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TCL > September 2011 Issue > Disciplinary Case Summaries

September 2011       Vol. 40, No. 9       Page  123
From the Courts
Colorado Disciplinary Cases

Disciplinary Case Summaries

The summaries of disciplinary case Opinions and 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 disciplinary Opinions, when published by the PDJ, follows the summaries page(s). The summaries and full-text Opinions also are accessible from the CBA website: www.cobar.org (click on "Opinions/Rules/Statutes"). Opinions, including exhibits, complaints, amended complaints, and summaries, also are available at the PDJ website, www.coloradosupremecourt.com/PDJ/pdj.htm, and on LexisNexis.®


Summaries of Decisions Issued by the PDJ

No. 09PDJ042 (consolidated with 09PDJ092). People v. Head. 05/18/2010. Attorney Publicly Censured.

The hearing board publicly censured John Frederic Head, attorney registration number 03077. Respondent failed to reduce a flat-fee agreement to writing and deposited his client’s advance fee into an operating account, refunding the sum eight months after his client requested return of her money. In an unrelated matter, respondent collected money from clients to pay their third-party vendor costs for service of process, but failed to timely remit those funds to the third-party vendor. Respondent’s misconduct constituted grounds for the imposition of discipline pursuant to C.R.C.P. 251.5, and violated Colo. RPC 1.5(b), 1.15(a), (b), and (c), and 1.16(d).

No. 11PDJ046. People v. Ivker. 06/28/2011. Attorney Reinstated.

The PDJ reinstated Richard Neil Ivker, attorney registration number 10950, to the practice of law effective July 13, 2011. No opinion was issued.

No. 10PDJ021. People v. Preston. 11/12/2010. Attorney Publicly Censured.

The hearing board publicly censured James E. Preston, attorney registration number 20578. Respondent violated the Twenty-Second Judicial District’s Administrative Order 94-03 by repeatedly faxing nonemergency pleadings for filing and by refusing to pay the fees associated with the court’s receipt and handling of those faxed pleadings. Respondent’s pattern of ignoring the court’s mandates and billing invoices, rather than pursuing available avenues to challenge or otherwise seek relief from the court’s orders, flagrantly contravened professional norms and constituted conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice, in violation of Colo. RPC 8.4(d).

No. 10PDJ074. People v. Smollen. 06/2/2011. Attorney Suspended.

Following a sanctions hearing, the PDJ suspended Lindasue Smollen, attorney registration number 13083, for thirty days. The suspension was effective July 3, 2011.

Respondent knowingly failed to respond to two key motions in a child support matter and knowingly failed to protect her client’s interest when she ignored subsequent counsel’s request to stipulate to substitution of counsel. Her misconduct constituted grounds for the imposition of discipline pursuant to C.R.C.P. 251.5, and violated Colo. RPC 1.1, 1.3, 1.16(a)(3) and (d), and 8.4(d).

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Summaries of Decisions Regarding
Conditional Admission of Misconduct Issued by the PDJ

The PDJ’s approval of a Conditional Admission 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 PDJ, 1560 Broadway, Ste. 675, Denver, CO 80202; (303) 866-6658; www.coloradosupremecourt.com/PDJ/pdj.htm. They also are available on LexisNexis.®

No. 11PDJ049. People v. Buckingham. 06/21/2011. Attorney Suspended.

The PDJ approved a Conditional Admission of Misconduct submitted by the parties and suspended Patrick W. Buckingham, attorney registration number 09652, for one year and one day. All but six months and one day of the suspension were stayed pending the successful completion of a three-year period of probation with conditions. The sanction was effective July 22, 2011.

Respondent did not diligently or honestly represent his clients when he failed to file a notice of appeal and an appeal bond in a timely manner, and when he failed to notify his clients that the appeal had been dismissed. Respondent also pleaded guilty to a charge of driving under the influence, in violation of CRS § 42-4-1301(2)(a). His misconduct constituted grounds for the imposition of discipline pursuant to C.R.C.P. 251.5, and violated Colo. RPC 1.1, 1.2(a) and (d), 1.3, 1.4(a)(3), and 8.4(b) and (c).

No. 11PDJ038. People v. Hall. 07/12/2011. Attorney Suspended.

The PDJ approved an Amended Conditional Admission of Misconduct submitted by the parties and suspended Todd J. Hall, attorney registration number 33281, for nine months. The entire suspension, which was effective July 12, 2011, was stayed pending the successful completion of a three-year period of probation with conditions.

Respondent recklessly violated the duties he owed to his client of communication and diligence by failing to obtain a timely discharge in his client’s bankruptcy matter, thereby causing his client to expend his own time and resources to resolve the errors resulting from respondent’s misconduct. In a second client matter, respondent failed to respond to a pending motion for summary judgment, resulting in judgment being entered against his client. Respondent’s misconduct constituted grounds for the imposition of discipline pursuant to C.R.C.P. 251.5, and violated Colo. RPC 1.3 and 1.4(a)(3) and (4).

No. 11PDJ032. People v. Hernandez. 07/07/2011. Attorney Suspended.

The PDJ approved a Conditional Admission of Misconduct submitted by the parties and suspended Richard Anthony Hernandez, attorney registration number 30627, for forty-five days. The entire suspension, which was effective July 7, 2011, was stayed pending the successful completion of a one-year period of probation with conditions.

Respondent recklessly overbilled the State Court Administrator’s Office (SCAO) by failing to return sums owed to SCAO for work performed during court-appointed representations and by double-billing SCAO in certain cases. Respondent knowingly failed to segregate the fees he received from SCAO from those that were in dispute, and failed to refund those fees he owed to SCAO. His misconduct constituted grounds for the imposition of discipline pursuant to C.R.C.P. 251.5, and violated Colo. RPC 1.5(a), 8.4(d), and 1.15(c).

No. 07PDJ083. People v. Isaac. 06/21/2011. Attorney Suspended.

The PDJ approved a Conditional Admission of Misconduct submitted by the parties and suspended Lance Eldon Isaac, attorney registration number 22918, for one year and one day. The entire suspension, which was effective June 21, 2011, was stayed pending the successful completion of three-year period of probation with conditions.

Respondent failed to timely transmit his client’s child support payments to opposing counsel, resulting in a contempt citation levied against his client. This forced his client to incur costs and expenses to defend the contempt proceedings. His misconduct constituted grounds for the imposition of discipline pursuant to C.R.C.P. 251.5, and violated Colo. RPC 1.3 and 1.15(b).

No. 10PDJ037 (consolidated with 11PDJ005). People v. Morris. 07/12/2011. Attorney Suspended.

The PDJ approved a Conditional Admission of Misconduct submitted by the parties and suspended Synthia Kaye Morris, attorney registration number 18397, from the practice of law for thirty days. The entire suspension was stayed pending the successful completion of a two-year period of probation with conditions. The sanction was effective July 13, 2011.

Respondent knowingly ignored court orders and failed to appear for trial, which caused judgment to be entered against her clients. Respondent also failed to appear for a contempt hearing.

In a second client matter, respondent failed to immediately contact the district court to transmit the record, as ordered by the Colorado Court of Appeals. She also failed to file a designation of record and respond to an order to show cause in a timely manner, which delayed her client’s appellate matter.

In a third matter, respondent failed to competently represent her client in connection with an eviction proceeding. Respondent’s misconduct constituted grounds for the imposition of discipline pursuant to C.R.C.P. 251.5(a), and violated Colo. RPC 1.1, 1.3, and 8.4(d).

No. 10PDJ139. People v. Powell. 07/07/2011. Attorney Suspended.

The PDJ approved a Conditional Admission of Misconduct submitted by the parties and suspended John G. Powell, attorney registration number 17953, for six months. The entire suspension, which was effective July 7, 2011, was stayed pending the successful completion of a two-year period of probation with conditions.

Respondent knowingly caused potential injury to one of his clients by neglecting her case. He charged another client an unreasonable fee, causing substantial financial injury to this client. His misconduct constituted grounds for the imposition of discipline pursuant to C.R.C.P. 251.5, and violated Colo. RPC 1.1, 1.3, 1.4(a)(2)–(4), 1.15(b), 1.16(d), and 8.4(c).

No. 11PDJ016. People v. Smith III. 07/12/2011. Attorney Suspended.

The PDJ approved a Conditional Admission of Misconduct submitted by the parties and suspended Floyd L. Smith III, attorney registration number 8477, for six months. The entire suspension, which was effective July 12, 2011, was stayed pending the successful completion of a two-year period of probation with conditions.

Respondent knowingly violated his duties of loyalty and conflict-free representation when, in a loan transaction, he acted in a representative capacity for the lender while simultaneously representing the debtor. His misconduct constituted grounds for the imposition of discipline pursuant to C.R.C.P. 251.5, and violated Colo. RPC 1.7(a) (2007) and (2008), and 4.3 (2007) and (2008).

No. 10PDJ029. People v. Tauger. 06/22/2011. Attorney Suspended.

The PDJ approved a Stipulation and Agreement Concerning Sanction submitted by the parties and suspended Michael J. Tauger, attorney registration number 01902, for eighteen months, with conditions of reinstatement. The suspension was effective July 23, 2011.

The facts and rule violations contained in the complaint were established by clear and convincing evidence by way of default. Respondent shared an office space and a legal assistant with another attorney. The attorney provided respondent half of the assistant’s withholding taxes, but respondent failed to pay the withholding taxes and used the funds given to him by the attorney for other purposes. 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) and (c).

No. 11PDJ055. People v. West. 07/12/2011. Attorney’s Probation Extended.

The PDJ approved a Conditional Admission of Misconduct submitted by the parties. In case number 09PDJ005, the probation of Carl S. West, attorney registration number 23435, was extended for one year, with conditions. The sanction was effective October 7, 2012.

Respondent pleaded guilty to driving while ability impaired, in violation of CRS § 42-4-130(1)(b). Respondent’s misconduct constituted grounds for the imposition of discipline pursuant to C.R.C.P. 251.5(a) and (b), and violated Colo. RPC 8.4(b).

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