Vol. 33, No. 3
From the Courts
Colorado Disciplinary Cases
Summaries of Disciplinary Opinions
The summaries for the Presiding Disciplinary Judge and Hearing Board are prepared by the Office of the Presiding Disciplinary Judge. The summaries of the decisions of the Presiding Disciplinary Judge are provided as a service by the Colorado Bar Association and are not the official language of the Decisions. The Colorado Bar Association cannot guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the summaries.
Full copies of the Decisions generally follow the summaries pages. The summaries and full-text Decisions also are accessible from the CBA website: http://www.cobar.org (click on The Colorado Lawyer tab, then the appropriate issue). Decisions, including Exhibits, Complaints, and Amended Complaints and summaries, also are available at the Office of Presiding Disciplinary Judge website: http://www.coloradosupremecourt.com/PDJ/pdj.htm, as well as on LexisNexis® at http://www.lexis.com/research, by clicking on States Legal-U.S./Colorado/Cases/CO Supreme Court Disciplinary Opinions from 1999.
Summaries of Decisions Issued by the Presiding Disciplinary Judge
(Through December 23, 2003)
People v. Corbin, No. 02PDJ039, 11/20/03. Attorney Disbarred.
The Hearing Board disbarred Respondent Charles C. Corbin, attorney registration number 16382, following a sanctions hearing in this default proceeding. While under suspension in the state of Colorado, respondent filed appearances in twelve trademark matters before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office ("PTO"), in violation of the rules governing the practice of law and relevant federal regulations. See 37 C.F.R. § 2.11 (2003). According to these regulatory provisions, the respondent could only practice before the PTO in trademark cases if he was in good standing of the Bar of any U.S. court or the highest court of any state. Evidence was presented that established the respondent was not in good standing in any court at the time of the incidents in question. Respondent continued to hold himself out as an attorney after his suspension in Colorado. In doing so, respondent violated Colo. RPC 5.5(a). Respondent’s failure to notify one client that he was suspended from the practice of law in Colorado and that he could not practice before the PTO in the area of trademark law constituted a violation of Colo. RPC 8.4(c). Respondent also violated Colo. RPC 3.4(c) by accepting new matters while under suspension. In arriving at the sanction of disbarment, the Hearing Board considered respondent’s prior three-year suspension. Disbarment was effective thirty-one days from the date of the Order. Respondent was ordered to pay the costs of the disciplinary proceeding. p.117.
People v. Fitzke, No. 03PDJ050, 12/17/03. Attorney Readmitted to the Practice of Law.
Ronald S. Fitzke, attorney registration number 35293, was readmitted to the practice of law effective December 22, 2003. Readmission was effective upon compliance with requirements set forth by the Court. p.121.
People v. Peters; People v. Kusick, Jr., No. 03PDJ010, 12/23/04. Public Censures.
Following a trial, the Hearing Board issued public censures as to Respondents William E. Peters and Edward C. Kusick, Jr. Peters is a former law partner of Kusick. Kusick had been suspended from the practice of law for a period of thirty-six months, beginning July 7, 2001. Prior to his suspension, Kusick—through his professional corporation—filed numerous suits against his former clients for fees owed. After the effective date of suspension, Peters agreed to represent Kusick and Edward C. Kusick, Jr., P.C. in pursuing the fees. Because of the volume of documents to be served in numerous lawsuits, Peters devised a method for completing an affidavit of service—a blank form for all relevant information. Peters prepared a second form with blanks for all the relevant information that indicated the correct individual had been served. Peters hired a process server. The process server signed a blank affidavit form for every person he had served since his last visit, and provided the information pertaining to service to Peters on the forms Peters had developed. Kusick, Peters, or both of them took completed, pre-signed affidavits to three notaries to have the process server’s signature notarized, without requiring that the process server be present. Peters then caused the notarized, pre-signed affidavits to be filed with the court approximately 349 times in approximately 187 separate lawsuits. When a question arose as to the adequacy of service, Peters confessed the dismissal of certain cases, agreed to vacate hearings, or moved to vacate all matters in which a default had entered. Peters undertook this remedial action voluntarily and at his own expense. Peters and Kusick’s collective attempt to quickly process affidavits of service by having the notaries notarize the process server’s signature when he was physically absent amounted to a violation of Colo. RPC 8.4(b), Colo. RPC 8.4(c), and Colo. RPC 8.4(d) on Peters’ part, and a violation of Colo. RPC 8.4(b) on Kusick’s part. Public censure for both respondents was effective thirty-one days from the date of the Order. Respondents were ordered to pay the costs of the disciplinary action. p.124.
Summaries of Decisions Regarding Conditional Admissions of Misconduct
Issued by the Presiding Disciplinary Judge
(Through December 29, 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. Essling, No. 03PDJ052, 12/29/03. Attorney Suspended.
The Presiding Disciplinary Judge approved the party’s Conditional Admission of Misconduct and suspended Respondent Timothy J. Essling, attorney registration number 12785, from the practice of law for a period of sixty days, all stayed upon completion of a one-year period of probation that is subject to conditions. Respondent failed to pay the fees due to a special advocate appointed by the court in a custody proceeding. Respondent was ordered to pay the costs of the disciplinary proceeding.
People v. Kuvin, No. 03PDJ103, 12/29/03. Attorney Suspended.
The Presiding Disciplinary Judge approved the party’s Conditional Admission of Misconduct and suspended Respondent Lawrence P. Kuvin, attorney registration number 16656, from the practice of law for a period of forty-five days, all stayed upon completion of a one-year period of probation that is subject to conditions. Respondent was subject to an order to pay temporary maintenance in his dissolution of marriage proceeding and failed to do so, in violation of Colo. RPC 3.4(c). He is currently in compliance with the relevant court order. Respondent was ordered to pay the costs of the disciplinary proceeding.
People v. Park, No. 03PDJ098, 12/29/03. Attorney Suspended.
The Presiding Disciplinary Judge approved the party’s Conditional Admission of Misconduct and suspended Respondent Matthew S. Park, attorney registration number 31715, from the practice of law for a period of ninety days, all stayed upon completion of a two-year period of probation that is subject to conditions. Two individuals sought respondent’s representation in drafting formal documents for the sale of a business. Respondent declined representation, but permitted two non-lawyers in his office to draft and deliver certain documents necessary for the closing to the individuals seeking representation. Respondent was paid $500 for the work performed by his two employees. Respondent violated Colo. RPC 5.5(b) by knowingly assisting persons who were not members of the Colorado Bar in the performance of an activity that constituted the unauthorized practice of law. Respondent also failed to keep adequate records concerning his trust account, in violation of Colo. RPC 1.15(g), and commingled some of his own funds with client funds in his trust account. Respondent was ordered to pay the costs of the disciplinary proceeding.
People v. Wimmershoff, No. 03PDJ043, 12/29/03. Three-Year Attorney Suspension.
The Presiding Disciplinary Judge approved the party’s Conditional Admission of Misconduct and suspended Respondent Nicholas A. Wimmershoff, attorney registration number 09538, from the practice of law for a period of three years. Respondent transferred funds belonging to clients held in his trust account to his personal account, causing an overdraft. Respondent commingled client funds with his personal funds, negligently converted a portion of client funds, failed to keep adequate records with regard to his trust account, and attempted to improperly influence the testimony of his former associate after she contacted the Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel regarding respondent. Respondent’s conduct violated Colo. RPC 1.15(a), Colo. RPC 8.4(c), Colo. RPC 1.15(g), Colo. RPC 8.1, Colo. RPC 8.4(d), and Colo. RPC 8.4(h).
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