Search



Not a CBA Member? Join Now!
Find A Lawyer Directory
STRATUM
Find A Lawyer Directory

TCL > November 2003 Issue > Summaries of Disciplinary Opinions

The Colorado Lawyer
November 2003
Vol. 32, No. 11 [Page  137]

© 2003 The Colorado Lawyer and Colorado Bar Association. All Rights Reserved.

All material from The Colorado Lawyer provided via this World Wide Web server is copyrighted by the Colorado Bar Association. Before accessing any specific article, click here for disclaimer information.

From the Courts
Colorado Disciplinary Cases

Summaries of Disciplinary 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 155 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 September 3, 2003)

People v. Distel, 03PDJ005, 07/24/03. Attorney Disbarred.

In this default reciprocal discipline proceeding from the state of Arizona, the Hearing Board disbarred Eddie G. Distel, attorney registration number 05727, following a sanctions hearing. Respondent
engaged in neglect, knowing conversion of client funds, trust account violations, and made knowing misstatements of material fact to a tribunal in the state of Arizona. Disbarment is effective thirty-one days from the date of the Order. Respondent was ordered to pay the costs of the disciplinary proceedings. p.139.

People v. Dougherty, No. 02PDJ105, 8/25/03. Attorney Disbarred.

The Hearing Board disbarred Respondent Kirk Patrick Dougherty, attorney registration number 23964, from the practice of law in the state of Colorado, following a sanctions hearing. This disciplinary proceeding arose from respondent’s representation of eleven clients. In his representation of five of the eleven, respondent knowingly exercised unauthorized dominion and control over the clients’ funds by accepting funds from the clients in payment for his services, failing to perform those services, retaining the funds for an extended period of time, and failing to return the funds to the clients, in violation of Colo. RPC 8.4(c). Additionally, respondent failed to communicate with six of his clients, in violation of Colo. RPC 1.4(a); failed to inform two clients of the status of their matters so that they could make informed decisions on the representation, in violation of Colo. RPC 1.4(b); failed to provide competent representation in four matters, in violation of Colo. RPC 1.1; neglected five clients’ matters, in violation of Colo. RPC 1.3; failed to provide funds or files upon termination in four matters, which, taken together with respondent’s neglect, effectively amounted to abandonment, in violation of Colo. RPC 1.16(d); proposed or engaged in sexual relations with a client in one matter, in violation of Colo. RPC 1.7(b) and Colo. RPC 8.4(h); knowingly failed to obey the orders of a tribunal in two matters, in violation of Colo. RPC 3.4(c); and failed to cooperate with the Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel in one matter, in violation of Colo. RPC 8.1(b). Disbarment is effective thirty-one days from the date of the Order. Respondent was ordered to pay the costs of the disciplinary proceedings. p.140.

People v. Gifford, No. 03PDJ006, 09/03/03. Attorney Disbarred.

The Hearing Board disbarred Respondent Glenda Dodd Gifford, attorney registration number 26058, from the practice of law in the state of Colorado, following a sanctions hearing. The disciplinary proceedings arose from Gifford’s handling of three matters. In the first matter, Gifford misappropriated funds held in escrow for a parenting evaluation and applied them to an outstanding attorney fee bill. Gifford took such funds knowing that ownership of the funds was in dispute. Gifford failed to adequately communicate with her client, communicated with a party she knew was represented by counsel, made a false statement of material fact to the district court, and submitted false billing statements regarding her representation to the Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel. In a second matter, Gifford knowingly converted a client’s retainer prior to having earned it. In the first and third matters, Gifford failed to provide her clients with competent legal advice. In the third matter, Gifford recorded false information contained in a notice and claim of lien, and counseled her client to engage in conduct that Gifford knew was criminal in nature; i.e., offering real estate in exchange for a recantation of testimony by the client’s ex-wife and another witness in a pending criminal matter. In all three client matters, Gifford failed to take steps to the extent reasonably practicable to protect each of these client’s interests after she was terminated, by failing to return client files, provide accountings, or return unearned retainers. Subsequent attorneys were forced to make numerous attempts to communicate with Gifford, and sometimes seek court intervention, in order to obtain client files prior to upcoming hearings. Disbarment is effective thirty-one days from the date of the Order. Respondent was ordered to pay the costs of the disciplinary proceedings within sixty days of the date of the Order. Respondent was ordered to make additional reimbursements within thirty days of the Order. p.142.

 

Summaries of Decisions Regarding Conditional Admissions of Misconduct
Issued by the Presiding Disciplinary Judge
(Through September 10, 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. Dempsey, No. 03PDJ055, 09/09/03. Attorney Suspended Sixty Days—Suspension Stayed.

The Presiding Disciplinary Judge approved the party’s Conditional Admission of Misconduct and suspended C. Bert Dempsey, attorney registration number 12775, from the practice of law for a period of sixty days, all stayed upon successful completion of an eighteen-month period of probation. Respondent engaged in several incidents of deficient financial record keeping with regard to his trust account, resulting in negligent misappropriation, in violation of Colo. RPC 1.15(a), Colo. RPC 1.15(g), and Colo. RPC 1.15 (f)(4). Respondent was ordered to pay the costs of the disciplinary proceedings.

People v. Escamilla, No. 03PDJ039 (Cons. No. 00PDJ078), 08/29/03. Attorney Suspended.

The Presiding Disciplinary Judge approved the party’s Conditional Admission of Misconduct with regard to Samuel Reyes Escamilla, attorney registration number 10905. The agreed-upon and approved sanction was revocation of the previously imposed period of probation and lifting the stay of the remaining nine-month period of suspension, while imposing a one-year-and-three-month suspension, to run concurrently with the remaining nine-month suspension. In one case, respondent represented a client in a dissolution of marriage action. He neglected the client’s matter by failing to comply with the delay reduction order or responding to the court’s show cause orders, resulting in the dismissal of the action based on respondent’s failing to prosecute. In a second matter, respondent represented a client in an immigration matter. Respondent failed to appear at a scheduled hearing. As a result of respondent and his client failing to appear, the court entered a deportation order. Thereafter, the client sought substitute counsel. Respondent’s conduct violated Colo. RPC 1.3, Colo. RPC 1.4(a), Colo. RPC 3.4(c), and Colo. RPC 8.4(d). Respondent was ordered to pay costs of the disciplinary proceedings.

People v. Keilly, No. 02PDJ034, 09/10/03. Attorney Suspended.

The Presiding Disciplinary Judge approved the party’s Conditional Admission of Misconduct and suspended Respondent Michael S. Keilly, attorney registration number 18862, from the practice of law for a period of one year and one day. Respondent represented a client concerning an insurance coverage dispute and failed to act with reasonable diligence in pursuing the matter he filed on behalf of the client. He failed to appear for a status conference following the filing of an answer by defendants, failed to set the matter for trial as directed, and failed to take any action thereafter on behalf of the client. As a result, the court dismissed the action. Respondent failed to inform his client of his inaction or the dismissal. Respondent effectively abandoned the representation of the client, resulting in significant harm to the client. Respondent violated Colo. RPC 1.3, Colo. RPC 1.4(a), Colo. RPC 1.4(b), and Colo. RPC 1.16(d). Significant mitigating factors were present. Respondent was ordered to pay the costs of the disciplinary proceedings.

People v. McReynolds, No. 03PDJ059, 08/29/03. Attorney Suspension Stayed Upon Completion of Probation.

The Presiding Disciplinary Judge approved the party’s Conditional Admission of Misconduct and suspended Respondent Gregg C. McReynolds, attorney registration number 11771, from the practice of law for a period of ninety days, all stayed upon successful completion of a two-year period of probation subject to conditions. On numerous occasions, respondent failed to monitor his handling of his operating and trust accounts to ensure compliance with Colo. RPC 1.15(a). Respondent also failed to adequately designate his accounts, in violation of Colo. RPC 1.15(f)(4). Respondent was ordered to pay costs of the proceedings.

People v. Reuler, No. 03PDJ054, 08/26/03. Attorney Disbarred.

The Presiding Disciplinary Judge approved the party’s Conditional Admission of Misconduct and disbarred Jody C. Reuler, attorney registration number 24375, from the practice of law in the state of Colorado. Respondent represented a client in a personal injury case that reached settlement. The settlement funds were dispersed. Respondent’s office represented that the subrogation amount had been distributed to the workers’ compensation insurer, when in fact it had not been distributed. Instead, respondent took the funds without authorization and used them for other purposes. Respondent knew at the time he took the funds that they belonged to the workers’ compensation insurer. When asked about the payment, respondent misrepresented that they had been sent but had not yet cleared the bank, and that the funds were still in respondent’s trust account. Respondent’s conduct constituted knowing conversion, in violation of Colo. RPC 8.4(c). Respondent restored the amount to his trust account and paid the workers’ compensation insurer. Respondent was ordered to pay the costs of the disciplinary proceedings.

People v. Thaler, No. 02PDJ110, 08/26/03. Attorney Suspension Stayed Upon Completion of Probation.

The Presiding Disciplinary Judge approved the Conditional Admission of Misconduct submitted and suspended Respondent Manley H. Thaler, attorney registration number 17200, from the practice of law for a period of ninety days, all stayed upon successful completion of a two-year period of probation subject to conditions. Respondent represented a client who was beneficiary of an estate, and eventually represented the conservator of the same estate when his representation of both the client beneficiary and the client conservator may have been materially limited by the respondent’s responsibilities to another client or to a third person or by respondent’s own interests. Neither the client beneficiary nor the client conservator consented to respondent’s representation after consultation. Respondent’s conduct violated Colo. RPC 1.7(b)(2). At the time respondent represented the clients and filed pleadings on their behalf in Colorado, he was on inactive status in Colorado and, thus, practiced law without a license, in violation of C.R.C.P. 227(A)(6)(b), constituting a violation of Colo. RPC 5.5(a). After respondent’s withdrawal from representation of the client beneficiary and the client conservator, replacement counsel requested the complete file from respondent. Respondent refused to produce the file absent a release. Replacement counsel was constrained to seek court intervention in obtaining the file. Respondent’s conduct violated Colo. RPC 1.16(d). Respondent was ordered to pay the costs of the disciplinary proceedings.

© 2003 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=2003.


Back