Vol. 35, No. 10
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
People v. Thompson, No. 05PDJ077, 07/21/2006. Attorney Disbarred.
Following a sanctions hearing, the Presiding Disciplinary Judge disbarred respondent Gordon S. Thompson, attorney registration number 30904, from the practice of law. Disbarment was effective August 21, 2006.
Respondent represented a minor client, accepted retainer funds, misrepresented the status of the case with a forged document, and eventually abandoned the client without refunding the retainer funds. Respondent also failed to participate or present any mitigating evidence in these proceedings. The facts admitted by default proved violations of Colo. RPC 1.3; Colo. RPC 1.4(a); Colo. RPC 1.15(a); Colo. RPC 1.16(d); and Colo. RPC 8.4(c). Accordingly, the Presiding Disciplinary Judge found no adequate basis to depart from the presumptive sanction of disbarment.
Summaries of Decisions Regarding Conditional Admission of Misconduct Issued by the Presiding Disciplinary Judge
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. Helms, No. 06PDJ022, 08/02/2006. Attorney Suspended; Suspension Stayed Upon Completion of Two-Year Probation.
The Presiding Disciplinary Judge approved a Conditional Admission of Misconduct submitted by the parties and suspended respondent Thomas J. Helms, attorney registration number 11762, from the practice of law. Except for sixty days, the one year and one day suspension is stayed upon the successful completion of a two-year period of probation, with conditions. The sanction was effective September 2, 2006.
Respondent filed a medical malpractice lawsuit on behalf of his clients. The court dismissed the case after respondent failed to set it for trial. For the next three years, respondent continued to work on the case and represent to his clients that everything was moving along fine. Respondent’s misconduct constituted grounds for the imposition of discipline pursuant to C.R.C.P. 251.5 and violated Colo. RPC 1.3; Colo. RPC 1.4(a); and Colo. RPC 8.4(c).
People v. McMenaman, No. 06PDJ064, 08/02/2006. Attorney Suspended for Three Years.
The Presiding Disciplinary Judge approved a Conditional Admission of Misconduct submitted by the parties and suspended respondent Paul X. McMenaman, attorney registration number 16407, from the practice of law for a period of three years. Suspension was effective September 15, 2006.
In one client matter, respondent negligently converted client and third-party funds, and knowingly engaged in misrepresentation by endorsing checks without authorization. In another matter, respondent neglected legal matters, failed to communicate, and failed to promptly return files to his clients. At a hearing to set aside an order of dismissal, respondent failed to reveal to the court that he had been suspended from the practice of law at or about the time the court originally dismissed the case and, instead, only cited other truthful issues. Respondent’s misconduct constituted grounds for the imposition of discipline pursuant to C.R.C.P. 251.5 and violated Colo. RPC 1.3; Colo. RPC 1.4; Colo. RPC 1.15(a); Colo. RPC 1.16; Colo. RPC 3.3(a)(1); Colo. RPC 3.4(c); and Colo. RPC 8.4(c).
People v. Podboy, No. 06PDJ061, 08/02/2006. Attorney Suspension Stayed Upon Successful Completion of Three-Year Probation.
The Presiding Disciplinary Judge approved a Conditional Admission of Misconduct submitted by the parties and suspended respondent Ronald A. Podboy, attorney registration number 15634, from the practice of law. Suspension was for a period of five months, with the requirement of reinstatement proceedings, all stayed upon the successful completion of a three-year period of probation, subject to conditions. Sanction was effective September 2, 2006.
Respondent and another attorney represented forty-seven plaintiffs in a mass-joinder lawsuit against American Furniture Warehouse Company, beginning in December 2002. The attorneys entered into fee agreements with approximately twenty to twenty-five of the plaintiffs. These fee agreements did not conform to the rules of civil procedure. Respondent subsequently failed to communicate with forty-five clients for six months after a motion for attorney fees had been filed by the opposing party and two months after judgment actually entered against the clients. This injury has been mitigated by respondent’s agreement to indemnify all plaintiffs for their loss as a part of this stipulation. Respondent’s misconduct constituted grounds for the imposition of discipline pursuant to C.R.C.P. 251.5 and violated Colo. RPC 1.2(a); Colo. RPC 1.4(a); Colo. RPC 1.4(b); Colo. RPC 1.5(b); and Colo. RPC 1.5(c).
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