Note: Nearly 12,600 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.
MICHAEL K. SHUFELDT
Form B resignation
Effective Oct. 26, 2004, the Oregon Supreme Court accepted the Form B resignation of Michael K. Shufeldt. At the time of the resignation, the disciplinary counsel’s office was investigating allegations that Shufeldt may have: committed criminal acts that reflect adversely upon his honesty, trustworthiness or fitness to practice law (DR 1-102(A)(2)); engaged in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation (DR 1-102(A)(3)) and failed to deposit client funds into a trust account (DR 9-101(A)).
Shufeldt was employed by a Portland law office. In submitting his resignation, Shufeldt acknowledged that he did not wish to contest allegations that: he instructed office clients to mail their fee payments to a Post Office box not maintained by his employer, and collected checks made payable to himself and to his employer; he endorsed checks made payable to his employer "for deposit only" and deposited them into his own checking account without informing his employer; he wrote at least 16 checks on his employer’s office account by signing his employer’s name to them, allegedly without his employer’s knowledge or authorization; he deposited at least two client retainers into his own checking account and that, when questioned about one of these payments, Shufeldt advised his employer that he had given it to office staff for handling.
Finally, although Shufeldt submitted a general denial in response to the bar’s inquiries, he did not provide a substantive response and did not assert any applicable right or privilege. He acknowledged that this failure to respond may raise a violation of DR 1-103(C).
Shufeldt’s resignation recites that all of his client files have been placed in the custody of Portland attorney William T. Powers.
DAVID B. PETERS
On Oct. 26, 2004, the disciplinary board approved a stipulation for discipline suspending Portland lawyer David B. Peters for 180 days for violation of DR 1-102(A)(3) and DR 5-110(A), effective Dec. 25, 2004.
Peters had undertaken to represent a client in connection with an alleged probation violation. At a time when Peters was representing the client he had sexual relations with her.
After Peters’s representation of the client concluded, the client absconded from a work release program. Thereafter, the police interviewed Peters regarding his former client’s whereabouts. During that interview Peters falsely denied that he had a past personal relationship with his former client. Peters corrected his false statement the following day.
The stipulation requires Peters to apply for reinstatement under BR 8.1.
MATTHEW W. DERBY
Pursuant to a stipulation for discipline approved by the disciplinary board on Oct. 27, 2004, Roseburg lawyer Matthew W. Derby was suspended from the practice of law for 60 days, effective Nov. 15, 2004, for violation of DR 6-101(B) (neglect of legal matters); DR 9-101(A) (trust account violations); DR 9-101(C)(3) (failure to render appropriate accounts of client funds) and DR 1-103(C) (failure to cooperate with the bar).
In September 2002, Derby undertook to represent a client and, pursuant to a written fee agreement, accepted a retainer of $400. Derby did not deposit the retainer in a lawyer trust account, and during the course of his employment, did not render appropriate accounts to the client regarding her retainer.
For a period of approximately two and a half months, Derby did not take any action on the client matter, failed to communicate with his client regarding the status of her matter and failed to respond to the client’s attempts to communicate with him. When the client complained to the bar, Derby failed to respond to disciplinary counsel’s requests for information regarding his representation of the client.
In arriving at a sanction, the stipulation recites Derby’s prior disciplinary offenses (a March 2002 public reprimand) and his client’s vulnerability as a person who did not read or speak English well. In mitigation, the stipulation recited that Derby did not act with a dishonest or selfish motive and that he was affected by a mental disability at the time of the conduct.