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Office of Professional Conduct Archives

April 12, 2005

DISBARMENT

DISBARMENT

On February 1, 2005, the Honorable G. Rand Beacham, Fifth Judicial District Court, entered Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law, Ruling and Order of Disbarment against Roy L. Bischoff disbarring Mr. Bischoff from the practice of law for violation of Rules 1.1 (Competence), 1.2(a) (Scope of Representation), 1.3 (Diligence), 1.4(a) (Communication), 1.5(a) (Fees), 1.5(b) (Fees), 1.15(b) (Safekeeping Property), 1.16(d) (Declining or Terminating Representation), 3.2 (Expediting Litigation), 8.1(b) (Bar Admission and Disciplinary Matters), and 8.4 (a), (c), and (d) (Misconduct) of the Rules of Professional Conduct.

In summary:
Mr. Bischoff was retained to represent a client in a bankruptcy matter. The client paid a fee to Mr. Bischoff. Mr. Bischoff did not file the necessary documents with the court and the case was dismissed. In the meantime, Mr. Bischoff had moved out of state and did not inform the client of his new address. The client located Mr. Bischoff and Mr. Bischoff promised to return the client’s retainer fee and file. Mr. Bischoff did not return the client’s property. In a second matter, Mr. Bischoff was retained to represent a client in an immigration matter. The client paid Mr. Bischoff a filing and retainer fee. Mr. Bischoff moved out of state. The client located Mr. Bischoff and requested proof of filing the immigration petition. In order to appease the client, Mr. Bischoff produced a fabricated letter to the client alleging it was from the former Immigration and Naturalization Service (“INS”) (now U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service). The client made inquiries with the INS and was told there was no record of the application. The client thereafter attempted to contact Mr. Bischoff without success. In a third matter, Mr. Bischoff was retained in debt collection matters. Despite attempts to contact Mr. Bischoff, Mr. Bischoff did not keep his clients reasonably informed of the progress of the cases. In a fourth matter, Mr. Bischoff was retained to represent a client in a lease agreement dispute. The client paid Mr. Bischoff a retainer fee and Mr. Bischoff had the client sign an agreement stating part of the fee was non-refundable. Mr. Bischoff prepared a bill and one letter for the client to review. Two months later, Mr. Bischoff moved out of state. The client attempted to contact Mr. Bischoff without success. Mr. Bischoff did not return the client’s unearned retainer or file. In a fifth matter, Mr. Bischoff represented a client to establish visitation rights. The client paid Mr. Bischoff a retainer fee. Mr. Bischoff told the client that he had filed a foreign judgment in court, but the clients never received a copy of any documents. The last communication from Mr. Bischoff was a bill, which the client paid. No visitation was ever established. The Office of Professional Conduct (“OPC”) sent Mr. Bischoff Notices of Informal Complaint in all five cases requesting that Mr. Bischoff respond in writing. Mr. Bischoff failed to respond to the OPC’s lawful demands for information.

Aggravating factors include: dishonest or selfish motive; pattern of misconduct; multiple offenses; obstruction of disciplinary proceedings; refusal to acknowledge the wrongful nature of the misconduct involved; vulnerability of victim; lack of timely effort to make restitution in good faith; and illegal conduct.

INTERIM SUSPENSION

INTERIM SUSPENSION

On March 4, 2005, the Honorable Leslie A. Lewis, Third Judicial District Court, entered an Order of Interim Suspension suspending Jay W. Taylor from the practice of law pending final disposition of Mr. Taylor’s resignation with discipline pending filed with the Utah Supreme Court.

INTERIM SUSPENSION

INTERIM SUSPENSION

On February 17, 2005, the Honorable Fred D. Howard, Fourth Judicial District Court, entered Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law, and Order of Interim Suspension, suspending Trevor L. Zabriskie from the practice of law pending final disposition of the Complaint filed against him.

In summary:
Mr. Zabriskie was convicted of endangerment of a child, a third degree felony, in violation of Utah Code Annotated § 76-5-112.5 and sexual battery, a class A misdemeanor, in violation of Utah Code Annotated § 76-9-702(3), which were later reduced to a class A misdemeanor and class B misdemeanor respectively. The interim suspension is based upon this conviction.

PUBLIC REPRIMAND

PUBLIC REPRIMAND

On February 24, 2005, the Chair of the Ethics and Discipline Committee of the Utah Supreme Court entered an Order of Discipline: Public Reprimand against Bret Hicken for violation of Rules 1.3 (Diligence), 1.4(a) and (b) (Communication), 1.16(a) (Declining or Terminating Representation), 5.3(a), (b), and (c) (Responsibilities Regarding Nonlawyer Assistants), and 8.4(a) (Misconduct) of the Rules of Professional Conduct.

In summary:
Mr. Hicken was retained to pursue a collection action for an out of state client. Mr. Hicken sent demand letters to the debtors and the complaints were signed approximately five months later. The client flew to Utah to attend court hearings, but Mr. Hicken told the client that the court dates had been postponed. The client contacted Mr. Hicken on numerous occasions, but Mr. Hicken did not return the telephone calls. The client continued to send monthly billings to the debtors, and as a result of these billings later found out that the complaints had not been served upon the debtors. When the client eventually contacted Mr. Hicken, Mr. Hicken reassured the client that the work had been completed. Mr. Hicken later indicated to the client that a favorable judgment had been obtained against the debtors and requested copies of costs of the client’s trip to Utah. The client contacted Mr. Hicken to ascertain when the client would receive the money. Mr. Hicken required to withdraw from representation because of health reasons. The client contacted Mr. Hicken’s paralegal, who gave the client court dates and status updates which were false and misleading. The client subsequently retained another attorney who told the client that there was no record of any filings or of any work done. Mr. Hicken reimbursed the client’s retainer.

PUBLIC REPRIMAND

PUBLIC REPRIMAND

On May 24, 2004, the Chair of the Ethics and Discipline Committee of the Utah Supreme Court entered an Order of Discipline: Public Reprimand against David O. Drake for violation of Rules 5.3(a) and (b) (Responsibilities Regarding Nonlawyer Assistants) and 8.4(a) (Misconduct) of the Rules of Professional Conduct.

In summary:
Mr. Drake was retained to represent his employee in a lawsuit. Mr. Drake permitted his non-attorney employee to take a sworn statement of the defendant the employee was suing. In a second matter, Mr. Drake was retained to represent a client in a personal injury matter. Mr. Drake permitted his non-attorney employee to enter into and sign a contingent fee retainer agreement and prepare and submit a settlement demand letter to an insurance company on behalf of the client, which resulted in a substantial recovery for the client. In a third matter, Mr. Drake was retained to represent a client who was involved in an automobile accident. Mr. Drake permitted his non-attorney employee to sign a lien to a medical provider, which required an attorney’s signature. When the client’s case settled, Mr. Drake’s non-attorney employee deposited the settlement funds into an attorney trust account, which the employee had inappropriately opened without Mr. Drake’s knowledge. The settlement was safely disbursed to the client. In the course of representing these three clients, Mr. Drake failed to properly supervise his employee, and failed to ensure that his employee’s conduct was compatible with Mr. Drake’s professional obligations as a lawyer.

ADMONITION

ADMONITION

On March 6, 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) and (b) (Communication), 1.16(d) (Declining or Terminating Representation), and 8.4(a) (Misconduct) of the Rules of Professional Conduct.

In summary:
An attorney was retained to represent a husband and wife in a termination of parental rights and step-parent adoption matter. The attorney did not timely inform the clients about hearing dates or adequately communicate with the clients to explain the process to them. The attorney also failed to protect the clients’ interests by not clearly communicating withdrawal from the representation, nor advising the clients of the consequences of withdrawal, nor cooperating with successor counsel to protect the clients.

ADMONITION

ADMONITION

On March 6, 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 8.1(b) (Bar Admission and Disciplinary Matters) and 8.4(a) (Misconduct) of the Rules of Professional Conduct.

In summary:
The Office of Professional Conduct (“OPC”) received an informal complaint against an attorney. The OPC sent a Notice of Informal Complaint to the attorney requesting a written response. The attorney failed to respond to the OPC’s lawful demand for information.

March 15, 2005

NOTICE APPOINTING TRUSTEE TO PROTECT THE INTERESTS OF THE CLIENTS OF THE LATE MELVIN E. LESLIE

NOTICE APPOINTING TRUSTEE TO PROTECT THE INTERESTS OF THE CLIENTS OF THE LATE MELVIN E. LESLIE

On February 4, 2005, the Honorable Joseph C. Fratto, Jr., Third Judicial District Court, entered an Order Appointing Trustee to Protect the Interests of the Clients of Melvin E. Leslie. Pursuant to Rule 27 of the Rules of Lawyer Discipline and Disability, Gary Atkin is appointed as trustee to take control of client files and other property that was in Mr. Leslie’s possession, and distribute them to the clients.

PUBLIC REPRIMAND

PUBLIC REPRIMAND

On January 31, 2005, the Chair of the Ethics and Discipline Committee of the Utah Supreme Court entered an Order of Discipline: Public Reprimand against S. Austin Johnson for violation of Rules 1.2 (Scope of Representation), 1.3 (Diligence), 1.4(a) (Communication), 1.5(a) (Fees), and 8.4(a) (Misconduct) of the Rules of Professional Conduct.

In summary:
Mr. Johnson was retained by a client in an immigration matter. The client instructed Mr. Johnson not to apply for a TN visa because the client wanted permanent residency. Mr. Johnson sent the client an engagement letter stating that he would pursue and conduct research on a TN visa. The client communicated the discrepancy, but Mr. Johnson did nothing to rectify the error. Mr. Johnson missed a deadline for filing an application for a H-1B visa. The draft documents for the H-1B visa were sent to the client for approval after the deadline. Mr. Johnson did not keep his client reasonably informed of the status of the matter and did not promptly comply with requests for information. Mr. Johnson charged the client for research on a TN visa when he was specifically instructed not to pursue that visa and he failed to complete the entire application.

Aggravating factors include: Mr. Johnson failed to appear at the Screening Panel hearing pursuant to Rule 32 of the Rules of Lawyer Discipline and Disability; Mr. Johnson refuses to acknowledge the wrongful nature of the misconduct involved; Mr. Johnson lacked a good faith effort to rectify the consequences of the misconduct, in particular conducting and billing for the TN visa research; failure to communicate with the client in a reasonable manner and instead, continued to make demands throughout this proceeding for work that was not requested; and Mr. Johnson failed to resolve/communicate, and instead made demands through this proceeding that the client owed him for the TN application, which was not requested and not done.

ADMONITION

ADMONITION

On January 24, 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 drew a check for the interest from the attorney’s IOLTA account to the Utah Bar Foundation. The attorney authorized the firm’s bookkeeper to write off the non-negotiated IOLTA check and write a new check against the trust account to transfer the interest to the firm’s operating account based on the misunderstanding that the money belonged to the firm. Later, the Utah Bar Foundation negotiated the check for IOLTA interest rendering the attorney’s trust account overdrawn. Upon receipt of the overdraft notice the firm transferred the funds from its operating account to the trust account to cover the overdraft.

ADMONITION

ADMONITION

On January 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 violation of Rules 1.3 (Diligence), 1.4(a) (Communication), 8.1(b) (Bar Admission and Disciplinary Matters), and 8.4(a) (Misconduct) of the Rules of Professional Conduct.

In summary:
An attorney was retained to represent two clients in a lawsuit but the attorney did little or nothing to pursue the clients’ case until about eight months after being retained. The attorney did not understand the outstanding obligations when retained and failed to respond to outstanding discovery requests served upon the clients’ former attorney. The attorney also failed to pursue a new stipulated discovery plan with opposing counsel and failed to file a notice of withdrawal when the attorney ceased representation. The attorney did not respond to the clients’ attempts to communicate with the attorney and did not communicate the attorney’s change of business location to the clients. The attorney did not respond to the Office of Professional Conduct’s requests for information.

Mitigating factor included: No prior record of discipline.

ADMONITION

ADMONITION

On January 19, 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 1.5(a) (Fees), 1.16(d) (Declining or Terminating Representation), 8.1(a) (Bar Admission and Disciplinary Matters), and 8.4(a) (Misconduct) of the Rules of Professional Conduct.

In summary:
An attorney was retained to represent a client in two cases. The client terminated the attorney’s services before the work was concluded and requested a refund of attorney’s fees. The attorney filed a motion to withdraw from both cases. The scope of the trial did not justify the extent of the preparation the attorney claimed. The attorney refused to refund any portion of the fees. The attorney testified to the Screening Panel of the Ethics and Discipline Committee of the Utah Supreme Court that the client only requested that the attorney withdraw from one case when the attorney had filed motions to withdraw from both pending cases on the same day.

ADMONITION

ADMONITION

On January 19, 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 1.3 (Diligence), 1.4(b) (Communication), 1.16(d) (Declining or Terminating Representation), 5.3 (Responsibilities Regarding Nonlawyer Assistants), and 8.4(a) (Misconduct) of the Rules of Professional Conduct.

In summary:
An attorney was retained to represent a client in a divorce matter. The client requested that the attorney communicate the status of the case through the client’s parent. The attorney did not follow up on requests and questions and failed to effectively communicate with the client’s parent. The attorney also failed to supervise the attorney’s secretary regarding client contact and failed to timely return the client’s file.

SUSPENSION

SUSPENSION

On November 29, 2004, the Honorable Derek Pullan, Fourth Judicial District Court, entered Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law, Ruling and Order of Suspension: Three Years suspending Daniel D. Heaton for a period of three years, effective October 20, 2004, for violation of Rules 1.1 (Competence), 1.3 (Diligence), 1.4(a) (Communication), 1.5(a) (Fees) 1.5(b) (Fees), 1.15(b) (Safekeeping Property), 1.16(d) (Declining or Terminating Representation), 8.1(b) (Bar Admission and Disciplinary Matters), 8.4 (a) and (c) (Misconduct) of the Rules of Professional Conduct.

In summary:
Mr. Heaton was retained to represented a client in a bankruptcy matter. The client and the creditors attempted to contact Mr. Heaton for three months without success. Mr. Heaton filed the client’s bankruptcy six months later, and then failed to attend the creditor’s meeting. In another matter, Mr. Heaton was retained to handle an expungement of records. Four months had passed when the client called Mr. Heaton to check on the progress of the case. Two months later Mr. Heaton informed the client he had misplaced the file but would refund the client’s fees and assured the client he would attend to the matter promptly. Mr. Heaton refunded half of the fee to the client and kept half of the fee for the remaining paperwork. The client attempted to contact Mr. Heaton thereafter without success. In a third matter, Mr. Heaton was retained to represent a client in a bankruptcy matter. The client paid Mr. Heaton’s attorney’s fees but when the client attempted to contact Mr. Heaton, he had vanished. Mr. Heaton failed to timely respond to the OPC’s requests for information in all three matters. In a fourth matter, Mr. Heaton engaged in the unauthorized practice of law by assisting a client in a lawsuit while placed on administrative suspension for failure to pay his Bar dues to the Utah State Bar.

Mitigating factors include: no prior disciplinary record; substantial personal or emotional problems; willingness to make full restitution; affected by an impairment or disability for which Mr. Heaton sought and completed treatment.

January 6, 2005

NOTICE OF PETITION FOR REINSTATEMENT

NOTICE OF PETITION FOR REINSTATEMENT

Pursuant to Rule 25(d), Rules of Lawyer Discipline and Disability, the Utah State Bar’s Office of Professional Conduct hereby publishes notice of a Petition for Reinstatement (“Petition”) filed by Robert Louis Booker in In re Robert Booker, Third Judicial District Court, Civil No. 020907926 on December 6, 2004. Any individuals wishing to oppose or concur with the Petition are requested to do so within thirty days of the date of this publication by filing notice with the District Court.

INTERIM SUSPENSION

INTERIM SUSPENSION

On December 13, 2004, the Honorable Joseph C. Fratto, Jr., Third Judicial District Court, entered an Order of Interim Suspension Pursuant to Rule 18 of the Rules of Lawyer Discipline and Disability immediately suspending Geoffrey L. Clark from the practice of law in Utah pending final disposition of the disciplinary complaints against him.

In summary:
On November 19, 2004, criminal charges were filed against Mr. Clark on two felony counts, i.e. distribution of or arranging to distribute a controlled substance and possession and possession or use of a controlled substance (Prior). Subsequent to this, on November 20, 2004, another felony charge of making false or inconsistent statements was filed against Mr. Clark.

On March 18, 2004, Mr. Clark had been previously convicted of the criminal misdemeanor charges of interfering with a legal arrest, driving with measurable controlled substance, possession of a controlled substance without container, and driving on revocation. And, on June 21, 2004, Mr. Clark pled guilty in justice court to charges of speeding and driving on a suspended license.

Mr. Clark does not in any way admit that he has committed the crimes which are the basis of the pending criminal charges against him. However, given the totality of the circumstances, Mr. Clark did not contest the Court’s entry of the Rule 18 order.

RECIPROCAL DISCIPLINE

RECIPROCAL DISCIPLINE

On November 4, 2004, the Honorable Sheila K. McCleve, Third Judicial District Court, entered an Order of Discipline: Disbarment disbarring Ben D. Hyde from the practice of law in Utah.

In summary:
On July 21, 1998, the Supreme Court of California entered an order disbarring Mr. Hyde from the practice of law in California. Mr. Hyde’s misconduct in California included willful failure to comply with orders issued by the Supreme Court directing him to wind down his practice and notify clients of a previous suspension.

DISBARMENT

DISBARMENT

On November 30, 2004, the Utah Supreme Court entered an Order of Disbarment, disbarring Ray Harding, Jr. from the practice of law in Utah.

In summary:
On or about July 13, 2002, after being called to Mr. Harding’s home on a domestic disturbance call, law enforcement officers found cocaine, heroin and drug paraphernalia. Mr. Harding tested positive for cocaine, opiates, and Valium. Mr. Harding was arrested and charged with two felony criminal counts of unlawful possession or use of a controlled substance. Subsequently, Mr. Harding pled guilty to two counts of attempted possession or use of a controlled substance, a class A misdemeanor. Mr. Harding was a Fourth Judicial District Court judge for the State of Utah at the time of the criminal charges.

Aggravating factors included: After being charged, Mr. Harding continued to publicly maintain his innocence and malign his accusers for over a year. These protestations were widely reported in the media and disseminated to the general public. Mr. Harding did so with full knowledge of his culpability, as evidenced by his subsequent admission of guilt. Furthermore, despite being unable to hear cases due to the pending criminal charges, Mr. Harding continued to draw his full salary and otherwise enjoyed the emoluments of judicial office. Not only did such behavior bring disrepute upon the legal profession and undermine public confidence in the judiciary, it placed an undue burden upon his colleagues on the Fourth Judicial District Court and adversely affected those citizens served by that court. Compounding these abuses, Mr. Harding delayed his decision to resign until the last possible moment, and only did so under intense media coverage of the looming dual threat of impeachment by the Legislature and removal by the Utah Supreme Court.

November 17, 2004

ADMONITION

ADMONITION

On November 8, 2004, the Chair of the Ethics and Discipline Committee of the Utah Supreme Court entered an Order of Discipline: Admonition admonishing an attorney for violation of Rules 1.3 (Diligence), 1.4(a) (Communication), 5.5(a) (Unauthorized Practice of Law), 8.4(d) (Misconduct), and 8.4(a) (Misconduct) of the Rules of Professional Conduct.

In summary:
An attorney was retained to represent a client’s grandchild in a criminal matter. The attorney did not appear for one of the court hearings in the case. The attorney did not return telephone calls requesting information about the case. In another matter, the attorney received a certified letter from the Board of Continuing Legal Education stating that the attorney had not demonstrated compliance with the Mandatory Continuing Legal Education requirements. The letter informed the attorney that if the attorney did not demonstrate compliance within thirty days a petition for suspension from the practice of law would be forwarded to the Utah Supreme Court. The attorney did not comply and was administratively suspended. Thereafter, the attorney appeared in court on behalf of three different clients.

Mitigating factors include: Absence of prior record of discipline and cooperative attitude toward the disciplinary proceedings. The attorney also agreed to participate in binding fee arbitration through the Utah State Bar’s Fee Arbitration Program.

PUBLIC REPRIMAND

PUBLIC REPRIMAND

On October 22, 2004, the Chair of the Ethics and Discipline Committee of the Utah Supreme Court entered an Order of Discipline: Public Reprimand reprimanding John Bucher for violation of Rules 1.3 (Diligence), 1.4(a) (Communication), 1.5(b) (Fees), 1.16(a)(3) (Declining or Terminating Representation), and Rule 8.4(a) (Misconduct) of the Rules of Professional Conduct.

In summary:
Mr. Bucher represented a client in a criminal matter. The client paid Mr. Bucher $10,000. Mr. Bucher failed to communicate the basis of his fee in writing within a reasonable time after commencing representation. Mr. Bucher did not properly handle the case and did not keep the client informed of the status of the case. Mr. Bucher did not explain the matter to the extent reasonably necessary to enable the client to make informed decisions regarding representation. The client terminated the representation by letter, but Mr. Bucher delayed in terminating his representation of the client. Mr. Bucher refunded $1500 to the client.

PUBLIC REPRIMAND

PUBLIC REPRIMAND

On October 22, 2004, the Chair of the Ethics and Discipline Committee of the Utah Supreme Court entered an Order of Discipline: Public Reprimand reprimanding John Bucher for violation of Rules 1.3 (Diligence), 1.4(a) (Communication), and 8.4(a) (Misconduct) of the Rules of Professional Conduct.

In summary:
Mr. Bucher was retained to represent a client in a misdemeanor case. Mr. Bucher did not find out the nature of the hearing he needed to attend. Mr. Bucher thought it was a sentencing, but it was a trial. Mr. Bucher filed a motion to continue the trial, but did not file the correct paperwork with the court for the motion to continue, and did not attend the trial. The client was found guilty and a sentencing hearing was scheduled. Mr. Bucher attended the sentencing hearing, and after the client was sentenced, informed the client he would assist with an appeal, but failed to do so.

ADMONITION

ADMONITION

On October 22, 2004, the Chair of the Ethics and Discipline Committee of the Utah Supreme Court entered an Order of Discipline: Admonition admonishing an attorney for violation of Rules 1.2(a) (Scope of Representation), 1.3 (Diligence), 1.4(a) (Communication), 1.5(a) (Fees), 1.16(d) (Declining or Terminating Representation), and 8.4(a) (Misconduct) of the Rules of Professional Conduct.

In summary:
An attorney was retained to seek a reduction of felony convictions. The attorney was paid $1500. The attorney performed no meaningful work on behalf of the client. The attorney failed to keep the client reasonably informed of the status of the case and did not promptly comply with reasonable requests for information. The attorney abandoned the representation without providing notice to the client, and without returning the unearned retainer.

Mitigating factors include: The client is willing to have the attorney complete the matter. The attorney was very candid with the Screening Panel. The attorney is receiving professional help for depression. The attorney is now in an office with other lawyers and support staff.

PUBLIC REPRIMAND

PUBLIC REPRIMAND

On October 22, 2004, the Chair of the Ethics and Discipline Committee of the Utah Supreme Court entered an Order of Discipline: Public Reprimand reprimanding John Bucher for violation of Rules 1.3 (Diligence), 1.4 (Communication), 1.5(b) (Fees), and 8.4(a) (Misconduct) of the Rules of Professional Conduct.

In summary:
Mr. Bucher was retained to represent a mother and daughter in a Department of Child and Family Services matter and to file a petition to change custody of the mother’s grandchild from the mother’s daughter to the mother. The mother initially paid Mr. Bucher $500. Mr. Bucher did not file the petition for three months. The mother subsequently paid Mr. Bucher another $400. Mr. Bucher did not communicate in writing the basis and rate of his fee within a reasonable time of the representation to the mother or the mother’s daughter. Mr. Bucher did not explain to the mother or the mother’s daughter the nature of the legal proceedings or how the proceedings might affect them.

October 22, 2004

RESIGNATION WITH DISCIPLINE PENDING

RESIGNATION WITH DISCIPLINE PENDING

On September 27, 2004, the Honorable Christine M. Durham, Chief Justice, Utah Supreme Court, entered an Order Accepting Resignation with Discipline Pending concerning Todd R. Cannon.

In summary:
On March 18, 2004, Mr. Cannon entered a guilty plea to a charge of Conspiracy to Commit Offense or Defraud the United States. Mr. Cannon submitted a Petition for Resignation with Discipline Pending to the Utah Supreme Court on August 18, 2004. Mr. Cannon’s petition admits that the facts underlying his guilty plea constitute grounds for discipline.

Mr. Cannon participated in an ongoing conspiracy to promote and sell a fraudulent trust scheme designed to evade federal income taxes, defeat the lawful functioning of the Internal Revenue Service, and to fraudulently obtain money or property from United States citizens by use of the mails and wires.

PUBLIC REPRIMAND

PUBLIC REPRIMAND

On September 23, 2004, the Chair of the Ethics and Discipline Committee of the Utah Supreme Court entered an Order of Discipline: Public Reprimand reprimanding Victor Lawrence for violation of Rules 1.1 (Competence), 1.3 (Diligence), 1.4(a) (Communication), 3.3 (Candor Toward the Tribunal), and 8.4(a) (Misconduct) of the Rules of Professional Conduct.

In summary:
Mr. Lawrence represented debtors in a bankruptcy matter. In a ruling, the bankruptcy court stated that the debtors did not give the notice required to the creditors. Mr. Lawrence failed to list all creditors on the court’s mailing matrix of interested parties, even after receiving the trustee’s objection. Mr. Lawrence’s lack of competence denied the debtors their day in court. Mr. Lawrence also failed to pursue with the bankruptcy court issues of allowances and reimbursements due to the debtors and a creditor, and failed to communicate with the debtors regarding management of the cash collateral necessary to continue the debtors business. The court stated that Mr. Lawrence admitted to filing a false certificate of mailing with the court regarding the creditors.

SUSPENSION

SUSPENSION

On September 22, 2004, the Honorable Frank G. Noel, Third Judicial District Court, entered an Order of Discipline: Suspension, suspending Charles C. Brown from the practice of law for six months and one day for violation of Rules 1.7 (Conflict of Interest: General Rule), 1.8(a) (Conflict of Interest: Prohibited Transactions), 1.9(a) (Conflict of Interest: Former Client), and 8.4(a) (Misconduct), Rules of Professional Conduct. The effective date of suspension is November 24, 1998.

In summary:
On November 24, 1998, Mr. Brown was voluntarily placed on interim suspension pursuant to Rule 18 of the Rules of Lawyer Discipline and Disability.

Mr. Brown represented a client who held a business interest in a company while simultaneously serving on the board of directors, holding an ownership interest, and entering into an employment agreement with the company. In an action brought against the client, Mr. Brown’s law firm also represented the opposing party until the court prohibited that representation.

ADMONITION

ADMONITION

On September 16 2004, the Chair of the Ethics and Discipline Committee of the Utah Supreme Court admonished an attorney for violation of Rules 1.5(a) (Fees), 1.16(d) (Declining or Terminating Representation), and 8.4(a) and (c) (Misconduct) of the Rules of Professional Conduct.

In summary:
An attorney was retained by a client to represent the client’s interests in the client’s deceased spouse’s estate. The attorney indicated to the client that the deceased spouse’s children should retain an attorney to represent the children, because the attorney intended to sue the children. The client’s parent informed the attorney not to sue the children. The client terminated the attorney’s services, but the attorney would not cease the representation. The attorney attempted to have the client sign a contract, but the client would not sign it. The attorney billed the client for services after termination of the representation, but later claimed it was an error. The attorney filed a motion in court in an attempt to avoid termination of representation from the case. The attorney finally withdrew from the case.

DISBARMENT

DISBARMENT

On September 8, 2004, the Honorable Joseph C. Fratto, Third Judicial District Court, entered an Order of Discipline: Disbarment, disbarring Jerry Crist from the practice of law in the State of Utah pursuant to Rule 22 (Reciprocal Discipline) of the Rules of Lawyer Discipline and Disability.

In summary:
Mr. Crist was disbarred by the Supreme Court of Colorado for abandoning his law practice and his clients, and for his unlawful use of methamphetamine. Mr. Crist missed numerous pretrial conferences, motions hearings, trial dates, and other client appointments in criminal and civil matters.

September 9, 2004

SUSPENSION

SUSPENSION

On August 10, 2004, the Honorable Anthony Quinn, Third Judicial District Court entered an Order of Suspension: Six Months and One Day Suspension, suspending Sheryl L. Gardner Bunker from the practice of law for violation of Rules 1.1 (Competence), 1.7(a) (Conflict of Interest: General Rule), 3.3(d) (Candor Toward the Tribunal), 3.4 (Fairness to Opposing Party and Counsel), 3.7 (Lawyer as a Witness), and 8.4(a) and (d) (Misconduct) of the Rules of Professional Conduct.

In summary:

Ms. Bunker answered questions about divorce, court procedures, and the legal process posed by both parties in a divorce proceeding. She also gave both parties copies of Utah laws dealing with divorce. After the divorce case had been initiated, the district court disqualified Ms. Bunker from appearing as counsel for one of the parties because Ms. Bunker was a witness on substantive issues. Ms. Bunker continued to assist one of the parties by helping type pleadings, lending forms and sample pleadings, and discussing legal options and procedures.

In the same case, Ms. Bunker later filed a Motion for Protective Order and for Attorney Fees on behalf of two officers of one of her corporate clients. Ms. Bunker did not consult with and obtain a written waiver of conflicts of interest from the relevant parties. The Motion for Protective Order concerned depositions sought by one of the parties to the divorce. In connection with the motion, Ms. Bunker assisted one of the officers in blacking out relevant portions of documentary evidence and filed it with an affidavit in support of the motion. Although Ms. Bunker attempted to serve notice of the motion on opposing counsel, service was not successful. The presiding judge for the district court heard Ms. Bunker’s Motion for Protective Order in the absence of the judge assigned to the case. Ms. Bunker did not inform the presiding judge what information had been blacked out in the redacted documentary evidence when she obtained an ex parte order from the judge vacating the witnesses' scheduled deposition.

PUBLIC REPRIMAND

PUBLIC REPRIMAND

On August 10, 2004, the Chair of the Ethics and Discipline Committee of the Utah Supreme Court publicly reprimanded Brent R. Chipman for violation of Rules 1.3 (Diligence), 1.5(b) (Fees), and 8.4(a) (Misconduct) of the Rules of Professional Conduct.

In summary:

Mr. Chipman was retained to represent a client in a divorce case. Mr. Chipman did not communicate the rate or basis of his fee in writing to the client. Mr. Chipman agreed to prepare a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (“QDRO”) for the client. Mr. Chipman failed to complete the QDRO despite numerous requests from the client over a two year period to complete the work.

PROBATION

PROBATION

On August 3, 2004, the Honorable J. Dennis Frederick, Third Judicial District Court entered an Order of Discipline: Probation, placing Annalisa A. Steggell on probation for a period of one year. The Office of Professional Conduct (“OPC”) alleged violations of Rules 4.3(b) (Dealing with Unrepresented Party), 8.1(b) (Bar Admission and Disciplinary Matters), and 8.4(a) (Misconduct) of the Rules of Professional Conduct.

In summary:

Ms. Steggell represented a client in a divorce case. The client’s spouse claimed that Ms. Steggell represented that she was a neutral party who would act as a mediator during the divorce proceedings and made no effort to correct the spouse’s misunderstanding. The spouse was unrepresented. Ms. Steggell failed to respond to the OPC’s reasonable requests for information or attend the Utah Supreme Court’s Ethics and Discipline Committee’s Screening Panel Hearing.

NOTICE APPOINTING TRUSTEE TO PROTECT THE INTERESTS OF THE CLIENTS OF THE LATE D. RICHARD SMITH

NOTICE APPOINTING TRUSTEE TO PROTECT THE INTERESTS OF THE CLIENTS OF THE LATE D. RICHARD SMITH

On August 3, 2004, the Honorable Frank G. Noel, Third Judicial District Court, entered an Order Appointing Trustee to Protect the Interests of the Clients of D. Richard Smith. Pursuant to Rule 27 of the Rules of Lawyer Discipline and Disability, Roy D. Cole is appointed as trustee to take control of client files and other property that was in Mr. Smith’s possession, and distribute them to the clients.

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