Two-Year Probation.
The Presiding Disciplinary Judge approved the Conditional Admission of Misconduct and suspended Respondent Stephen R. Best, attorney registration number 21519, from the practice of law in the state of Colorado for a period of six months, all stayed during a two-year period of probation with conditions. Respondent failed to remain current on child support obligations, in violation of Colo. RPC 3.4(c). Respondent was ordered to pay the costs of the proceeding.

People v. Isaac, No. 03PDJ018, 02/27/03. Attorney Suspension Stayed During Two-Year Probation.
The Presiding Disciplinary Judge approved the Conditional Admission of Misconduct and suspended Respondent Lance E. Isaac, attorney registration number 22918, from the practice of law in the state of Colorado for a period of six months, all stayed during a two-year period of probation with conditions. This disciplinary proceeding arises from four separate client matters. In one matter, respondent filed suit on behalf of the client concerning an employment claim. Respondent did not effect service of process on defendants within the time period required by court order, and the court dismissed the case. Respondent did not inform the client that the lawsuit had been dismissed. The statute of limitations expired on the client’s claims. Respondent filed a notice of appeal from the court’s ruling without notice to or consent from his client. As of early 2003, respondent still had not served process of the appeal on the defendants. Respondent did not communicate with the client concerning the dismissal or appeal of the case. Respondent violated Colo. RPC 1.3, Colo. RPC 1.4(a), and Colo. RPC 1.4(b). In a second matter, respondent contracted with an expert witness for services and, despite repeated demand and attempts to communicate with respondent, the expert witness did not receive payment for his services. He hired an attorney who, after significant delay, negotiated a payment plan with respondent. Respondent still owes a specific sum of the total amount. Respondent’s conduct violated Colo. RPC 8.4(h). In a third matter, respondent represented a client in a personal injury matter and filed a complaint on the client’s behalf. After the defendant filed an answer, the respondent took no further action to prosecute the case. Respondent’s conduct violated Colo. RPC 1.3. Additionally, in his representation of two clients facing criminal matters, respondent repeatedly failed to appear for scheduled hearings and failed to notify the court, opposing counsel, or the client, or he notified them at the last minute. Respondent’s conduct violated Colo. RPC 1.3. His conduct that caused the court to reschedule hearings violated Colo. RPC 8.4(d). With regard to all matters giving rise to this disciplinary proceeding, respondent’s health was considered a mitigating factor that caused or contributed to the misconduct. Respondent was ordered to pay the costs of the proceeding.

People v. Kaufman, No. 03PDJ009, 02/19/03. Attorney Suspended for Two Years.
The Presiding Disciplinary Judge approved the Conditional Admission of Misconduct and suspended Respondent Shaun Kaufman, attorney registration number 14152, from the practice of law in the state of Colorado for a period of two years, with conditions. This disciplinary proceeding arises from numerous matters. In one matter, respondent failed to adequately represent the client on the appeal of his criminal conviction, in violation of Colo. RPC 1.3. He failed to communicate with the client for two years, in violation of Colo. RPC 1.4(a). He effectively terminated the representation and thereafter failed to protect the client’s interests, in violation of Colo. RPC 1.16(d). In a second matter, after being placed on disability inactive status, respondent failed to notify the district court or his client of his change in status, causing prejudice to the administration of justice, in violation of Colo. RPC 8.4(d). The parties stipulate that by failing to advise the court of his withdrawal, respondent violated Colo. RPC 3.4(c). Respondent also failed to protect the client’s interest on termination, in violation of Colo. RPC 1.16(d). The parties stipulate that respondent’s failure to return the client’s funds after not performing the work requested constituted a violation of Colo. RPC 1.5(a) and Colo. RPC 1.15(b). In a third matter, respondent failed to complete the work he had agreed to complete for the client, but retained the client’s funds. The parties stipulate that respondent’s conduct constituted a violation of Colo. RPC 1.5(a) and Colo. RPC 1.15(b). Respondent failed to protect the client’s interest on termination, in violation of Colo. RPC 1.16(d). In a fourth matter, respondent failed to segregate the client’s funds, failed to ensure that the funds were deposited into a trust account, failed to communicate with the client, and failed to give the client an accounting when requested. The parties stipulate that respondent’s conduct violated Colo. RPC 1.5(a), Colo. RPC 1.15(a), Colo. RPC 1.15(b), Colo. RPC 5.3(c)(2), and Colo. RPC 1.4(a). In a fifth matter, respondent neglected a client’s civil case, which resulted in its dismissal. Respondent misinformed the client of the status of the case, failed to communicate with the client, and failed to protect the client’s interests on termination. The parties stipulate that this conduct violated Colo. RPC 1.3, Colo. RPC 8.4(c), Colo. RPC 1.4(a), and Colo. RPC 1.16(d). In a fifth matter, respondent represented a client in a criminal matter and received funds for his representation. Shortly thereafter, despite the client’s requests following termination, respondent failed to return the client’s documents or provide an accounting. The parties stipulate that respondent’s conduct violated Colo. RPC 1.15(b) and Colo. RPC 8.4(c). In a sixth matter, respondent retained an expert witness, paid a portion of his bill, then did not pay the remaining balance due and did not notify the client of the outstanding balance, in violation of Colo. RPC 8.4(d). The client requested an accounting and the respondent failed to provide one, in violation of Colo. RPC 1.15(b). In several other matters, respondent failed to appear for or arrived late for scheduled court appearances and failed to meet filing deadlines in several cases, all resulting in prejudice to the administration of justice, in violation of Colo. RPC 8.4(d). With regard to respondent’s management of his trust account, the parties stipulate that respondent violated Colo. RPC 5.3(a) and Colo. RPC 8.4(c) by negligently withdrawing funds belonging to clients on one occasion from his trust account. In mitigation, respondent suffered from mental health problems during the relevant time frame. Respondent was ordered to pay the costs of the disciplinary proceeding.

People v. Lanphere, No. 02PDJ093, 02/20/03. Attorney Suspension Stayed During Three-Year Probation.
The Presiding Disciplinary Judge approved the Conditional Admission of Misconduct and suspended Respondent Gregory S. Lanphere, attorney registration number 18376, from the practice of law in the state of Colorado for a period of one year, all stayed during a three-year period of probation with conditions. By handling certain matters for a client, respondent violated Colo. RPC 1.7(b), Colo. RPC 1.3, and Colo. RPC 1.5(a). The conduct involved engaging in matters where there was a conflict of interest, neglecting the client’s legal matter, and charging an unreasonable fee. Respondent was ordered to pay restitution to the client and the costs of the disciplinary proceeding.

People v. Rabouin, No. 03PDJ016, 02/27/03. Attorney Suspended.
The Presiding Disciplinary Judge approved the Conditional Admission of Misconduct and suspended Respondent E. Michelle Rabouin, attorney registration number 13818, from the practice of law in the state of Colorado for a period of twenty-four months, twenty months stayed during a two-year period of probation with conditions. Respondent negligently allowed the balance of her COLTAF account to fall below the amount that should have been maintained for clients, in violation of Colo. RPC 1.15(a). Respondent failed to maintain billing and time records for a number of clients, in violation of Colo. RPC 1.15(g)(2). Respondent was ordered to pay the costs of the disciplinary proceeding.

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