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Attorney Discipline

RESIGNATION WITH DISCIPLINE PENDING

On April 14, 2010, the Honorable Christine M. Durham, Chief Justice, Utah Supreme Court, entered an Order Accepting Resignation with Discipline Pending concerning R. Bradley Neff for violation of Rules 8.4(b) (Misconduct), 8.4(c) (Misconduct), and 8.4(a) (Misconduct) of the Rules of Professional Conduct.


In summary:

On September 23, 2008, Mr. Neff entered into a plea in abeyance to three Class A Misdemeanor counts of Attempted Failure to Render a Proper Tax Return. Mr. Neff was required to complete 40 hours of community service and pay restitution of $13,936.37 in addition to the $197,139.57 previously paid.

SUSPENSION

On March 11, 2010, the Honorable Denise Lindberg, Third District Court entered an Order of Discipline: Suspension for one year and Probation for one year against David VanCampen for violation of Rules 1.3 (Diligence), 1.4(a) (Communication), 1.4(b) (Communication), 1.5(a) (Fees), 1.5(b) (Fees), 8.1(b) (Bar Admission and Disciplinary Matters), and 8.4(a) (Misconduct) of the Rules of Professional Conduct.

In summary there are two matters:

In the first matter, Mr. VanCampen was retained to file modification papers in a divorce and custody case. Mr. VanCampen was paid and provided with the client’s information. Almost a month later, the client initiated contact with Mr. VanCampen at which time he reported that he lost the information that his client had provided and requested it be provided again. The client provided the information to Mr. VanCampen a second time. Mr. VanCampen failed to file any papers with the court on the case. The client attempted to contact Mr. VanCampen on numerous occasions. Mr. VanCampen failed to return all but three of her calls. During the three calls, Mr. VanCampen provided no real assistance and made promises to perform services that were never performed. Mr. VanCampen failed to return his client’s file, provide an accounting, or return unearned fees to his client. Mr. VanCampen failed to provide meaningful legal services necessary to prosecute his client’s case. Mr. VanCampen was served a Notice of Informal Complaint (“NOIC”), but failed to timely respond.

In the second matter, Mr. VanCampen was hired to file documents to seal the client’s case and attempt to negotiate an expungement. The client called Mr. VanCampen’s office several times, but did not receive a call back. Mr. VanCampen’s assistant told the client that there was a hearing scheduled. When the client appeared for the hearing, Mr. VanCampen did not appear. Mr. VanCampen failed to contact the client to explain what was going on in the case despite numerous calls by the client to speak with him. Mr. VanCampen failed to return unearned fees to his client, failed to return his client’s file, and failed to provide the legal services for which he was hired. Mr. VanCampen was served a NOIC, but failed to timely respond.

Aggravating circumstances include: prior record of discipline; pattern of misconduct; multiple offenses; and substantial experience in the practice of law.


Mitigating circumstances include: personal or emotional problems.

ADMONITION

On May 10, 2010, 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 5.3(a) (Responsibilities Regarding Nonlawyer Assistants), 5.3(b) (Responsibilities Regarding Nonlawyer Assistants), and 8.4(a) (Misconduct) of the Rules of Professional Conduct.

In summary:

The attorney was informed by a friend that a couple wanted to petition the Court to obtain the excess proceeds from a foreclosure sale. The attorney was never retained by the couple. The attorney prepared a pleading and signed it as if he were representing the couple. The attorney delegated to the attorney’s non-lawyer assistant the responsibility of filing the pleading. The attorney used the non-lawyer’s address and phone number on the pleading. The attorney made no reasonable efforts to ensure the non-lawyer acted responsibly under the Rules of Professional Conduct. By failing to supervise the nonlawyer, the attorney exposed another party and the legal system to potential injury by causing a contested action where there was no dispute. The attorney had adequate time and opportunity to correct the misconduct, but did not.

ADMONITION

On May 10, 2010, 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 1.3 (Diligence), 1.4(a) (Communication), 1.15(c) (Safekeeping Property), 7.5(a) (Firm Names and Letterheads), 7.5(d) (Firm Names and Letterheads), and 8.4(a) (Misconduct) of the Rules of Professional Conduct.

In summary:

An attorney retained a law firm to assist in a case involving division of real estate transaction fees. The attorney handled the client’s matter due to the partner in the firm going on inactive status. The attorney failed to timely prepare, file and provide to the client, a complaint in the matter. The attorney failed to alert the client that the attorney would be unavailable or unable to complete the complaint in the specified time period. The attorney failed to notify to the client that the attorney had removed part of the retainer from the trust account as earned fees. The attorney had earned those fees; however, the attorney failed to timely account for the fees and provide invoicing to the client. The attorney’s letterhead and firm name that were utilized were somewhat misleading because the partner was not practicing in a partnership at that time.

ADMONITION

On May 10, 2010, 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 7.5(a) (Firm Names and Letterheads), 7.5(d) (Firm Names and Letterheads), and 8.4(a) (Misconduct) of the Rules of Professional Conduct.

In summary:

A client spoke to a partner in a firm about retaining the partner to assist in a legal matter. The partner was going on inactive status and referred the case to the other partner within the firm. At the time of initial contact with the client, the attorney utilized a letterhead and firm name indicating two partners within the firm. The attorney used that letterhead a significant portion of the time during which time the attorney was in contact with the client. The attorney’s letterhead and firm name were somewhat misleading, due to the partner not being in a partnership.

SUSPENSION

The United States District Court for the District of Utah has entered an order suspending D. Scott Berrett from the practice of law in the federal court for a period of 90 days, commencing June 10, 2010. Mr. Berrett failed to communicate with a client in a criminal case and failed to respond to the request of the magistrate judge to meet regarding the criminal case.

CLARIFICATION

There are two Bruce Nelsons licensed with the Utah State Bar. In the last edition of the Bar Journal, the attorney discipline listed a Public Reprimand for Bruce L. Nelson, not to be confused with Bruce J. Nelson who has not been disciplined.

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