The Colorado Lawyer
Vol. 33, No. 11 [Page 153]
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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 September 2004)
People v.Woodford, No.02PDJ107 (consolidated with 03PDJ036), 7/12/04. Attorney Disbarred.
Following a sanctions hearing at which respondent did not appear, the Hearing Board disbarred respondent Robert E. Woodford, attorney registration number 16379, from the practice of law, effective August 12, 2004. In several client matters, respondent converted thousands of dollars he received from clients for work he agreed to perform but never did, in violation of Colo. RPC 8.4(c) (knowing conversion of client funds). Respondent also failed to: (1) keep client funds separate from his own property, in violation of Colo. RPC 1.15(a); (2) deposit unearned fees into a trust account, in violation of Colo. RPC 1.15(f)(1); and (3) return client funds he did not earn, in violation of Colo. RPC 1.15(b).
On numerous occasions, respondent neglected and ultimately abandoned client matters entrusted to him, in violation of Colo. RPC 1.3 (neglect of client matters). He made false statements in court proceedings, in violation of Colo. RPC 8.4(c) (conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation). He violated Colo. RPC 8.4(b) (criminal act reflecting adversely on lawyer’s honesty and fitness to practice law), by requesting a notary to notarize an unsigned document dated the previous year; and Colo. RPC 8.4(h) (other conduct reflecting adversely on lawyer’s fitness to practice law), by failing to pay an employee for her services.
Disbarment is effective thirty days from the date of the Order. Respondent is ordered to pay restitution to designated individuals in designated amounts, and is ordered to pay costs of the disciplinary proceedings. p.155.
Summaries of Decisions Regarding Conditional Admission of Misconduct
Issued by the Presiding Disciplinary Judge
(Through September 2004)
[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 at http://www.coloradosupreme court.com/PDJ/pdj.htm and 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. Campbell, No. 04PDJ071, 8/24/04. Attorney Suspended for Two Years.
The Presiding Disciplinary Judge approved the party’s Conditional Admission of Misconduct and suspended respondent Cris D. Campbell, attorney registration number 21179, from the practice of law in the state of Colorado for a period of two years. Suspension is effective September 24, 2004.
Respondent neglected several client litigation matters by failing to: file pleadings, inform clients of or prepare them for court appearances, or prepare or appear himself; answer certain discovery requests; and return client calls. Respondent failed to deposit client funds in a COLTAF account and recklessly used funds he held in trust. He charged a client for work he claimed to have done following a court appearance he missed. At the time of these events, respondent was suffering disabling mental and physical issues, which he failed to communicate to clients.
Respondent’s conduct violated Colo. RPC 8.4(d) (conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice); Colo. RPC 1.16 (failing to promptly withdraw from cases due to mental or physical problems); Colo. RPC 1.4(a) (failing to communicate with clients); Colo. RPC 1.5(a) (charging an unreasonable fee); and Colo. RPC 1.15(a) (safekeeping and accounting for client funds). Respondent was ordered to pay costs in this proceeding and comply with other conditions.
People v. Mason, No. 04PDJ021, 8/19/04. Attorney Suspension Extended.
The Presiding Disciplinary Judge approved the party’s Conditional Admission of Misconduct and suspended respondent Robert J. Mason, attorney registration number 04324, from the practice of law in the state of Colorado for five additional months. Suspension is effective June 1, 2004 to November 1, 2004.
While under a prior suspension, respondent violated Colo. RPC 3.3 (a)(1) (making a false statement of material fact or law to a tribunal) in connection with two court cases, by signing the name of another lawyer on forms without that attorney’s permission. Respondent was ordered to pay costs in the disciplinary proceedings.
People v. Ream, No. 04PDJ003, 4/19/04. One-Year Suspension Stayed Upon Completion of Probation.
The Presiding Disciplinary Judge approved the party’s Conditional Admission of Misconduct and suspended respondent Carl J. Ream, attorney registration number 19397, from the practice of law in the state of Colorado for a period of one year, all stayed upon successful completion of a one year-period of probation. Suspension is effective September 19, 2004.
A non-lawyer assistant for an immigration law center that respondent owned met directly with and entered into fee agreements with several clients, sometimes without informing respondent. In some matters, client forms and pleadings were not filed with the Immigration and Naturalization Service as promised, or the assistant filed incorrect or fraudulent documents, in addition to misappropriating client funds. In other cases, respondent was aware of the representation and took funds from clients without delivering a benefit. Several clients terminated respondent’s representation and demanded refunds but did not receive a refund, or did not receive it immediately.
Respondent’s conduct violated Colo. RPC 5.3(b) (responsibility to supervise non-lawyer associates to ensure conduct compatible with lawyer’s professional obligations), Colo. RPC 1.1 (competent representation), Colo. RPC 1.3 (neglect of entrusted legal matters), Colo. RPC 1.5(b) (written communication of basis for fees at commencement of representation), and Colo. RPC 1.15(g)(2) (required accounting records). Respondent was ordered to pay costs in the disciplinary proceeding and comply with other conditions.
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