Vol. 34, No. 9
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 July 2005)
People v. Meier, No. 04PDJ109, 06/27/2005. Attorney Reinstatement Denied.
Upon conclusion of a Reinstatement Hearing for Charles H. Meier, Jr., registration number 23544, the Hearing Board denied petitioner’s Verified Petition for Reinstatement. The Court previously suspended petitioner for one year and one day following the Court’s acceptance of a stipulated Conditional Admission of Misconduct in case number 00PDJ043. The underlying case involved a conviction for third-degree sexual assault in November 1999. Petitioner never admitted to committing third-degree sexual assault, but did acknowledge his inappropriate behavior.
In the Reinstatement Hearing, the Hearing Board found petitioner’s proof of rehabilitation, namely his own testimony, fell short of the burden of clear and convincing evidence. Petitioner’s corroborative and illustrative evidence also fell short of this burden.
The Hearing Board commended Petitioner for his progress and encouraged continued growth. The Hearing Board ordered Petitioner to pay the costs incurred in conjunction with this proceeding.
Summaries of Decisions Regarding Conditional Admission of Misconduct
Issued by the Presiding Disciplinary Judge
(Through July 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. Matthews, No. 05PDJ030, 07/07/2005. Attorney Suspended.
Following a hearing, the Presiding Disciplinary Judge approved the parties’ Conditional Admission of Misconduct and suspended Elizabeth B. Matthews, registration number 08836, from the practice of law for a period of two years. Suspension was effective July 31, 2005.
This proceeding arises from nine client matters. Respondent’s misconduct included neglect of entrusted legal matters, failure to properly communicate with clients, failure to take reasonably practicable steps to protect client interests, knowing disobedience of an obligation under the rules of a tribunal, and assisting in the unauthorized practice of law. Thus, respondent violated Colo. RPC 1.3, Colo. RPC 1.4(a) and (b), Colo. RPC 1.16(d), Colo. RPC 3.4(c), and Colo. RPC 5.5(a).
Respondent suffered severe health problems throughout the time of her misconduct. The misconduct followed more than twenty years of service to the profession. The Court ordered respondent to provide proof of restitution prior to reinstatement, and pay the costs incurred in conjunction with this proceeding.
People v. Solomon, No. 05PDJ050, 07/19/2005. Attorney Suspension Stayed Pending Successful Completion of Probation.
The Presiding Disciplinary Judge approved the parties’ Conditional Admission of Misconduct and suspended David Albert Solomon, registration number 03176, from the practice of law for a period of six months, effective August 19, 2005. The entire suspension is stayed pending successful completion of a one-year period of probation.
This proceeding arises from respondent’s misconduct concerning his client in a marriage dissolution case. Respondent failed to respond to a Delay Prevention Order issued by the court and failed to notify his client of the subsequent dismissal of her case. Respondent failed to return his client’s phone calls and failed to communicate with his client for an extended period of time. Thus, respondent violated Colo. RPC 1.3 (neglect of an entrusted legal matter); Colo. RPC 1.4(a) (failure to keep client reasonably informed and promptly comply with reasonable requests for information); and Colo. RPC 1.16(d) (failure to take reasonably practicable steps to protect a client’s interest).
Conditions of probation include successful completion of an Ethics School and payment of restitution. The Court also ordered respondent to pay the costs incurred in conjunction with this proceeding.
People v. Tenbrink, No. 05PDJ019, 07/01/2005. Attorney Suspension Stayed Pending Successful Completion of Probation.
The Presiding Disciplinary Judge approved the parties’ Conditional Admission of Misconduct and suspended Cory Burton Tenbrink, registration number 28100, from the practice of law for a period of one year and one day, effective August 1, 2005. The entire suspension is stayed pending successful completion of a one-year period of probation.
This proceeding arises from a business transaction where respondent acquired the residence of his clients and later resold it below market value in order to collect claimed attorney fees. Respondent entered into an unfair and unreasonable business transaction with his clients, and failed to fully disclose and transmit in writing the terms of this business transaction. Respondent also failed to advise his clients of the benefits of using independent counsel, and never gave them a reasonable opportunity to seek the advice of such independent counsel. Thus, respondent violated Colo. RPC 1.8(a) (entering into a business transaction with a client or knowingly acquiring a pecuniary interest adverse to a client). Conditions of probation include successful completion of an Ethics School and payment of restitution. The Court also ordered respondent to pay the costs incurred in conjunction with this proceeding.
People v. Thompson, No. 05PDJ041, 07/19/2005. Attorney Suspended.
The Presiding Disciplinary Judge approved the parties’ Conditional Admission of Misconduct and suspended Gordon S. Thompson, registration number 30904, from the practice of law for a period of three years. Suspension was effective August 19, 2005.
This proceeding arises from respondent’s misconduct in two client matters, and misconduct arising from respondent’s employment with a national prepaid legal services program. In the first client matter, respondent failed to perform legal services, made false statements concerning the progress of the case, and failed to refund unearned fees never deposited into a trust account. In a second matter, respondent failed to file a motion addressing the pre-trial confinement of his criminal client. Finally, respondent accepted numerous retainers without depositing them into a trust account, and performed legal services for a number of clients without advising his employer, a national prepaid legal services program. Thus, respondent violated Colo. RPC 1.3 (neglect of an entrusted legal matter), Colo. RPC 1.15(a) (failing to hold client funds separate from his own funds), and Colo. RPC 8.4(c) (misrepresentations to the client and misappropriation of funds). The Court ordered respondent to pay restitution and the costs incurred in conjunction with this proceeding.
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