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Discipline Corner

Discipline Corner

PUBLIC REPRIMAND
On June 10, 2005, the Chair of the Ethics and Discipline Committee of the Utah Supreme Court entered an Order of Discipline: Public Reprimand against Richard L. Musick for violation of Rules 1.3 (Diligence), 1.4(a) (Communication), 1.16(d) (Declining or Terminating Representation), and 8.4(a) and (d) (Misconduct) of the Rules of Professional Conduct.

In summary:
Mr. Musick was retained to represent a client in a real estate contract dispute. The Court directed Mr. Musick to prepare the findings and judgment as well as the necessary paperwork needed to show closure to the Court of Appeals. Mr. Musick failed to file a final order which would have allowed his client to enforce the Court's order or get the appeal dismissed in the case. Mr. Musick also failed to communicate the basis of his fee in writing and failed to promptly withdraw from the case when the client requested that he do so.

PUBLIC REPRIMAND
On June 8, 2005, the Chair of the Ethics and Discipline Committee of the Utah Supreme Court entered an Order of Discipline: Public Reprimand against Robert J. Barron for violation of Rules 1.1 (Competence), 1.3 (Diligence), 1.4(a) and (b) (Communication), 1.14(a) (Client Under a Disability), and 8.4(a) (Misconduct) of the Rules of Professional Conduct.

In summary:
Mr. Barron was hired to assist a sibling of a U.S. citizen apply for an immigration visa. At the time, there was about a twelve year waiting period for the immigrant visa and a petition needed to be filed to place the visa applicant on the waiting list. Mr. Barron incorrectly instructed the client regarding the proper forms to be filed and the filing process. Mr. Barron informed the client he was checking to obtain the correct filing information but he failed to promptly comply with the client's written requests for status updates or provide further information. Mr. Barron did not communicate by telephone with the client due to a language barrier with the client and Mr. Barron's bilingual secretary did not return the client's calls. Mr. Barron's inability to communicate with the client due to the language barrier interfered with the representation. Mr. Barron also failed to diligently pursue the filing information needed to enable Mr. Barron to file the petition and start the visa application process.

PUBLIC REPRIMAND
On June 8, 2005, the Chair of the Ethics and Discipline Committee of the Utah Supreme Court entered an Order of Discipline: Public Reprimand against Robert J. Barron for violation of Rules 1.1 (Competence), 1.4(a) and (b) (Communication), 1.5(a) (Fees), 1.14(a) (Client Under a Disability), 1.16(d) (Declining or Terminating Representation), and 8.4(a) (Misconduct) of the Rules of Professional Conduct.

In summary:
Mr. Barron was hired for an immigration matter. Due to a language barrier he was unable to adequately explain matters to the client. Mr. Barron provided the client with incorrect advice and he failed to review the necessary supporting documentation before filing the immigration forms. Mr. Barron failed to keep the client adequately informed about the case status and he failed to explain how the lack of substantiating evidence could affect the case. The client terminated the representation. Mr. Barron partially refunded the retainer but he charged and collected a fee for work that was not performed or performed incorrectly. Mr. Barron failed to refund the advanced payment for fees that were not earned.

ADMONITION
June 10, 2005, the Chair of the Ethics and Discipline Committee of the Utah Supreme Court entered an Order of Discipline: Admonition against an attorney for violation of Rules 1.15(a) (Safekeeping Property) and 8.4(a) (Misconduct) of the Rules of Professional Conduct.

In summary:
An attorney failed to promptly remove fees that the attorney earned from the attorney's trust account thereby commingling the earned fees with funds belonging to clients in the attorney's trust account. The attorney also incurred an ATM transaction fee for withdrawing funds which caused an overdraft of the attorney's trust account.

RECIPROCAL DISCIPLINE
On May 26, 2005, the Honorable Joseph Fratto, Third Judicial District Court, entered an Order of Discipline: Disbarment disbarring Alan Barber from the practice of law in Utah.

In summary:
On February 13, 2004, the Supreme Court of Idaho entered an order disbarring Mr. Barber from the practice of law in Idaho. Mr. Barber's misconduct in Idaho included knowingly converting clients' property, abandoning his practice or knowingly failing to perform services for clients or engaging in a pattern of neglect with respect to clients' matters, knowingly deceiving clients with the intent to benefit himself, knowingly violating duties owed to the profession with an intent to obtain a benefit for himself, causing serious or potentially serious injury to clients, the public and the legal system.

RECIPROCAL DISCIPLINE
On May 19, 2005, the Honorable Pamela G. Heffernan, Second Judicial District Court, entered an Order of Discipline: Public Reprimand, publicly reprimanding Kent Snider.

In summary:
On September 1, 2004, the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit entered an order publicly reprimanding Mr. Snider. Mr. Snider's misconduct included failing to respond to the court's orders and directives and failing to follow the court's rules.

ADMONITION
On May 31, 2005, the Chair of the Ethics and Discipline Committee of the Utah Supreme Court entered an Order of Discipline: Admonition against an attorney for violation of Rules 1.4(a) (Communication), 1.15(b) (Safekeeping Property), and 8.4(a) (Misconduct) of the Rules of Professional Conduct.

In summary:
An attorney was hired to pursue a malpractice claim for a client. Since the client had filed for bankruptcy, any recovery could first be claimed by the trustee in the bankruptcy case. A small settlement was offered by the defendants to the trustee that would not give the attorney's client any recovery. The trustee filed a motion to approve the settlement and a hearing was held. The attorney did not communicate with the client concerning the settlement, failed to respond to the client's telephone calls and letters, and did not inform the client about the hearing. When the court approved the settlement, the attorney did not send a copy of the court's disposition to the client. After the case ended, the client requested a refund of the unearned retainer. It took six months for the attorney to mail the refund to the client.

ADMONITION
On May 31, 2005, the Chair of the Ethics and Discipline Committee of the Utah Supreme Court entered an Order of Discipline: Admonition against an attorney for violations of Rules 1.1 (Competence), 1.3 (Diligence), 1.4(a) (Communication), 1.16(d) (Declining or Terminating Representation), and 8.4(a) (Misconduct) of the Rules of Professional Conduct.

In summary:
An attorney was hired to recover monies owed to the client. The attorney did not demonstrate the requisite skill and preparation that was necessary to adequately represent the client. The attorney did not diligently pursue the case. For almost a five month period, the attorney failed to timely communicate and respond to the client. The attorney also failed to notify the client of the attorney's need to withdraw from the representation.

PUBLIC REPRIMAND
On May 24, 2005, the Chair of the Ethics and Discipline Committee of the Utah Supreme Court entered an Order of Discipline: Public Reprimand against Thuan V. Tran for violations of Rules 1.1 (Competence), 1.3 (Diligence), and 8.4(a) (Misconduct) of the Rules of Professional Conduct.

In summary:
Mr. Tran was hired to represent a client's spouse to prevent the deportation of the spouse. Immigration had already issued an order of deportation for removal of the spouse. Mr. Tran received a call from immigration concerning the readiness of the spouse's work permit for collection. Mr. Tran informed the client's spouse that the spouse could pick up the work permit at the immigration office without counsel, even though the spouse was still subject to the deportation order. The client's spouse attended the immigration office and was detained and subsequently deported.

PUBLIC REPRIMAND
On May 24, 2005, the Chair of the Ethics and Discipline Committee of the Utah Supreme Court entered an Order of Discipline: Public Reprimand against Clayne Corey for violations of Rules 8.4(b) (Misconduct) and 8.4(a) (Misconduct) of the Rules of Professional Conduct.

In summary:
Mr. Corey pled guilty to driving under the influence of alcohol and entered an Alford plea. Mr. Corey committed criminal acts that reflect adversely on his fitness as a lawyer.

ADMONITION
On July 8, 2005, the Chair of the Ethics and Discipline Committee of the Utah Supreme Court entered an Order of Discipline: Admonition against an attorney for violations of Rules 1.7(a) (Conflict of Interest), 1.16(a)(1) (Declining or Terminating Representation), and 8.4(a) (Misconduct) of the Rules of Professional Conduct.

In summary:
An attorney was appointed to represent a party in a divorce action. In a separate divorce action, the attorney was appointed to represent a party that had adverse interests to the first party the attorney was appointed to represent. The attorney failed to withdraw.

PUBLIC REPRIMAND
On July 8, 2005, the Chair of the Ethics and Discipline Committee of the Utah Supreme Court entered an Order of Discipline: Public Reprimand against Nathan N. Jardine for violations of Rules 1.5 (Fees), and 8.4(a) (Misconduct) of the Rules of Professional Conduct.

In summary:
Mr. Jardine was paid to represent a client. The fee agreement stated the retainer would not be refunded for any reason and provided no terms for disgorgement. The client terminated the representation and requested a refund. Mr. Jardine collected an excessive fee by refusing to offer any kind of refund although he admitted that there was only 2 to 3 hours of work done on the case.

ADMONITION
On July 8, 2005, the Chair of the Ethics and Discipline Committee of the Utah Supreme Court entered an Order of Discipline: Admonition against an attorney for violations of Rules 1.15(a) (Safekeeping Property), 5.3(a) and (b) (Responsibilities Regarding Nonlawyer Assistants), and 8.4(a) (Misconduct) of the Rules of Professional Conduct.

In summary:
The Office of Professional Conduct ('OPC') received an overdraft notice on an attorney's client trust account. The overdraft was created by a check written to a client as a refund. Before the check was presented for payment, the attorney mistakenly withdrew more money from the trust account as earned than the client had in the trust account based on the attorney's accounts person's advice. The attorney also failed to ensure that the attorney's staff kept adequate accounting records and implemented accounting procedures to ensure that the practices of the staff were consistent with the attorney's obligations.

ADMONITION
On June 20, 2005, the Chair of the Ethics and Discipline Committee of the Utah Supreme Court entered an Order of Discipline: Admonition against an attorney for violations of Rules 1.1 (Competence), 1.3 (Diligence), 1.5(a) (Fees), and 8.4(a) (Misconduct) of the Rules of Professional Conduct.

In summary:
An attorney was hired to represent a client in bankruptcy proceedings. The attorney missed a hearing but another attorney stood in for the hearing and did not have the necessary paperwork. At the hearing, the Utah State Tax Commission indicated that they had not received the copies of the client's tax returns. The client had already given the attorney's office the returns and when the client inquired about the tax returns the attorney's office could not find the returns. The client received notice that the case was going to be dismissed because of the failure to provide the tax returns. The attorney advised that the returns just needed to be filed and would do so. The case was dismissed because of the attorney's failure to file the returns. After the dismissal, the attorney told the client that the case could be reopened. The attorney eventually filed a new bankruptcy after the client's car was repossessed. The client subsequently hired another attorney to get the car back. The attorney also filed a financial statement in the new bankruptcy that the client did not review or sign.

PUBLIC REPRIMAND
On July 8, 2005, the Chair of the Ethics and Discipline Committee of the Utah Supreme Court entered an Order of Discipline: Public Reprimand against Earl B. Taylor for violations of Rules 1.1 (Competence), 1.3 (Diligence), and 8.4(a) (Misconduct) of the Rules of Professional Conduct.

In summary:
Mr. Taylor was hired to represent a client in a bankruptcy. The case was dismissed because of Mr. Taylor's failure to respond to the trustee's motion.

ADMONITION
On June 21, 2005, the Chair of the Ethics and Discipline Committee of the Utah Supreme Court entered an Order of Discipline: Admonition against an attorney for violations of Rules 1.4(a) (Communication), 1.16(d) (Declining or Terminating Representation), and 8.4(a) (Misconduct) of the Rules of Professional Conduct.

In summary:
The attorney was hired to represent a client in immigration matters. The attorney failed to inform the client that a petition was rejected by immigration, failed to explain the situation or options to the client, failed to respond to status requests, and failed to provide copies of filings or a copy of the file to the client.

ADMONITION
On June 22, 2005, the Chair of the Ethics and Discipline Committee of the Utah Supreme Court entered an Order of Discipline: Admonition against an attorney for violations of Rules 8.4(a) and (c) (Misconduct) of the Rules of Professional Conduct.

In summary:
An attorney was convicted of a Class A misdemeanor for attempting to deliver Oxycontin tablets to the attorney's spouse, an inmate at the Adult Detention Center.

PUBLIC REPRIMAND
On June 21, 2005, the Chair of the Ethics and Discipline Committee of the Utah Supreme Court entered an Order of Discipline: Public Reprimand against Joseph Goodman for violations of Rule 1.1 (Competence), 1.3 (Diligence), 1.4(a) (Communication), 1.4(b) (Communication), 8.1(b) (Bar Admission and Disciplinary Matters), and 8.4(a) (Misconduct) of the Rules of Professional Conduct.

In summary:
Mr. Goodman was hired to represent a client in divorce proceedings. Mr. Goodman failed to file all of the necessary documents to request a default judgment on behalf of his client. Mr. Goodman was not diligent in pursuing his client's case and permitted the case to be dismissed. Mr. Goodman failed to communicate with his client. Mr. Goodman failed to provide requested documents to his client. Mr. Goodman failed to inform his client of an Order to Show Cause hearing and failed to explain the court's ruling from that hearing. Mr. Goodman failed to respond to the Office of Professional Conduct's requests for information.

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on October 16, 2005 9:08 PM.

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