Vol. 34, No. 5
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 March 2005)
People v. Rhodes, No. 04PDJ044, 2/7/2005. Attorney Disbarred.
Upon conclusion of a sanctions hearing, the Hearing Board disbarred respondent Bradley S. Rhodes, registration no. 29960, from the practice of law, effective March 10, 2005. In addition, respondent was ordered to pay the costs incurred in this proceeding.
Respondent stipulated to the facts in the complaint. It was thereby established that respondent knowingly and intentionally misappropriated client funds for the benefit of himself and his law firm. Respondent withdrew from his trust account settlement proceeds belonging to three personal injury clients, to pay his firm’s overhead while dealing with mounting personal debt. Thus, respondent violated Colo. RPC 8.4(c) (conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, and misrepresentation), Colo. RPC 1.15(a) (failure to keep client funds separate from attorney’s own property), and Colo. RPC 1.15(b) (failure to promptly deliver client funds that the client is entitled to receive).
Respondent paid or made arrangements to pay restitution, fully disclosed his wrongdoing to disciplinary authorities, and demonstrated remorse. However, the Hearing Board determined that, in weighing all of the relevant factors, the presumptive sanction for knowing conversion (disbarment) was necessary for protection of the public. One Hearing Board member wrote a separate concurring opinion, expressing her frustration that there is no intermediate sanction (between a three-year suspension and disbarment) available to recognize the benefits of attorneys taking full responsibility for misconduct. p.135.
Summaries of Decisions Regarding Conditional Admission of Misconduct
Issued by the Presiding Disciplinary Judge
(Through March 2005)
[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. Lubowitz, No. 05PDJ022, 2/25/05. Attorney Suspended—Suspension Stayed Pending Completion of Probation.
The Presiding Disciplinary Judge approved the party’s Conditional Admission of Misconduct and suspended respondent Robert Alan Lubowitz, registration no. 05277, from the practice of law for a period of one year and one day, effective March 16, 2005. All but thirty days of the suspension is stayed pending successful completion of a one-year period of probation.
This proceeding arises out of respondent’s mishandling of a scheduling conflict. Specifically, as a court-appointed guardian ad litem in a number of dependency and neglect cases, respondent was obligated to appear in court in both Denver and Adams County on the same day. Rather than filing motions to continue, obtaining appropriate coverage, and ensuring that all reports were completed correctly, respondent gave handwritten notes to court staff and acted inappropriately toward a judge. In addition, respondent represented to the court that one of the children was doing well. In fact, respondent had not visited with the child or conducted an independent investigation of her situation.
Respondent violated Colo. RPC 8.4(d) (conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice), Colo. RPC 8.4(h) (conduct that adversely reflects on the lawyer’s fitness to practice law), and Colo. RPC 1.3 (failure to act with reasonable diligence/neglect of a legal matter). Conditions of probation include mental health evaluation and treatment. Respondent also was ordered to pay the costs incurred in conjunction with this proceeding.
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