Note:More than 11,500 attorneys are eligible to practice law in Oregon. Some of them share the same name or similar names. All discipline reports should be read carefully for names, addresses and bar numbers.
On June 17, 2002, the disciplinary board approved a stipulation for discipline publicly reprimanding Roseburg attorney Sharon Hockett for violation of DR 9-101(C)(1) (failure to promptly notify the client of the receipt of client funds or other property) and DR 9-101(C)(4) (failure to promptly deliver client funds or property).
A client retained Hockett to represent her in a dissolution of marriage proceeding. In June 2000, the court ordered the client’s husband to pay temporary spousal support to Hockett’s client. In October 2000, Hockett, at her client’s request, advised opposing counsel that the husband should deliver his spousal support checks to Hockett’s office for delivery to her client.
In early November 2000, the husband delivered his check for the November support payment to Hockett. The check was payable to Hockett’s client. Hockett failed to notify her client that she had received the check and did not send it to her client. In early December 2000, the husband delivered his check for the December support payment to Hockett. The check was payable to Hockett’s client. Hockett failed to notify her client that she had received the check and did not send it to her client.
In November and December 2000, the client notified Hockett that she had not received the spousal support payments. The client relied on the support payments for her living expenses and asked Hockett to take action. In late December 2000, the client learned from her husband’s lawyer that her husband had delivered the support checks to Hockett. The client demanded that Hockett deliver the checks to her, but she delayed in doing so.
Hockett was admitted to practice in 1981 and had no prior record of formal discipline.
BEVERLY LONG PENZ
On June 25, 2002, the disciplinary board approved a stipulation for discipline publicly reprimanding LaGrande attorney Beverly Long Penz for violation of DR 7-110(A)(ex parte communication with the court).
Husband and wife were divorced. The wife was awarded custody of the parties’ children. In August 2001, the ex-husband filed a motion to modify the decree for custody of the children. The ex-husband was represented by counsel. The ex-wife retained Penz to represent her.
In late November 2001, without notice to the ex-husband’s counsel, Penz submitted a motion for a psychological home study, supporting affidavit and proposed order to the court. The court granted the motion and signed the order. Penz did not provide the ex-husband’s counsel with notice of the motion or her intent to present it to the court; did not provide the ex-husband’s counsel with a copy of the motion, affidavit and order either before or after she presented the documents to the court; and did not promptly notify the ex-husband’s counsel that the court had granted her client’s motion.
Penz was admitted to practice in 1984 and had a prior record of formal discipline.
WILLIAM R. VALENT
On June 25, 2002, the disciplinary board approved a stipulation for discipline publicly reprimanding Portland lawyer William R. Valent for violation of DR 6-101(B) (neglect of a legal matter).
A client retained Valent to represent him in dissolution of marriage matter. Valent filed a petition for dissolution of the parties’ marriage in December 2000. The parties agreed to settle their differences, and in late June 2001, Valent submitted necessary documents to the court. The court returned the documents to Valent with notice that an affidavit failed to include all required information. The documents were placed in the client’s file by Valent’s office staff and were not resubmitted to the court. Valent did not notify his client that the judgment of dissolution had not been signed and that the client remained married, and otherwise took no action on the case. The court dismissed the dissolution case for want of prosecution in late August 2001, with notice and a judgment of dismissal mailed to Valent.
Between about early July and early November 2001, Valent failed to review the client’s file, failed to communicate with his client, and failed to complete the dissolution case. In early November 2001, the client learned from a source other than Valent that the judgment of dissolution had not been signed and his dissolution case had been dismissed. After the client notified Valent what he had discovered, Valent resubmitted the necessary documents to the court. The judgment of dissolution was signed by the court in mid-November 2001.
Valent was admitted to practice in 1985 and had no prior formal record of discipline.
DENNIS J. WINE
On June 25, 2002, the disciplinary board approved a stipulation for discipline reprimanding Tillamook attorney Denise J. Wine for violation of DR 6-101(B) (neglect of a legal matter) and DR 9-101(C)(4) (failure to promptly deliver client property).
In or about June 1996, a client retained Wine to pursue contractual claims relating to a real property development. In and after June 1996, Wine, with the assistance of an associate, represented the client concerning the claims, including communications concerning settlement negotiations and the preparation of drafts of various pleadings for a contemplated lawsuit.
In or about November 1997, Wine requested and client provided a filing fee for the lawsuit. In early November 1997, Wine communicated a settlement proposal to the opposing party’s counsel. Between mid November and late December 1997, the opposing party’s lawyer sent eight letters to Wine concerning settlement issues. Wine did not provide his client with a copy of some of the letters or otherwise inform him of the content of the communications.
The client understood the case had been settled and settlement documents needed to be prepared and signed. Wine understood that the case had not been settled, but failed to clearly inform his client. Between about late December 1997 and the fall of 1999, Wine failed to take action to accomplish his client’s objectives and pursue his claims. Although Wine asserted that he understood that the client was obtaining documents to facilitate settlement, he acknowledged that he made no inquiry and did not communicate with the client about the issue.
About August 1999, Wine notified the client that he was going to move to California and delivered a copy of a civil complaint to the client for him to file against the opposing party. Shortly thereafter, Wine delivered the client’s file and the funds the client had given to him for a filing fee to a law firm with which Wine had associated. In late January 2000, the other law firm returned the client’s filing fee to the client and the file to Wine.
Sometime after December 1999, the client requested a complete copy of his file. In mid March 2000, Wine provided the client with a copy of a portion of his file, but failed to deliver copies of certain documents.
Wine was admitted to practice in 1985. He had no prior record of formal discipline.
On March 14, 2002, the Oregon Supreme Court disbarred Portland lawyer Nikolaus Albrecht for violation of DR 1-102(A)(2), DR 1-102(A)(3), DR 7-102(A)(7) and DR 7-102(A)(8). The disbarment was effective July 28, 2002.
The disciplinary rule violations arose out of Albrecht’s participation in a money-laundering scheme. In March 1987, a former client of Albrecht’s was released from prison, where he had served time for murdering his drug supplier. Several months after his release, this client approached Albrecht for legal services in connection with real estate purchases for 'investors.' The client would deliver money to Albrecht in the form of cash and cashier’s checks, which Albrecht deposited into a special trust account established for this purpose. Albrecht would then write checks on this trust account to make down payments on real estate purchased on behalf of the 'investors.' Albrecht helped the client complete several real estate transactions between 1987 and 1989.
In May 1989, the client removed almost all of the money from trust and left the state. Several weeks later, one of the client’s 'investors' contacted Albrecht and asked him to render the same services (i.e., running money through his trust account) as Albrecht had previously performed for his client. This 'investor' was a virtual stranger to Albrecht. Nevertheless, Albrecht agreed to assist.
In May 1991, law enforcement authorities arrested a former drug associate of the client’s. Investigation of that case led to information that client, 'investor,' and Albrecht were laundering money derived from drug transactions.
Albrecht denied that his participation in this criminal money-laundering scheme was 'knowing.' However, the Oregon Supreme Court found that the circumstances proved otherwise. Albrecht knew that his client had a history of dealing drugs. The checks he was given obviously involved aliases. Albrecht treated these funds substantially differently from the funds he handled for other clients and in a manner that strongly suggested his knowledge of their illegal origins. The court also found that the circumstances of the client’s abrupt departure from town were suspicious, as was Albrecht’s continuing involvement with the 'investor.'
By violating the federal money-laundering statutes, Albrecht violated DR 1-102(A)(2), DR 1-102(A)(3), DR 7-102(A)(7) and DR 7-102(A)(8). In imposing a sanction, the court noted that the money-laundering scheme reflected adversely on Albrecht’s honesty, trustworthiness and general fitness to practice law. He also caused actual injury to the public by helping drug dealers circumvent laws designed to assist in the detection of crime.
EDWARD J. BENETT
On Feb. 27, 2002, the disciplinary board approved a stipulation suspending Portland lawyer Edward J. Benett from the practice of law for 180 days, effective immediately, for violating DR 1-102(A)(3) (conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation), DR 1-102(A)(4) (conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice) and DR 7-102(A)(5) (knowingly make a false statement of law or fact).
Benett represented plaintiffs in a circuit court case that was set for trial on June 3, 1999. On May 27, 1999, Benett appeared in court at the time designated for ex parte matters and presented a motion to postpone trial until August 31, 1999. In that motion, Benett falsely represented that the opposing parties consented to the new trial date and that he had served a copy of the motion on the opposing lawyers.
The stipulation states that, because Benett is presently suspended as a result of discipline imposed in a prior matter, he will be required to apply for formal reinstatement under BR 8.1, when the term of this suspension expires.
FREDERIC E. CANN
Effective July 4, 2002, the disciplinary board approved a stipulation for discipline suspending Portland lawyer Frederic E. Cann from the practice of law for 180 days for violating DR 1-102(A)(3) (conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation), DR 1-102(A)(4) (conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice), DR 5-101(A) (self-interest conflict) and DR 5-104(A) (business relations with a client).
Cann undertook to represent a client as personal representative of her ex-husband’s estate. Without informing his client and without obtaining her consent after full disclosure, Cann and a business partner, using a straw man, purchased a piece of property from the estate. At the time, ORS 114.355(1)(a) provided that any sale in a probate proceeding to the attorney of the personal representative is voidable unless consented to by all interested persons. Cann failed to inform the court that he was one of the true purchasers and failed to obtain consent to the sale from all interested persons.
In connection with the sale of the property, Cann prepared and had his client and the straw man execute land sale agreements and a deed identifying the straw man as buyer and grantee. At the time Cann prepared these documents and had them executed, he knew that the representations about the identity of the buyer and grantee were false.
After the land sale agreements had been signed, but before the property was conveyed from Cann’s client to the straw man, a lawyer, who represented a lender holding a trust deed on the property, issued a trustee’s notice of sale. Cann executed an acceptance of service of that notice in which he knowingly misrepresented that he was the lawyer for the straw man. When Cann subsequently paid the lender in full, he knowingly misrepresented the source of the funds used to make the payment.
In connection with the sale, Cann prepared an indemnity agreement which was signed by him, his business partner and the straw man. The agreement provided that the straw man was taking title to the property as nominee for Cann and his business partner and that he would convey the property 'to the order of ' Cann when the sale was completed. At the same time, Cann and his business partner signed another agreement which provided that, when the property was conveyed from the straw man 'to the order of' Cann, Cann would hold it as nominee for himself and his business partner. Thereafter, despite these agreements and without his business partner’s knowledge or consent, Cann had the straw man convey the property to a business entity wholly and solely owned by Cann.
WARREN G. MOE
Effective July 4, 2002, a trial panel of the disciplinary board suspended Astoria lawyer Warren G. Moe from the practice of law for four months for violating DR 2-106(A) (collecting a clearly excessive fee), DR 6-101(A) (failing to provide competent representation), DR 6-101(B) (neglect of a legal matter entrusted to the lawyer), DR 9-101(A) (failing to deposit client funds into a trust account), DR 9-101(C)(3) (failing to maintain records and render appropriate accountings) and DR 9-101(C)(4) (failing to promptly return funds to a client).
In August 1998, Moe was retained by a client to complete a dissolution of marriage proceeding she had begun earlier in the year. Moe agreed to complete the matter for a flat fee of $750. There was no written retainer agreement. Moe failed to deposit the funds into his lawyer trust account and failed to maintain records or render appropriate accountings regarding those funds.
During the following eleven months, Moe performed some work on the matter. However, he failed to adequately review or prepare the matter regarding whether the court had jurisdiction over a minor child, and failed to advance his client’s interests or respond to her numerous inquiries about the status of the matter over the course of almost six months.
In August 1999, Moe withdrew from representing the client. Even though Moe had not completed the dissolution of marriage proceeding at the time he withdrew, he failed to refund monies to his client until June 2000.
DONNA M. MATTHEWS
On July 10, 2002, the disciplinary board approved a stipulation for discipline between the Oregon State Bar and Eugene attorney Donna Matthews. Pursuant to the stipulation, Matthews was publicly reprimanded for violating DR 5-101(A) (self interest conflict) and DR 6-101(A) (competency).
The circumstances giving rise to the discipline were as follows: A grandmother filed a petition for custody, parenting time and child support regarding her grandson. The petition named two respondents, mother and father. Matthews agreed to represent father and, after consulting with her client, decided not to immediately notify opposing counsel of her representation. Thereafter, Matthews made a calendaring error and filed father’s response to the petition late, shortly after opposing counsel had taken a default order.
Upon learning of the default order, Matthews prepared and filed a motion to set aside the default. Prior to filing the motion, Matthews, while advising her client that the default was the result of a calendaring error, did not fully discuss the potential ramifications of her error or the effect that error might have on her professional judgment should she continue to represent him. Moreover, Matthews did not advise father to seek independent counsel prior to determining whether Matthews should continue to represent him in the custody matter. Ultimately, the court declined to set aside the default order.
For failing to advise opposing counsel of her representation, for failing to ensure that father’s response was timely filed and for failing to comply with the full disclosure requirements of DR 10-101 after a default order was taken against her client, Matthews violated DR 5-101(A) and DR 6-101(A). Matthews has no prior discipline.
ERIK D. WANGEN
Form B resignation
Effective July 2, 2002, the Oregon Supreme Court accepted the Form B resignation of Portland attorney Erik D. Wangen.
At the time of the resignation, a formal complaint was pending against Wangen alleging that in two client matters, he had failed to respond to the bar’s investigation; in a third client matter, he converted the client’s portion of personal injury settlement proceeds; and in a fourth matter, he was found in willful contempt of court for failure to pay his child support obligation in violation of DR 1-103(C) (failure to cooperate with the bar), DR 1-102(A)(3) (conduct involving dishonesty), DR 7-102(A)(8) (other illegal conduct), DR 9-101(A) (trust account violation), DR 9-101(C)(3) (failure to maintain adequate records of client funds), DR 9-101(C)(4) (failure to promptly return client funds), DR 1-102(A)(4) (conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice) and DR 7-106(A) (disregarding a ruling of a tribunal).
Wangen’s client files and client records have been placed in the custody of Richard Weill of Troutdale.
ARTHUR B. CUMMINS JR.
On Aug. 1, 2002, the disciplinary board approved a stipulation reprimanding Salem lawyer Arthur B. Cummins, Jr., for violating DR 1-102(A(3) (conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation).
Cummins was retained to pursue a claim for damages on behalf of an individual who sustained injuries on a trampoline at an athletic facility. Cummins visited the athletic facility and had a conversation with an employee of the facility. In that conversation, Cummins identified himself as a grandfather who was interested in gymnastics and whose children and grandchildren had been involved in gymnastic classes at another facility. Cummins knowingly concealed that he was a lawyer, that he had sued the facility, and that he hoped to determine whether a specific trampoline was the one on which his client had been injured. Only after Cummins had been taken on a tour of the facility and only after the employee identified the trampoline on which Cummins’ client had been injured, did Cummins reveal his identity and the purpose of his visit.
On June 7, 2002, the supreme court issued an opinion suspending Portland lawyer Margaretta Eakin for 60 days for violating DR 9-101(A), DR 9-101(C)(3) and DR 9-101(C)(4). The suspension became effective 60 days after the court’s opinion.
Between 1991 and 1996, Eakin represented a client in a contract dispute. The client advanced money for costs. Eakin deposited this money into trust. At one point in the litigation, Eakin contacted an expert to assist in preparing a damages analysis. She was later informed by the expert that it would cost several thousand dollars to perform a complete analysis, but that, to date, he had incurred fees and expenses totaling $850, for which he had not yet billed.
Without waiting for the billing, Eakin told her client that she would pay this amount to the expert. The expert never did submit the bill, however, and Eakin never paid him the $850. Nevertheless, she later withdrew this amount from trust to 'reimburse' herself.
The bar charged Eakin with conversion and violation of her ethical duties to deal properly with client funds. Eakin admitted mishandling the $850, but claimed she had done so in the mistaken belief she had paid the expert. The supreme court dismissed the conversion charge for lack of clear and convincing evidence. However, it found that Eakin had mishandled her client’s funds, had failed to maintain adequate trust account records and failed to return the $850 when her client asked for the unearned portion of his retainer.
The supreme court suspended Eakin, rather than publicly reprimanding her, as it concluded that Eakin 'should have known' that she was dealing improperly with client funds. Her substantial experience in the practice of law weighed heavily against her in this regard.
BRIAN J. SUNDERLAND
On Aug. 1, 2002, the disciplinary board approved a stipulation for discipline for a public reprimand of Clackamas lawyer Brian J. Sunderland for neglect of a legal matter in violation of DR 6-101(B).
In August 1999, Sunderland met with husband and wife to arrange for husband to adopt wife’s teenage daughter, among other matters. The birth father had not been involved in the child’s life and his whereabouts were unknown. Sunderland timely filed a petition for adoption. Three months passed before Sunderland sent to a newspaper of general circulation the legal notice for publication of the petition. Sunderland failed to get court approval for the petition to be published.
Upon learning this fact, Sunderland subsequently filed an affidavit for alternative service with the court in April 2000, that was approved in July 2000. Service by publication was completed in August 2000. In September 2000, Sunderland served a request for waiver of home study on the state office for Services to Children and Families. In October 2000, Sunderland forwarded the remaining documents requiring the clients’ signatures. The clients returned the signed documents at the end of November 2000. Thereafter, Sunderland himself had no further contact with SCF. In January 2001, Sunderland filed a petition for an order of default. In May 2001, SCF finally granted the waiver of home study and the adoption was completed in June 2001, nearly two years after Sunderland initially met with the clients. The accused timely completed the other matters unrelated to the adoption.
The stipulation recited that Sunderland had substantial experience in the practice of law, did not act with a dishonest motive, had cooperated in the investigation of his conduct and was remorseful.
NORMAN L. GOODFRIEND
Form B resignation
On July 23, 2002, the Oregon Supreme Court accepted the Form B resignation of Norman L. Goodfriend of Acton, Calif. The resignation was submitted following Goodfriend’s disbarment by the California Supreme Court in March 2002, for misappropriation of $93,000 in client funds.
Goodfriend, while an Oregon bar member since 1995, had been suspended since 1997, for failing to pay dues and to comply with Oregon MCLE requirements. The resignation became effective immediately.
MICHAEL F. JARVILL
Form B resignation
On July 23, 2002, the Oregon Supreme Court accepted the Form B resignation of Michael F. Jarvill of Stanwood, Wash.
At the time of resignation, Jarvill was under investigation by the bar in two matters. In the first, it was alleged that Jarvill solicited and received funds from an Oklahoma resident with assurances that the funds would be placed in a short-term, no-risk investment, but that the investor never received repayment of these funds. In the second matter, it was alleged that approximately $500,000 was converted from a probate estate account for which Jarvill and his wife were signators, and that the funds were never paid back to the estate. These allegations implicated DR 1-102(A)(2) (criminal conduct), DR 1-102(A)(3) (dishonesty), DR 9-101(A) (trust account violations) and ORS 9.527(4) (deceit).
Jarvill has not resided or practiced law in Oregon in several years. The resignation became effective immediately.