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Discipline Corner

SUSPENSION
On August 3, 2001, the Honorable Bruce J. Lubeck, Third Judicial District Court, entered an Order of Suspension suspending J. Douglas Kinateder from the practice of law for a period of twenty months, beginning October 15, 2001, for violation of Rules 1.3 (Diligence), 1.15(a) and (b) (Safekeeping Property), 5.5 (Unauthorized Practice of Law), and 8.4(a) (Misconduct) of the Rules of Professional Conduct.

Kinateder was grossly negligent in the management of his trust account. Kinateder did not promptly notify, deliver, and account for the client's and third party's funds. Thereafter, Kinateder paid funds owing to the clients and third party medical provider from his own funds. Kinateder was grossly negligent in failing to keep client and third party funds separate from his personal funds. Kinateder failed to act with reasonable diligence and promptness in representing a client in a personal injury matter. Kinateder continued to practice law while administratively suspended for failure to comply with mandatory continuing legal education requirements.

Mitigating factors include: personal or emotional problems; good faith effort to rectify the consequences of the misconduct involved; full and free disclosure to the Office of Professional Conduct prior to the discovery of further misconduct, and cooperative attitude towards proceedings; good character; physical disability; mental disability; and remorse.

Aggravating factors include: pattern of misconduct and substantial experience in the practice of law.

DISBARMENT
On October 15, 2001, the Honorable Michael D. Lyon, Second Judicial District Court, entered Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law and Order of Disbarment disbarring Stanley L. Ballif from the practice of law for violation of Rules 1.15(a) and (b) (Safekeeping Property) and 8.4(c) (Misconduct) of the Rules of Professional Conduct.

While employed at a law firm, in one case Ballif placed a client's settlement check into his personal account instead of the firm's trust account. Ballif temporarily used the client's money for his own personal use without authorization.

In another case Ballif failed to promptly notify the firm of a settlement in a client matter, failed to render a prompt accounting to the firm, and failed to immediately deliver to the firm its share of the settlement proceeds.

Aggravating factors include: prior record of discipline; dishonest or selfish motive; multiple offenses; substantial experience in the practice of law; and illegal conduct.

Mitigating factors include: full disclosure to the disciplinary authority prior to the discovery of any misconduct; cooperative attitude toward proceeding; and good character or reputation.

ADMONITION
On October 15, 2001, an attorney was admonished by the Chair of the Ethics and Discipline Committee of the Utah Supreme Court for violation of Rules 1.3 (Diligence) and 8.4(a) (Misconduct) of the Rules of Professional Conduct.

The attorney agreed to represent a client for the purpose of appealing the client's criminal conviction. The attorney failed to file a Notice of Appeal of the client's conviction before the time for appeal expired.

Mitigating factors include: absence of prior record of discipline and cooperation with the Office of Professional Conduct.

ADMONITION
On October 15, 2001, an attorney was admonished by the Chair of the Ethics and Discipline Committee of the Utah Supreme Court for violation of Rules 1.15(a) (Safekeeping Property) and 8.4(a) (Misconduct) of the Rules of Professional Conduct.

The Office of Professional Conduct received several overdraft notices regarding a law firm's trust account. At all relevant times the attorney was a signatory on the law firm's trust account, and was responsible for the trust account. In one instance, the attorney deposited funds into the trust account to cover an overdraft, but the funds were not credited to the trust account until the following day. The attorney failed to verify that the deposit had been credited to the trust account before issuing two checks against the deposited funds. The bank honored the two checks leaving the trust account overdrawn. In another instance, the attorney wrote three checks against the law firm's trust account believing the checks to be operating account checks. There were insufficient funds in the trust account to cover the three checks. The bank honored the three checks leaving the trust account overdrawn.

PUBLIC REPRIMAND
On October 26, 2001, the Honorable Frank G. Noel, Third Judicial District Court, entered an Order of Discipline: Reprimand reprimanding William B. Parsons, III for violation of Rules 1.3 (Diligence), 1.4(a) (Communication), and 8.4(a) and (d) (Misconduct) of the Rules of Professional Conduct.

Parsons was retained to represent a client in a lawsuit. Parsons failed to respond to discovery requests on the client's behalf and failed to appear for a scheduling conference, resulting in dismissal of the case. Parsons failed to keep the client reasonably informed about the status of the lawsuit.

ADMONITION
On October 29, 2001, an attorney was admonished by the Chair of the Ethics and Discipline Committee of the Utah Supreme Court for violation of Rules 1.3 (Diligence) and 8.4(a) (Misconduct) of the Rules of Professional Conduct.

The attorney filed a Notice of Appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit on a client's behalf. The Court sent the attorney notice of receipt of the Notice of Appeal and informed the attorney that the attorney needed to become a member of the Court's bar to proceed with the appeal. The attorney did not respond to the Court's notice, did not apply to become a member of the Court's bar, and did not file a request to withdraw from the appeal.

ADMONITION
On November 16, 2001, an attorney was admonished by the Chair of the Ethics and Discipline Committee of the Utah Supreme Court for violation of Rules 1.6 (Confidentiality of Information) and 8.4(a) (Misconduct) of the Rules of Professional Conduct.

The attorney was retained to represent a client in a family law matter. The attorney advertised for applicants to apply for a secretarial position in the attorney's law office. Several applicants applied and were interviewed for the position by the attorney. As part of the interview process, the applicants were given a typing test. The applicants were given access to the client's file and were given a tape of a dictated letter concerning the file to type. One of the applicants was a friend of the client and reported to the client that the applicant had been given access to the client's file and had typed a dictated letter from the file. The client's file and the dictated letter contained information relating to the attorney's representation of the client. The attorney admitted that the client's file and dictated letter had been used for the applicant testing, expressed remorse for doing so, and apologized to the client.

ADMONITION
On November 16, 2001, an attorney was admonished by the Chair of the Ethics and Discipline Committee of the Utah Supreme Court for violation of Rule 8.4(d) (Misconduct) of the Rules of Professional Conduct.

The attorney represented a client in a divorce action. The attorney was aware that in the divorce action, the parties were prohibited and restrained from dating during the pendency of the divorce including romantic relations with any individual. Prior to and during his representation of the client in the divorce action, the attorney engaged in a romantic relationship with the client.

Mitigating factors include: cooperation with the Office of Professional Conduct.

SUSPENSION
On November 19, 2001, the Honorable Stephen L. Henriod, Third Judicial District Court, entered an Order of Suspension Suspending the Respondent From the Practice of Law for Violating the Court's Pervious Order of Suspension suspending Steven D. Brantley from the practice of law.

On May 10, 2000, the court entered an Order of Suspension suspending Brantley from the practice of law for a period of one year. All but three months of the suspension were stayed. Brantley was ordered to comply with Rule 25, Rules of Lawyer Discipline and Disability ("RLDD"), including filing a petition for reinstatement prior to the end of his one-year suspension. Brantley also was ordered to produce any trust account records upon ten days written notice by the Office of Professional Conduct ("OPC").

Brantley violated the Order of Suspension and Rule 25, RLDD by failing to file a petition for reinstatement prior to the end of his one-year suspension. Brantley further violated the Order of Suspension by failing to provide his trust account records to the OPC. The court issued an Order to Show Cause ordering Brantley to produce to the OPC and the court three days prior to an Order to Show Cause hearing his trust account records and an accounting of all client funds held by him in his trust account, business operating account, and any personal accounts through a specified period of time. Brantley violated the court's Order to Show Cause by failing to produce the trust account records as ordered.

Brantley is suspended from the practice of law pending a final disposition on his petition for reinstatement which he has now filed pursuant to Rule 25, RLDD.

SUSPENSION
On November 26, 2001, the Honorable William B. Bohling, Third Judicial District Court, entered Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law, and Order Lifting Stay and Ordering Six Months Suspension suspending John Alex from the practice of law for six months.

On February 27, 2001, the court entered an Order of Suspension suspending Alex for six months but stayed the entire suspension. Among other things, the court's Order of Suspension ordered Alex to meet monthly with a court-appointed supervising attorney, respond to any informal complaints filed against him with the Office of Professional Conduct ("OPC") within ten days, submit to binding fee arbitration if requested by clients, and timely pay his Utah State Bar membership fees.

The court conducted several hearings to review Alex's compliance with its order and ultimately lifted the stay of suspension. Alex was suspended from the practice of law for six months, beginning October 19, 2001. He was given through November 19, 2001 to wind up his practice.

Alex violated the court's Order of Suspension by failing to meet with and respond to his court appointed supervising attorney, by failing to timely respond to informal complaints filed against him with the OPC, by failing to timely respond to a client's request for binding fee arbitration, and by failing to timely pay his Utah State Bar membership fees.

ADMONITION
On December 5, 2001, an attorney was admonished by the Chair of the Ethics and Discipline Committee of the Utah Supreme Court for violation of Rules 4.1(a) (Truthfulness in Statements to Others) and 8.4(a) and (c) (Misconduct) of the Rules of Professional Conduct.

The attorney filed a Petition to Modify Child Support Order ("Petition") and Supporting Affidavit in an attempt to have the attorney's court-ordered child support payments decreased. At the time the Petition was filed, the attorney was in negotiations with a law firm concerning possible employment. After filing the Petition, the attorney made misrepresentations of material fact in a letter to opposing counsel concerning the attorney's pending employment with the law firm and the salary the attorney expected to earn there. The attorney's misrepresentations were made negligently.

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on January 7, 2002 6:17 AM.

The previous post in this blog was Aspirational Morality: The Ideals of Professionalism.

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