|The Colorado Lawyer|
Vol. 34, No. 7 [Page 143]
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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 May 2005)
People v. Segall, No. 03PDJ033 (consolidated with 04PDJ078), 3/24/2005. Attorney Disbarred.
Upon conclusion of a sanctions hearing, the Presiding Disciplinary Judge disbarred respondent Steven Martin Segall, registration number 10692, from the practice of law. Disbarment is effective April 24, 2005. Respondent was ordered to pay the costs incurred in conjunction with this proceeding.
It was established through the entry of default that respondent knowingly failed to perform agreed-upon legal services in eight client matters; effectively abandoned the practice of law by engaging in a continuous pattern of neglect; misappropriated client funds by keeping unearned fees; and violated several court orders (including his own child support obligation). According to the ABA Standards for Imposing Lawyer Sanctions and controlling Colorado Supreme Court precedent, such conduct can result in disbarment.
The judge found that respondent’s conduct did warrant disbarment, as aggravating factors included prior discipline, a dishonest or selfish motive, multiple offenses/pattern of misconduct, and substantial experience in the practice of law. Respondent did not appear or present any evidence in mitigation. The Complaints in this matter, which are incorporated into the Opinion, comprise approximately sixty-five pages and are available for review at the Office of the Presiding Disciplinary Judge. p.145.
People v. Spalsbury, No. 04PDJ080, 4/12/2005. Attorney Suspended.
Upon conclusion of a sanctions hearing, a Hearing Board suspended respondent Clark S. Spalsbury, registration number 11656, from the practice of law for one year and one day. The suspension is effective May 13, 2005.
It was established by summary judgment that respondent violated Colo. RPC 3.4(c) (knowing disobedience of an obligation under the rules of a tribunal) for failure to pay court-ordered child support. Respondent did not appear at the sanctions hearing. Therefore, the Hearing Board did not receive any evidence in mitigation except for the absence of prior discipline and the previous imposition of another penalty (immediate suspension). The Hearing Board found that respondent willfully violated his duty to his children and to the court, causing injury. Aggravating factors included a selfish motive, a refusal to acknowledge the wrongful nature of his conduct, vulnerable victims, and substantial experience in the practice of law. Accordingly, the Hearing Board imposed the sanction requested by the People. Respondent may petition for early reinstatement, upon payment of all child support currently due or upon demonstration of compliance with a repayment plan. Respondent also was ordered to pay the costs incurred in conjunction with this proceeding. p.148.
Summaries of Decisions Regarding Conditional Admission of Misconduct
Issued by the Presiding Disciplinary Judge
(Through May 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. Mills, No. 05PDJ040, 5/5/2005. Attorney Suspension Stayed Pending Completion of One Year of Probation.
The Presiding Disciplinary Judge approved the Conditional Admission of Misconduct and suspended respondent Jerry E. Mills, registration number 606, from the practice of law for forty-five days, effective June 5, 2005. The suspension is stayed pending successful completion of a one-year period of probation.
This proceeding arises out of two criminal client matters. In both matters, respondent did not reduce the fee arrangement to writing and deposited yet-unearned funds into his general operating account. In one matter, respondent did not return the client’s file until eighteen months after requested to do so and twenty-one months after termination of the representation. Thus, respondent violated Colo. RPC 1.5(b) (failure to communicate basis of fee in writing within a reasonable time after commencing representation); Colo. RPC 1.15(a) (failure to hold client property separate from the attorney’s own property); and Colo. RPC 1.16(d) (failure to take reasonably practicable steps to protect a client’s interest upon termination of representation).
Conditions of probation include successful completion of a trust account course and law office audit/monitoring. Respondent also was ordered to pay the costs incurred in conjunction with this proceeding.
People v. Quimby, No. 05PDJ008, 4/25/2005. Attorney Suspension Stayed Pending Completion of One-Year Probation.
The Presiding Disciplinary Judge approved the Conditional Admission of Misconduct and suspended respondent Gregory John Quimby, registration number 24075, from the practice of law for a period of sixty days, effective May 26, 2005. The suspension is stayed pending successful completion of a one-year period of probation.
In one client matter, respondent failed to reduce the fee agreement to writing, deposited client proceeds from the sale of real estate into his operating account, unreasonably charged for processing those proceeds, and charged interest on his attorney fees. Thus, respondent violated Colo. RPC 1.5(b) (failure to communicate basis of fee in writing within a reasonable time after commencing representation); Colo. RPC 1.15(a) (failure to hold client property separate from the attorney’s own property); and Colo. RPC 1.5(a) (unreasonable fee).
In another client matter, respondent gave legal advice to a witness against his client, which resulted in her failure to appear and a warrant for her arrest. Thus, respondent violated Colo. RPC 1.7(b)(2) (representation that is materially limited by the lawyer’s responsibilities to another client without consent after consultation); and Colo. RPC 8.4(d) (conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice).
In a third client matter, respondent refused to attend mediation, allowed a paralegal to explain documents and answer questions, and did not account for the retainer fee. Thus, respondent violated Colo. RPC 1.3 (neglect of an entrusted legal matter); Colo. RPC 5.5(b) (assisting in the unauthorized practice of law); Colo. RPC 5.3(b) (failure to adequately supervise non-lawyer employee); and Colo. RPC 1.15(b) (failure to provide an accounting upon request).
Conditions of probation include successful completion of an ethics course, successful completion of a trust account course, restitution, and an accounting. Respondent also was ordered to pay the costs incurred in conjunction with this proceeding.
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