Oregon State Bar Bulletin — APRIL 2004

Discipline

Note: Almost 12,100 persons 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.

FREDERICK R. CORNILLES
OSB #61016
Lake Oswego
Form B resignation

Effective Dec. 31, 2003, the Oregon Supreme Court accepted the Form B resignation of Lake Oswego attorney Frederick R. Cornilles. At the time of resignation, a trial panel had rendered a decision suspending Cornilles for 30 months for violating DR 1-102(A)(1), DR 1-102(A)(3), DR 4-101(B)(1), DR 4-101(B)(3) and DR 5-101(A), in connection with a business plan in which Cornilles gave independent insurance agents access to his client list and then shared in commissions generated from sales of insurance to the clients. The trial panel found that Cornilles misled his clients by failing to disclose that the persons coming to the clients’ homes ostensibly to do 'trust reviews,' were really independent insurance agents who would try to sell them insurance. The trial panel’s decision was on appeal to the supreme court at the time of Cornilles’ resignation.

Cornilles was admitted to practice in September 1961. His client files are currently in the possession of Ben Henzel, Litchfield & Carstens, and Jeanne Smith & Associates.

KARL W. FERRIER
OSB #87137
Ocean Park, Wash.
Disbarment

Effective Jan. 27, 2004, the Oregon Supreme Court disbarred Ocean Park, Wash. lawyer Karl W. Ferrier, pursuant to BR 3.5 (reciprocal discipline). The state of Washington previously disbarred Ferrier for 28 violations of the Washington Rules of Professional Conduct, including: RPC 8.4(b) (engaging in criminal acts); RPC 8.4(c) (conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation); RPC 1.14(a) (failing to deposit or maintain client funds in trust); RPC 1.15(d) (improper withdrawal); RPC 1.3 and RPC 1.4(a)&(b) (neglect of a legal matter) and RPC 1.5(a) (charging an illegal or clearly excessive fee). The violations arose from Ferrier’s representation of clients in four separate matters.

Ferrier failed to deposit client retainers into his client trust account and instead deposited them into his general business account and converted the funds for his own use or uses not related to his clients’ representation. Ferrier thereafter failed to account for or return any unearned portions of the retainers or advance his client’s legal interests. Ferrier also failed to respond to his client’s requests and was found to have done little, if anything, to advance his client’s legal interests. Ferrier thereafter failed to cooperate with the Washington State Bar Association in its disciplinary proceeding.

THOMAS E. KNAPP
OSB #85257
Salem
Form B resignation

On Jan. 21, 2004, the Oregon Supreme Court accepted the Form B resignation of Thomas E. Knapp of Salem. At the time of the resignation, a formal complaint was pending against Knapp alleging that between June 1997 and May 2000, Knapp misappropriated funds from an estate, paid himself fees in two estates without an order from the court, filed false or misleading estate accountings and fee petitions, failed to maintain estate funds in a trust account, failed to cooperate with the bar’s investigation of his conduct and failed to properly account for or return a retainer paid by a client, in violation of the following disciplinary rules: DR 1-102(A)(2); DR 1-102(A)(3); DR 1-102(A)(4); DR 1-103(C); DR 2-106(A); DR 9-101(A); DR 9-101(C)(3) and DR 9-101(C)(4).

Knapp’s resignation was effective Jan. 21, 2004, and his files have been placed in the custody of Dale R. Kennedy, Salem.

GEORGE M. JENNINGS
OSB #75198
Salem
30-day suspension

On Feb. 5, 2004, the disciplinary board approved a stipulation suspending Salem lawyer George M. Jennings for 30 days, effective April 16, 2004 for violating DR 4-101(B) (knowingly reveal client confidence or secret), DR 5-105(C) (former client conflict of interest) and DR 7-104(A)(1) (communicating with a represented party).

In 1995, at Jennings’ direction, an associate at his firm prepared a last will and testament, a durable power of attorney and a revocable living trust for the mother of a long-time client. Jennings did not believe the mother was a client, but failed to inform her of his belief, and she could have had a reasonable expectation that Jennings represented her with regard to those estate planning documents. The revocable living trust named the client, his mother and his brother as trustees.

In 1999, another lawyer contacted Jennings’ office and stated that he was representing the mother and wanted a copy of the estate planning documents. The lawyer sent a letter asking for copies of the documents and enclosing an authorization for release of information and documents signed by the mother. At Jennings’ direction, his secretary called the long-time client who instructed Jennings not to send the estate planning documents to the other lawyer.

Jennings then met with his long-time client and informed him that he had to send the estate planning documents to the other lawyer unless the mother revoked the authorization she had signed. Jennings then prepared a revocation and provided it to his long-time client knowing that the mother was represented by a lawyer and knowing that his long-time client would communicate with his mother for the purpose of determining whether she wanted to sign the revocation. The mother signed the revocation and Jennings did not provide a copy of the estate planning documents to the other lawyer.

A year later, the other lawyer sent another letter to Jennings requesting a copy of the estate planning documents. He enclosed an authorization for release of information and documents signed by the mother. In relevant part, the release instructed Jennings not to communicate the authorization or change of lawyer to any person, and specifically not to Jennings’ long-time client. After Jennings received the authorization, he decided to withdraw from representing his long-time client with regard to his mother’s estate. However, before doing so, he knowingly informed his long-time client about the existence and substance of the release.

RONALD K. CUE
OSB #76114
Ashland
Disbarred

Effective March 1, 2004, the Oregon Supreme Court disbarred Ashland attorney Ronald K. Cue for violating DR 1-102(A)(3) (engaging in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation); DR 1-103(C) (failing to cooperate with disciplinary investigation); DR 6-101(A) (providing incompetent representation to client); DR 6-101(B) (neglecting legal matter); DR 7-101(A)(2) (failing to carry out contract with client); DR 9-101(A) (failing to deposit client funds in trust account) and DR 9-101(C)(3) (failing to maintain complete records and to render appropriate accounts to client regarding funds).

Cue agreed to represent a client concerning a criminal matter for a flat fee. The client paid a portion of the fee, but shortly thereafter terminated the attorney client relationship and asked Cue to return the funds that had been paid. Cue did not have a written fee agreement that provided that the fee was earned on receipt. He did not deposit the client’s funds in a lawyer trust account and did not prepare a record of his receipt and the disposition of the client’s funds. Cue also failed to account to the client for the funds he received.

In another matter, a client retained Cue to file a motion to set aside a criminal conviction and arrest record. The client paid Cue for the services and costs in advance. Cue failed to tell the client that he did not qualify for an order to set aside the conviction and arrest record because he had been convicted of two crimes during a qualifying period. Over the next four years, Cue failed to take action to accomplish the client’s objectives and made false representations to the client concerning the status of the matter. The client filed a complaint with the bar. Cue failed to respond to the bar’s requests for his explanation.

Cue was admitted to practice in 1976. He had a prior record of discipline.

ANTHONY L. WORTH
OSB #89145
Pendleton
60-day suspension

Effective Feb. 2, 2004, the Oregon Supreme Court suspended Pendleton attorney Anthony L. Worth for 60 days for violating DR 1-102(A)(3) (conduct involving dishonesty or misrepresentation); DR 1-102(A)(4) (conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice); DR 1-103(C) (failing to cooperate and respond truthfully to disciplinary authorities); DR 6-101(B) (neglecting a legal matter) and DR 9-101(C)(4) (failing to promptly deliver client property).

Worth and his former law partner Robert Ehmann undertook to represent indigent clients on post-conviction relief and habeas corpus matters. In the months that followed, Worth failed to properly monitor his cases and failed to communicate with his clients. He also failed to respond to the court’s notices of its intent to dismiss the cases. The cases were repeatedly dismissed and reinstated when no action was taken. The court concluded that Worth’s conduct constituted neglect of client matters. It also constituted conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice, because he unnecessarily and repeatedly burdened the trial court and jeopardized his clients’ substantive interests by failing to pay attention, to communicate or to take action.

In another matter, the client delivered a newspaper article to Worth and requested that it be returned. The court found that Worth did not return the article and exhibited an inability to understand why the article was important to his client.

During the investigation of his conduct, Worth was untimely with his responses to the bar. Some of his responses were incomplete and others were inconsistent. Worth also made statements to the bar which were not true. The court found that Worth’s conduct constituted misrepresentation and failure to provide full, truthful and timely responses to the bar’s inquires.

Worth was admitted to practice in Colorado in 1965 and in Oregon in 1989. He had no prior record of discipline.


return to top
return to Table of Contents