Vol. 36, No. 3
From the Courts
Colorado Disciplinary Cases
Disciplinary Case Summaries
The summaries of disciplinary case Opinions and summaries of Conditional Admissions of Misconduct are prepared by the Office of the Presiding Disciplinary Judge (PDJ) and are provided as a service by the Colorado Bar Association (CBA). The CBA cannot guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the summaries.
The full text of the Opinions follows the summaries pages. The full-text of the disciplinary Opinions follows the summaries pages. The summaries and full-text Opinions also are accessible from the CBA website: http://www.cobar.org (click on The Colorado Lawyer tab, then the appropriate issue). Opinions, including exhibits, complaints, amended complaints, and summaries, also are available at the Office of the PDJ 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 Conditional Admissions of Misconduct
The PDJ’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, Ste. 675, Denver, CO 80202; (303) 866-6658; http://www.coloradosupremecourt.com/PDJ/pdj.htm. They are also available on LexisNexis® 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. Cimino, No. 06PDJ101, 01/16/2007. Public Censure.
The Presiding Disciplinary Judge approved a Conditional Admission of Misconduct submitted by the parties and publicly censured John A. Cimino, attorney registration number 14032. Sanction was effective January 16, 2007. Respondent also is subject to conditions as a part of his public censure, including ethics school, financial monitoring, and law office auditing.
In one client matter, respondent negligently failed to file a response to a dissolution petition and his client lost the ability to present evidence in the case. Respondent refunded his client’s entire retainer fee. In a second client matter, unbeknownst to respondent, on November 9, 2005, someone in his office accepted a $300 retainer for representation in an ongoing bankruptcy case. Respondent personally met with the prospective client and gave her advice about bankruptcy on December 12, 2005. However, respondent inappropriately handled the $300 retainer fee, because he should have known in November 2005 that he had been paid the fee. He should have supervised his staff or trained them to inform him about the payment.
Respondent’s misconduct constituted grounds for the imposition of discipline pursuant to C.R.C.P. 251.5. His misconduct violated Colo. RPC 1.3; Colo. RPC 5.3(a); and Colo. RPC 5.3(b).
People v. Reid, No. 07PDJ002, 01/18/2007. Attorney Suspended.
The Presiding Disciplinary Judge approved a Conditional Admission of Misconduct submitted by the parties and suspended John Edward Reid, attorney registration number 04615, from the practice of law for a period of ninety days, forty-five days of which are stayed on the successful completion of a one-year period of probation. Suspension was effective February 18, 2007.
A client asked respondent to revise her will such that respondent would be nominated as her personal representative and at the same time designated as her sole devisee. Respondent prepared a draft of a new will fulfilling his client’s request and gave it to her, but he also insisted she contact a different attorney for the preparation and execution of her new will. The client eventually executed the will prepared by respondent with another attorney.
No evidence exists that respondent exerted any fraud, duress, coercion, and/or undue influence over his client, despite the conflict of interest. In fact, respondent is consensually joining in a motion to withdraw his petition for formal probate of the will and for his appointment as personal representative, and has agreed to disclaim any interest in Ms. Pierce’s estate.
Respondent’s misconduct constituted grounds for the imposition of discipline pursuant to C.R.C.P. 251.5. His misconduct violated Colo. RPC 1.8.
People v. Ross, No. 06PDJ076, 12/04/2006. Attorney Suspended.
The Presiding Disciplinary Judge approved a Conditional Admission of Misconduct submitted by the parties and suspended Eric Paul Ross, attorney registration number 10344, from the practice of law for a period of six months, with the requirement of a reinstatement hearing pursuant to C.R.C.P. 251.29(c). Suspension was effective January 4, 2007.
Respondent has been on inactive status since July 26, 1991. Despite being on inactive status, respondent was appointed and accepted appointments in four matters, two of which involved the same substantive issues. Respondent admitted that he knew he was on inactive status when he handled the four cases and did not request payment on the cases because he knew he had done something wrong. Respondent’s misconduct constituted grounds for the imposition of discipline pursuant to C.R.C.P. 251.5 and violated Colo. RPC 3.4(c) and Colo. RPC 5.5(a).
People v. Turner, No. 05PDJ080 (consolidated with Nos. 05PDJ083 and 06PDJ089), 11/09/2006. Attorney Suspended.
The Presiding Disciplinary Judge approved a Conditional Admission of Misconduct submitted by the parties and suspended Heather J. Turner, attorney registration number 17088, from the practice of law for a period of thirty months, with conditions of reinstatement. Suspension was effective November 9, 2006.
Respondent engaged in several instances of misconduct involving more than twenty clients, most involving her neglect of legal matters and failure to return client files and fees. She also engaged in criminal conduct and pled guilty to fraud by check, a Class 2 misdemeanor.
Respondent’s misconduct constituted grounds for the imposition of discipline pursuant to C.R.C.P. 251.5. Her misconduct violated Colo. RPC 1.3; Colo. RPC 1.4(a); Colo. RPC 1.5(a) and (b); Colo. RPC 1.15(a); Colo. 1.16(d); Colo. RPC 3.4(d); Colo. RPC 8.4(b); and Colo. RPC 8.4(c). The Presiding Disciplinary Judge approved the proposed stipulation in part due to the significant mitigating factors of respondent’s mental health during the misconduct, and her subsequent full and free disclosure in the disciplinary proceedings.
People v. Wuthrich, No. 06PDJ078, 12/04/2006. Attorney Suspended.
The Presiding Disciplinary Judge approved a Conditional Admission of Misconduct submitted by the parties and suspended Todd Eric Wuthrich, attorney registration number 33308, from the practice of law for a period of three years. Suspension was effective December 4, 2006.
Respondent worked in Lindon, Utah for a business called "For Every Body" from June 2000 to July 2001. From June 2001 to February 2002, respondent fraudulently transferred money from his employer’s business accounts into three of his own personal accounts. Respondent became licensed to practice law in Colorado during the course of these fraudulent transfers.
On September 3, 2002, respondent pled guilty to second-degree felony theft in the state of Utah. His felony conviction has since been reduced to a misdemeanor conviction and he completed full restitution on March 8, 2006. Respondent’s misconduct constituted grounds for the imposition of discipline pursuant to C.R.C.P. 251.5 and violated Colo. RPC 8.4(b). He also violated C.R.C.P. 251.20(b) by failing to report his conviction to the Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel.
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