Monday, January 27, 2014
Two probate court attorneys involved in the estate of four families failed to disclose an investment the pair made together before billing the estates over $400,000 in legal fees. The attorneys’ investment was enough of a red flag for the district chief judge to issue an order stating that the two attorneys could not be involved in the same estate without a court order of approval.
A judge followed up with the order and asked one of the attorneys Tamra Palmer to advise him of any cases the two had worked on with Jennifer Gromley. She responded with the names of four families, but claimed that she was appointed before the April order. Cliff Battista former trustee of one of the estates that Gromley was managing was replaced as by Palmer after she testified that Battista misspent trust funds. The estate was worth over $732,187 and has collected over $50,000 in fees. The families of the other estates also have complaints about the two's relationship.
Now, Palmer, Gormley, and a third attorney work in the same office building. The rules of professional responsibility forbid attorneys to represent a client if there is a conflict of interest. The problem is there is there is room for interpretation and a business relationship does not necessarily create a conflict.
See David Olinger, Heirs Cry Foul, Say Two Colorado Probate Lawyers Depleted Their Estates, The Denver Post, Jan. 26, 2013.
Special thanks to Jim Hillhouse (Professional Legal Marketing (PLM, Inc.)) and Brian Cohan (Attorney at Law, Law Offices of Brian J. Cohan, P.C.) for bringing this article to my attention.