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TCL > December 2012 Issue > Disciplinary Case Summaries

December 2012       Vol. 41, No. 12       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. 12PDJ019. People v. Lenihan. 10/05/2012. Attorney Suspended.

The PDJ approved a conditional admission of misconduct submitted by the parties and suspended Theodora H. Lenihan, attorney registration number 42886, for sixty days. The suspension was effective November 9, 2012.

Lenihan failed to certify that she was in compliance with trust account management procedures required by the Oregon bar. She also failed to respond to lawful inquiries made by the Oregon bar. The Supreme Court of Oregon suspended her for sixty days. Her misconduct constituted grounds for the imposition of reciprocal discipline pursuant to CRCP 251.21(e).

No. 12PDJ021, consolidated with No. 12PDJ043. People v. Staab. 09/25/2012. Attorney Suspended.

The PDJ suspended Martin R. Staab, attorney registration number 16218, for one year and one day. The suspension was effective October 30, 2012.

Staab failed to diligently represent the interests of two clients. He also neglected to communicate with them about the status of their matters. In one of those matters, he made false statements to his client about the setting of a trial date. Staab did not cooperate with the disciplinary investigation, nor did he participate in the disciplinary proceeding. His misconduct constituted grounds for the imposition of discipline pursuant to CRCP 251.5, and violated Colo. RPC 1.3; 1.4(a); 1.16(d); 3.2; 8.1(b); and 8.4(c) and (d).

No. 11PDJ076, consolidated with No. 12PDJ028. People v. Verce. 06/11/2012. Attorney Suspended.

The PDJ suspended Joseph James Verce, attorney registration number 12084, for one year and one day. The suspension was effective July 17, 2012.

Verce knowingly disobeyed a court order to pay child support and owed approximately $15,000 in child support arrearages. His misconduct constituted grounds for the imposition of discipline pursuant to CRCP 251.5, and violated Colo. RPC 3.4(c) 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. 12PDJ074. People v. Carnahan. 10/10/2012. Attorney Suspended.

The PDJ approved a conditional admission of misconduct submitted by the parties and suspended Joy L. Carnahan, attorney registration number 20743, for one year and one day, with four months to be served and eight months and one day to be stayed pending successful completion of a two-year period of probation, with conditions. The sanction was effective October 10, 2012.

Carnahan pleaded guilty to a charge of obtaining a controlled substance by fraud or deceit, in violation of CRS § 18-18-415(1)(a)—a class 6 felony. The El Paso County District Court imposed a deferred judgment and sentence. Her misconduct constituted grounds for the imposition of discipline pursuant to CRCP 251.5, and violated Colo. RPC 8.4(b) and (c).

No. 12PDJ065. People v. Denton. 09/25/2012. Attorney Publicly Censured.

The PDJ approved a conditional admission of misconduct submitted by the parties and publicly censured Gordon Bradford Denton II, attorney registration number 23960. The sanction was effective October 30, 2012.

On June 1, 2012, the Supreme Court of Iowa issued an order publicly reprimanding Denton for violating Iowa rules pertaining to attorney trust accounts. His misconduct constituted grounds for the imposition of reciprocal discipline pursuant to CRCP 251.21.

No. 12PDJ058. People v. Leal. 10/11/2012. Attorney Suspended.

The PDJ approved a conditional admission of conduct submitted by the parties and suspended Carlos Leal III, attorney registration number 21937, for one year and one day, all stayed pending successful completion of a three-year period of probation, with conditions. The sanction was effective October 11, 2012.

Leal violated a court order to pay monthly child support and maintenance to his ex-wife. In addition, while administratively suspended for failure to pay registration fees and failure to comply with continuing legal education requirements, he entered an appearance on behalf of a client and filed motions in that client’s case. His misconduct constituted grounds for the imposition of discipline pursuant to CRCP 251.5, and violated Colo. RPC 3.4(c); 5.5(a)(1); and 8.4(d).

No. 12PDJ060. People v. Melberg. 09/25/2012. Attorney Suspended. The PDJ approved a conditional admission of misconduct and suspended Jeanne Diane Melberg, attorney registration number 36161, for one year and one day, all but six months and one day stayed pending the successful completion of a two-year period of probation. The sanction was effective October 25, 2012.

Melberg pledged to render exclusive and full-time services to the law firm where she was an associate attorney. In violation of that agreement, she opened her own law firm and knowingly diverted revenue from her employer’s law firm to her own firm. Her misconduct constituted grounds for the imposition of discipline pursuant to CRCP 251.5, and violated Colo. RPC 8.4(c).

No. 12PDJ033. People v. Romero. 09/25/2012. Attorney Publicly Censured.

The PDJ approved a conditional admission of misconduct submitted by the parties and publicly censured Douglas L. Romero, attorney registration number 35464. The sanction was effective September 25, 2012.

Romero failed to advise his clients that their interests might be compromised by being called as witnesses in matters against one another. Romero also neglected to adequately keep track of disbursements made on behalf of one of his clients. Romero’s negligent record-keeping may have resulted in the negligent conversion of those disbursements and of another client’s funds. His misconduct constituted grounds for the imposition of discipline pursuant to CRCP 251.5, and violated Colo. RPC 1.7 and 1.15(j).

No. 12PDJ071. People v. Underhill. 09/28/2012. Attorney Suspended.

The PDJ approved a conditional admission of conduct submitted by the parties and suspended James C. Underhill Jr., attorney registration number 15836, for one year and one day, with nine months to be served and three months and one day to be stayed pending successful completion of a two-year period of probation, with conditions. The sanction was effective November 5, 2012.

Underhill mismanaged his trust and operating accounts, resulting both in the commingling of funds and in Underhill’s use of client funds for personal or business purposes before earning those funds. In addition, Underhill failed to diligently represent one of his clients and to adequately communicate with that client. His misconduct constituted grounds for the imposition of discipline pursuant to CRCP 251.5, and violated Colo. RPC 1.3; 1.4(a)(3); 1.5(f); 1.15(a) and (c); 1.16(d); 5.1; and 8.4(c).

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