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TCL > August 2001 Issue > Summaries of Opinions

The Colorado Lawyer
August 2001
Vol. 30, No. 8 [Page  135]

© 2001 The Colorado Lawyer and Colorado Bar Association. All Rights Reserved.

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From the Courts
Colorado Disciplinary Cases

Summaries of Opinions

Colorado Supreme Court
Presiding Disciplinary Judge

Summaries of Disciplinary Opinions

 




Summaries of opinions appear on a space-available basis. The summaries for the Presiding Disciplinary Judge and hearing board are prepared by the Office of the Presiding Disciplinary Judge, and the summaries for the Appellate Discipline Commission are prepared by the Office of the Appellate Discipline Commission. The summaries of the opinions of the Presiding Disciplinary Judge and the Appellate Discipline Commission are provided as a service by the Colorado Bar Association and are not the official language of the Opinion. The Colorado Bar Association cannot guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the summaries.

Unless otherwise noted, full copies of the opinions follow the summaries pages. The summaries and full-text opinions are also available on the CBA homepage at http://www.cobar.org/tcl/index.htm. See page 112 for details


Summary of Decisions Issued by the Presiding Disciplinary Judge
(May 21, 2001 through June 20, 2001)

Donadio v. People, No. 01PDJ032, 6/8/01. Attorney Regulation.

The Presiding Disciplinary Judge reinstated Bruce J. Donadio to the practice of law effective June 8, 2001. p.137.

People v. Gray, No. 00PDJ040, 6/6/01. Attorney Regulation.

The Presiding Disciplinary Judge and Hearing Board members imposed a public censure on Marci S. Gray for misconduct arising during her employment by Mark Field in a collections practice. Prior to Field’s suspension from the practice of law, Gray worked as Field’s secretary, even though she had recently obtained her license to practice law. When Field was suspended, Field and Gray discussed the ramifications of his suspension on their law practice. Field asked Gray and Gray agreed to take over the practice of law aspects of the office during Field’s suspension; he would work as a paralegal, bookkeeper, and secretary under her supervision. The clients were notified of this arrangement. One of Field’s clients sought a substantial reduction in fees charged on her collection matters. Field disputed the reduction. Gray and Field claimed to be owed a certain amount, deposited funds in escrow, and withdrew a portion of that amount to pay outstanding fees due to them, based on research Field and Gray conducted regarding attorney’s liens. They became convinced that they could take possession of funds generated from judgments and use those funds to pay their own outstanding legal fees. Gray’s failure to segregate the disputed funds violated Colo. RPC 1.15(c). Gray violated Colo. RPC 1.15(d) by failing to maintain client funds in an interest-bearing account. Gray violated Colo. RPC 5.3(b) by delegating to Field the responsibility of holding the client’s property in an interest-bearing account and allowing him to open an account to hold the disputed funds upon which she was not a signatory and over which she had no control. Gray technically converted the funds belonging to the client, in violation of Colo. RPC 8.4(c). Gray’s participation in the practice of law under the name "Field & Associates," knowing that Field was suspended, including using letterhead under that name and allowing Field to sign correspondence on that letterhead without an appropriate designation of Field’s suspension, constitutes a violation of Colo. RPC 7.5(a). The charge of Colo. RPC 1.5(a) alleging that Gray charged an unreasonable fee was dismissed. Respondent was ordered to pay the costs of the proceedings. p.138.

People v. Mercer, No. 00PDJ009, 5/25/01. Attorney Regulation.

The Presiding Disciplinary Judge and Hearing Board members dismissed the alleged violations of Colo. RPC 7.3(a), Colo. RPC 1.7(a), Colo. RPC 8.4(c), Colo. RPC 5.4(a), Colo. RPC 5.5(b), Colo. RPC 1.3, and Colo. RPC 8.4(d) against Respondent Craig William Mercer arising out of two separate matters. p.144.

 

Summaries of Decisions Regarding Conditional Admissions of Misconduct
Issued by the Presiding Disciplinary Judge

(May 21, 2001 through June 20, 2001)

[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 Lexis-Nexis at 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. Auxier, No. 01PDJ001, 5/21/01. Attorney Regulation.

The Presiding Disciplinary Judge accepted the parties’ Conditional Admission of Misconduct and suspended Respondent Jeffrey S. Auxier from the practice of law for a period of six months, with the full period of suspension stayed upon successful completion of a one-year period of probation, subject to conditions. Respondent violated Colo. RPC 1.3 by allowing a matter to be dismissed twice due to respondent’s failure to prosecute and by failing to timely file a notice of appeal. Respondent was ordered to pay the costs of the proceeding.

People v. Escamilla, No. 00PDJ078, 5/30/01. Attorney Regulation.

The Presiding Disciplinary Judge accepted the parties’ Conditional Admission of Misconduct and suspended Respondent Samuel Reyes Escamilla from the practice of law for a period of one year and one day, with nine months and one day stayed, followed by a two-year period of probation. In one matter, respondent violated Colo. RPC 1.3 by filing a petition for dissolution of marriage on behalf of the client and thereafter taking no action on the matter, resulting in the matter being dismissed for defendant’s failure to prosecute. Respondent also violated RPC 1.4(a) by failing to communicate with the client. In a second matter, respondent was hired to represent a client in a dissolution of marriage action and thereafter failed to communicate with the client despite her repeated attempts to contact him, in violation of Colo. RPC 1.4(a). In a third matter, respondent violated Colo. RPC 1.5 by charging an unreasonable fee while representing a client in the defense of federal criminal drug charges, in which he neglected the client’s matter and failed to provide competent representation. Respondent was ordered to pay the costs of the proceedings.

People v. Kusick, No. 01PDJ021, 6/6/01. Attorney Regulation.

The Presiding Disciplinary Judge accepted the parties’ Conditional Admission of Misconduct and suspended Respondent Edward C. "Bo" Kusick, Jr. from the practice of law for a period of three years, subject to conditions. In one matter, respondent violated Colo. RPC 1.3 by neglecting a client’s personal injury matter for over two years, by failing to communicate with insurance representatives, by failing to engage in settlement discussions, by failing to gather adequate medical information on the client, and by failing to file and proceed on the client’s lawsuit. Respondent violated Colo. RPC 1.4(a) by failing to keep the client reasonably informed as to whether he would be appearing on her behalf and clarifying their fee agreement. Respondent violated Colo. RPC 1.5(a) by failing to honor the fee agreement with the client, and violated Colo. RPC 5.1(b) by failing to make reasonable efforts to ensure that his associate attorneys conformed to the Colorado Rules of Professional Conduct with regard to adequate preparation, diligence, and reasonable communication with a client. On two occasions, respondent undertook representation of two clients seeking reinstatement of their driver’s licenses, accepted payment for the matters and subsequently did nothing on their matters, in violation of Colo. RPC 1.3; failed to keep the clients reasonably informed, in violation of Colo. RPC 1.4(a); charged an unreasonable fee by accepting payment from the clients; and failed to render any services in the matters, in violation of Colo. RPC 1.5(a). In one of the two matters, respondent failed to surrender the client’s advance payment fee upon termination, when requested by the client, and failed to provide an accounting, in violation of Colo. RPC 1.16(d). In a separate matter, respondent undertook representation of a client with several charges involving driving while under the influence of alcohol. Respondent failed to timely file an entry of appearance and waiver of arraignment and failed to take further action after filing an entry of appearance, in violation of Colo. RPC 1.3, and failed to communicate with the client, in violation of Colo. RPC 1.4(a). Respondent charged an unreasonable fee, in violation of Colo. RPC 1.5(a), by accepting an advance fee and taking no action in the matter. In another matter, respondent accepted a retainer in a matter involving a client with multiple driving offenses, but failed to enter his appearance in either case pending against him, failed to notify the jails where his client was incarcerated of his representation, failed to obtain release information, failed to take action on the client’s motion for reconsideration of the sentence until over three months after he was hired, and failed to confer any benefit on the client. In another matter, respondent accepted a retainer for representation of the client, failed to communicate with the client, in violation of Colo. RPC 1.4(a), and failed to refund the retainer when requested, in violation of Colo. RPC 1.16(d). Respondent was ordered to pay restitution and the costs of the proceeding.

People v. Madsen, No. 01PDJ004, 5/30/01. Attorney Regulation.

The Presiding Disciplinary Judge accepted the parties’ Conditional Admission of Misconduct and disbarred Respondent Robert M. Madsen from the practice of law. Respondent violated Colo. RPC 8.4(c) by making unauthorized charges on his law firm credit card for his personal use, by knowingly taking money from his law firm’s line of credit without authorization for his personal use, by knowingly writing insufficient fund checks to a racetrack, intending to defraud the racetrack, and by forging or otherwise writing unauthorized checks from his law firm’s operating account. Respondent’s actions constituted conversion of law firm funds or respondent’s law partner’s funds. Additionally, respondent borrowed money from a client and failed to comply with the requirements of Colo. RPC 1.8(a), and engaged in a sexual relationship with a client, in violation of Colo. RPC 8.4(h). Respondent was ordered to pay the costs of the proceeding.

People v. Weisbard, No. 00PDJ069, 6/13/01. Attorney Regulation.

The Presiding Disciplinary Judge accepted the parties’ Conditional Admission of Misconduct and suspended Respondent Robert J. Weisbard from the practice of law for a period of eighteen months. Respondent violated Colo. RPC 1.3 by failing to prepare a written stipulation and order after having been ordered to do so by the court, and by neglecting to take timely action on a motion to modify child support. Respondent also violated Colo. RPC 3.4(c) and Colo. RPC 8.4(d) by repeatedly disobeying orders of the court. Respondent violated Colo. RPC 1.16(a)(3) by failing to move to withdraw from representing his client after being requested to do so. Respondent violated Colo. RPC 1.4(a) by failing to communicate with the client. In a separate matter, respondent violated Colo. RPC 1.3 by failing to prepare financial information disclosure documents and failing to timely prepare and follow through on a Qualified Domestic Relations Order. He violated Colo. RPC 1.4(a) by failing to inform his client of an order requiring exchange of financial information, and by not informing the client of his failure to prepare the required disclosure document. Respondent was ordered to pay the costs of the proceeding.


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