Vol. 35, No. 6
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 2006)
People v. Crews, No. 05PDJ049, 03/06/2006. Attorney Disbarred.
Following a sanctions hearing, the Presiding Disciplinary Judge disbarred respondent Richard A. Crews, attorney registration number 32472, from the practice of law. The effective date of the disbarment is April 6, 2006.
This is a reciprocal discipline action from the state of Oregon. The facts admitted through the entry of default showed that respondent committed multiple criminal acts of forgery by falsely signing adverse party signatures on various documents, including an alleged settlement agreement, a notice of appeal, and a restraining order, all of which pertained to separate legal matters. Respondent further made multiple misrepresentations to his clients regarding the forged documents and failed to pursue his clients’ legal matters. Respondent also withdrew from representing a client without taking steps to the extent reasonably practical to protect his client’s interest, and failed to promptly return his client’s property. Finally, respondent failed to respond to numerous inquiries from the Oregon Office of Disciplinary Counsel regarding his conduct. Respondent did not participate or present any mitigating evidence in these proceedings.
The admitted facts were multiple violations of Colo. RPC 1.3; Colo. RPC 1.15(b); Colo. RPC 1.16(d); Colo. RPC 8.1(b); Colo. RPC 8.4(b); and Colo. RPC 8.4(c). Consequently, the violations warrant the imposition of reciprocal discipline under C.R.C.P. 251.21. The Presiding Disciplinary Judge therefore found no adequate basis to depart from the presumptive sanction of disbarment.
People v. Walker, No. 05PDJ039, 12/27/2005. Attorney Suspended for Six Months.
Following a sanctions hearing, a Hearing Board suspended respondent Michael A. Walker, attorney registration number 024830, from the practice of law for a period of six months, with conditions of reinstatement including the requirement of filing a petition for reinstatement. The effective date of the sanction was January 26, 2006. The Hearing Board denied respondent’s Application for Stay Pending Appeal. Respondent’s suspension ultimately became effective March 31, 2006.
Respondent, an immigration attorney, violated duties to two of his clients, to the legal system, and to the legal profession by failing to diligently pursue his clients’ interests and provide competent representation. Respondent failed to promptly comply with reasonable requests for information and failed to inform his clients to the extent necessary for them to make informed decisions regarding the representation. Additionally, respondent charged an unreasonable fee, billed for work he did not complete, and failed to return a client file to the client. Respondent also engaged in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice when he tried to convince a client to withdraw his complaint filed with the Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel against respondent.
Respondent’s misconduct constituted grounds for the imposition of discipline pursuant to C.R.C.P. 251.1(b) and violated Colo. RPC 1.1; Colo. RPC 1.3; Colo. RPC 1.4(a); Colo. RPC 1.4(b); Colo. RPC 1.5(a); Colo. RPC 1.16(d); Colo. RPC 8.4(c); and Colo. RPC 8.4(d).
Summaries of Decisions Regarding Conditional Admission of Misconduct Issued by the Presiding Disciplinary Judge
(Through March 2006)
[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, 1560 Broadway, Denver, CO 80202; (303) 866-6658; http://www.coloradosupremecourt.com/PJD/pdj.htm.
People v. Bagan, No. 06PDJ002, 03/30/2006. Attorney Disbarred.
The Presiding Disciplinary Judge approved a Conditional Admission of Misconduct submitted by the parties and disbarred respondent Earl Stephen Bagan, attorney registration number 14915, from the practice of law. The effective date of disbarment is April 30, 2006.
This is a reciprocal discipline action based on respondent’s 1997 disbarment in Florida due to multiple failures to communicate with clients, respond to client inquires, and abide by client decisions concerning the objectives of representation. Respondent also never reported his discipline to the State of Colorado as required by C.R.C.P. 241.17(b) (repealed, effective January 1, 1999) or C.R.C.P. 251.21(b). The misconduct established by the discipline imposed in Florida is consistent with the law of the State of Colorado under C.R.C.P. 251.5 and the Colorado Rules of Professional Conduct.
People v. Tatum, No. 05PDJ053, 03/30/2006. Attorney Suspended for Ninety Days.
The Presiding Disciplinary Judge approved a Conditional Admission of Misconduct submitted by the parties and suspended respondent Jim Tatum, attorney registration number 17204, from the practice of law for a period of ninety days. The effective date of sanction is May 1, 2006.
Respondent knowingly violated several orders of the Water Court pertaining to his request for a ruling concerning the language of a water decree and caused that court to engage in protracted proceedings to address his disobedience. Respondent also filed frivolous actions in the district court and the Colorado Court of Appeals. In doing so, respondent engaged in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice. Respondent’s misconduct constituted grounds for the imposition of discipline pursuant to C.R.C.P. 251.5. The misconduct violated Colo. RPC 3.1; Colo. RPC 3.4(c); and Colo. RPC 8.4(d).
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