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Discipline Corner

Discipline Corner

ADMONITION

On January 18, 2007, 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 1.5(b) (Fees), 1.15(c) (Safekeeping Property), and 8.4(a) (Misconduct) of the Rules of Professional Conduct.

In summary:
In a divorce proceeding, the attorney failed to communicate the basis and rate of the attorney’s fee within a reasonable time and failed to account for the retainer in the attorney’s trust account after a dispute arose regarding attorney’s fees.

PROBATION
On January 16, 2007, the Chair of the Ethics and Discipline Committee of the Utah Supreme Court entered an Order of Discipline: Non-Public Probation against an attorney for violation of Rules 1.1 (Competence), 1.3 (Diligence), 3.2 (Expediting Litigation), 3.4(c) (Fairness to Opposing Party and Counsel), 8.4(d) (Misconduct), and 8.4(a) (Misconduct) of the Rules of Professional Conduct.

In summary:
In two cases, the attorney failed to competently and diligently represent the client by failing to respond to numerous motions, failing to follow court’s orders, and expending the court’s time and resources in addressing the delays caused by the attorney.

ADMONITION
On January 2, 2007, 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 5.5(a) (Unauthorized Practice of Law), 8.4(d) (Misconduct), and 8.4(a) (Misconduct) of the Rules of Professional Conduct.

In summary:
The attorney agreed to take a case in another state in which the attorney was not licensed to practice. The attorney needed to associate with counsel to enable the attorney to appear on behalf of the client but failed to obtain local counsel. The attorney handled the case for over six months which included appearing in court. The attorney improperly attempted to condition settlement with the client on the client’s withdrawal of the Bar complaint.

ADMONITION
On January 2, 2007, 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 Rule 1.4(b) (Communication), 1.5(a) (Fees), 1.15(d) (Safekeeping Property), 1.16(d) (Declining or Terminating Representation), 8.1(b) (Bar Admission and Disciplinary Matters), and 8.4(a) (Misconduct) of the Rules of Professional Conduct.

In summary:
At the initial meeting, the attorney collected a retainer, and thereafter performed no meaningful work. The attorney failed to explain to the client the nonrefundable aspect of the retainer agreement. The attorney failed to communicate with the client. The attorney failed to provide the client with an accounting of the work done even though it was in dispute. The attorney failed to properly terminate the representation by failing to refund unearned fees. The attorney also failed to provide responsive information to the OPC that would have supported or clarified the record.

ADMONITION
On December 18, 2006, 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 1.2(a) (Scope of Representation), 1.3 (Diligence), 1.15(b) (Safekeeping Property), 1.16(d) (Declining or Terminating Representation), and 8.4(a) (Misconduct) of the Rules of Professional Conduct.

In summary:
In a divorce and custody action, the attorney failed to diligently pursue the divorce as directed by the client. Upon withdrawal, the attorney failed to refund unearned fees and failed to give advance notice to the client or make an effort to protect the client’s interests.

PUBLIC REPRIMAND
On December 4, 2006, the Chair of the Ethics and Discipline Committee of the Utah Supreme Court entered an Order of Discipline: Public Reprimand against David L. Cooley for violation of Rules 1.1 (Competence), 1.3 (Diligence), 1.16(d) (Declining or Terminating Representation), and 8.4(a) (Misconduct) of the Rules of Professional Conduct.

In summary:
Mr. Cooley represented a client in a medical malpractice action even though he admitted that he had no experience in that area of law. Mr. Cooley’s lack of competence affected the unsuccessful pursuit of the action and appeal. For the same client in a wrongful termination action, Mr. Cooley failed to respond to a motion to dismiss. Mr. Cooley failed to communicate to his client concerning the motion to dismiss and his decision to not respond to it. Mr. Cooley also took no action to withdraw from the case.

ADMONITION
On November 13, 2006, the Chair of the Ethics and Discipline Committee of the Utah Supreme Court entered an Order of Admonition against an attorney for violation of Rules 1.7(b) (Conflict of Interest: General Rule), 3.7(a) (Lawyer as a Witness), 4.2(a) (Communication with Persons Represented by Counsel), 8.4(d) (Misconduct), and 8.4(a) (Misconduct) of the Rules of Professional Conduct.

In summary:
In one matter, the attorney contacted a represented person without seeking permission from the person’s counsel.

In another matter, the attorney filed suit on behalf of one company, against a company in which the attorney held a financial interest as a shareholder. In a related case, the shareholders of the company, represented by the attorney, filed suit against several individual company employees. The cases were consolidated and the court ordered the attorney to withdraw as counsel from both companies. The attorney now appears pro se, solely as a shareholder.

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on April 27, 2007 4:59 AM.

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