Monday, June 4, 2012

Bankrupt Practices Get Lawyer Disbarred

A disbarment reported in the most recent edition of the California Bar Journal:

[An attorney] was disbarred March 2, 2012, and was ordered to make restitution and comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court.

[The attorney] stipulated to 34 counts of misconduct in nine matters, most involving bankruptcy. He failed to perform legal services in every case. In the bankruptcy matters, he sometimes failed to file the petitions and other documents, correct deficiencies or appear at hearings. In a breach of contract action, [he] did not respond to or oppose motions or appear at hearings. He failed to provide documentation to a lender in a foreclosure action.

In one matter, [his] office administrator told a couple facing foreclosure that a Chapter 13 bankruptcy would help keep them in their home. [He] filed a bankruptcy petition but did not file the required documents and the case was dismissed. The office administrator told the clients not to worry because [he] would take care of the dismissal. Their home was sold in a foreclosure sale and the buyer filed an unlawful detainer. [He] did not file a response or provide a refund to the clients. Instead, he said he would file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition but did not do so.

In other matters, [he] did not account for or refund unearned fees, respond to client inquiries, report sanctions to the bar or cooperate with the bar’s investigation, and he aided others in the unauthorized practice of law and committed acts of moral turpitude by disobeying court orders. He was ordered to make restitution of almost $25,000.

He was publicly reproved in 2004 for commingling funds in his trust account and failing to properly maintain or deposit funds. In mitigation, he cooperated with the bar’s investigation and was suffering severe financial stress as a result of the dissolution of his marriage.

(Mike Frisch)

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Disbarment is usually a punishment of last resort; usually other disciplinary actions will first be taken before an attorney is disbarred. He might be censured, fined, suspended, required to undergo counseling.

Posted by: Tom Henry | Jun 12, 2012 12:23:34 AM

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