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TCL > July 2003 Issue > Summaries of Opinions

The Colorado Lawyer
July 2003
Vol. 32, No. 7 [Page  151]

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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 171 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 April 28, 2003)

People v. Hemphill, No. 02PDJ054, 04/28/03. Attorney Suspended.

The Hearing Board suspended respondent Danny R. Hemphill, attorney registration number 17833, for a period of one year and one day, following a sanctions hearing in this default proceeding. The conduct giving rise to the proceeding involved two separate client matters. In the first matter, respondent failed to provide discovery to opposing counsel and failed to cooperate in the preparation of the case management order, constituting neglect, in violation of Colo. RPC 1.3. As a result of respondent’s neglect, the suit was dismissed. Respondent failed to communicate with the client, in violation of Colo. RPC 1.4(a), and failed to explain the matter to the client to permit the client to make informed decisions with regard to the representation, in violation of Colo. RPC 1.4(b). In the second matter, respondent represented a client on a medical malpractice claim, and failed to file a proof of service resulting in the dismissal of the suit, in violation of Colo. RPC 1.3; failed to communicate with the client, in violation of Colo. RPC 1.4(a); and failed to adequately explain the matter to the client in order to enable the client to make informed decisions with regard to respondent’s representation, in violation of Colo. RPC 1.4(b). Respondent failed to return the client’s file upon termination, in violation of Colo. RPC 1.16(d). Suspension is effective thirty-one days from the date of the Order. Respondent was ordered to return the client’s file within thirty days and pay the costs of the disciplinary proceedings. p.153.

 

Summaries of Decisions Regarding Conditional Admissions of Misconduct
Issued by the Presiding Disciplinary Judge

(Through May 15, 2003)

[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. Baril, No. 03PDJ008, 04/25/03. Reciprocal Disciplinary Matter—Attorney Suspended for Three Years.

The Presiding Disciplinary Judge approved the parties’ Conditional Admission of Misconduct and suspended respondent Christian J. Baril, attorney registration number 29738, from the practice of law for a period of three years, in this reciprocal discipline matter from the state of Illinois. In one client matter, respondent technically converted client or third-party funds by failing to hold funds belonging to a client or third party separate from his own property, and failing to promptly deliver to a client or third party funds that the client or third party was entitled to receive. Respondent ultimately returned the converted funds, but not until ordered to do so by a court that had entered judgment against him. Respondent’s conduct violated Colo. RPC 1.15(a) and Colo. RPC 1.15(b). In a separate matter, respondent knowingly made a false statement of material fact or law to a tribunal and caused prejudice to the administration of justice, in violation of Colo. RPC 3.3(a)(1), Colo. RPC 8.4(c), and Colo. RPC 8.4(d). Respondent also committed a criminal act that reflected adversely on his fitness as a lawyer, in violation of Colo. RPC 8.4(b), by possessing less than 2.5 grams of cannabis, a Class C misdemeanor in Illinois. In another matter, respondent was found to have violated conflict of interest rules in Illinois that would constitute violations of Colo. RPC 1.7(a) and Colo. RPC 1.7(b). Respondent also communicated with a party he knew to be represented by another lawyer, without consent or authorization, in violation of Colo. RPC 4.2. Respondent’s conduct resulted in prejudice to the administration of justice, in violation of Colo. RPC 8.4(d). Respondent was ordered to pay costs of the proceeding.

People v. Hassan, No. 03PDJ027, 05/12/03. Attorney Suspended.

The Presiding Disciplinary Judge approved the party’s Conditional Admission of Misconduct and suspended respondent Thomas F. Hassan, attorney registration number 14841, from the practice of law for a period of four months, commencing June 3, 2004, following the current period of suspension under a prior matter. Respondent violated Colo. RPC 1.3, 1.4, and 5.3. Respondent was ordered to pay costs of the proceeding.

People v. Gordon, No. 03PDJ030, 05/15/03. Attorney Suspended.

The Presiding Disciplinary Judge approved the parties’ Conditional Admission of Misconduct and suspended respondent Thomas J. Gordon, attorney registration number 09411, from the practice of law for a period of one year and one day. Respondent produced privileged and confidential documents to a third party, in violation of Colo. RPC 1.6. Respondent was ordered to pay costs of the proceeding.

People v. MacDonald, No. 03PDJ017, 05/15/03. Attorney Suspension Partially Stayed During Two-Year Probation.

The Presiding Disciplinary Judge approved the party’s Conditional Admission of Misconduct and suspended respondent William J. MacDonald, attorney registration number 12393, from the practice of law for a period of one year and one day, with all but thirty days stayed during a two-year period of probation subject to conditions. Ten separate client matters are at issue: in nine cases, respondent neglected legal matters; in eight, he failed to communicate with the clients; in four, he failed to return client property; in one, he provided incompetent representation; in one, he failed to promptly deliver funds to the client; and in four cases he failed to reasonably respond to a lawful demand for information from a disciplinary authority. Respondent’s conduct violated Colo. RPC 1.3, Colo. RPC 1.4(a), Colo. RPC 1.16(d), Colo. RPC 1.1, and Colo. RPC 8.1(b). Mitigating factors were considered in arriving at the sanction. Respondent was ordered to pay costs of the disciplinary proceedings.

People v. West, No. 02PDJ092, 04/22/03. Attorney Suspension Stayed During One-Year Probation.

The Presiding Disciplinary Judge approved the party’s Conditional Admission of Misconduct and suspended respondent Carl S. West, attorney registration number 23435, from the practice of law for a period of one year and one day, with all but thirty days stayed during a one-year period of probation, subject to conditions. Respondent represented a client who had been injured and whose husband had died in an automobile accident. The client entered into a contingency fee agreement that provided that the respondent would take all action as considered reasonable and necessary to file suit or settle the wrongful death and bodily injury claims. Respondent failed to provide competent legal representation to his client, in violation of Colo. RPC 1.1, and neglected the client’s wrongful death and personal injury claims, in violation of Colo. RPC 1.3. Respondent charged an unreasonable fee, in violation of Colo. RPC 1.5(a) and Colo. RPC 1.5(c), and respondent’s contingent fee did not meet the requirements of Chapter 23.3. Respondent violated Colo. RPC 8.4(c) with regard to his communication pertaining to the amount he would collect for his services. Respondent was ordered to pay costs of the proceeding.

 

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