Oregon State Bar Bulletin — JANUARY 2005

Discipline

Note: More than 12,500 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.

MARTIN M. FISHER
OSB # 96284
Salem
Public reprimand

Effective Nov. 11, 2004, the disciplinary board approved a stipulation for discipline reprimanding Salem attorney Martin M. Fisher for violating DR 6-101(B) (neglect of a legal matter).

Fisher represented an individual with a malpractice claim against a medical provider. In February 2002, Fisher timely filed a lawsuit and diligently worked on the matter until April 2003. Between April 2003 and November 2003, when the client terminated Fisher, Fisher engaged in a course of neglectful conduct, in that he: failed to conduct an adequate investigation of the client’s underlying claim or retain an expert witness; failed to respond to the client’s request for information regarding the status of the legal matter; failed to advise his client that a trial scheduled for August 2003 had been continued and failed to advise the client of his decision, sometime during the summer of 2003, that Fisher no longer had the financial resources to fund the litigation and that the client needed to locate substitute counsel.

Fisher was admitted to practice in 1996. He had no prior record of discipline.

GREG NOBLE
OSB # 93382
Corvallis
18-month suspension

On Oct. 26, 2004, the Oregon Supreme Court approved a stipulation for discipline suspending Corvallis attorney Greg Noble for 18 months for violations of DR 1-102(A)(4) (conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice), DR 1-103(C) (failure to cooperate with disciplinary authorities) and DR 6-101(B) (neglect). The suspension was effective Nov. 25, 2004.

In one matter, a client retained Noble to pursue a civil claim. The court entered judgment in favor of his client. Thereafter, Noble: failed to take action to collect the judgment; failed to communicate with or respond to his client’s inquiries and failed to actively pursue the client’s objectives. The client filed a complaint with the bar. Noble failed to respond to the inquiries of the disciplinary counsel’s office. The matter was referred to the local professional responsibility committee for investigation. Noble was personally served with a subpoena to appear and produce documents. He failed to appear, failed to produce documents and failed to communicate with the committee.

In a second matter, a client retained Noble to pursue a worker’s compensation claim. He failed to communicate with defense counsel; failed to communicate with or respond to the inquiries of the administrative law judge; failed to submit additional evidence concerning the client’s claim or submit a written closing argument and failed to communicate with and respond to his client’s inquiries concerning his claim or provide his client with copies of orders and correspondence. The administrative law judge denied the client’s claim. Noble’s conduct was brought to the attention of the disciplinary authorities. He did not respond to inquires concerning his conduct.

The third matter also concerned Noble’s handling of a workers’ compensation claim. Noble’s actions and omissions were much like those in the second client matter. Noble’s conduct was brought to the attention of the bar. He did not respond to the inquiries of the disciplinary counsel’s office.

Noble was admitted to practice in Oregon in 1993. He was admonished in 1998 for neglect. Noble has been suspended from the practice of law since April 2004.

GUY B. RENCHER
OSB #80354
Marylhurst
Form B resignation

Effective Dec. 7, 2004, the Oregon Supreme Court accepted the Form B resignation of attorney Guy B. Rencher. At the time of the resignation, a formal disciplinary proceeding was pending against Rencher for violations of the disciplinary rules involving multiple matters, including: DR 1-102(A)(2) (criminal conduct reflecting adversely on a lawyer’s honesty, trustworthiness or fitness to practice); DR 1-102(A)(3) (dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation); DR 1-103(C) (failure to cooperate with disciplinary authorities); DR 5-101(A) (lawyer self-interest conflict); DR 7-102(A)(3) (concealing or failing to reveal that which the lawyer is required by law to reveal); DR 7-102(A)(5) (knowingly making a false statement of fact); DR 7-106(A) (disregarding a standing rule or ruling of a tribunal); ORS 9.527(1) (commission of an act or course of conduct that would preclude admission) and ORS 9.527(4) (willful deceit).

Rencher was admitted to practice in Oregon in 1980. He had a prior record of discipline. Rencher represented in his resignation that all client files and records have been or will be placed in the custody of West Linn lawyer John K. Larson.

CURTIS A. SHELTON
OSB #79390
Vancouver, Wash.
Disbarred

By order dated Nov. 23, 2004, the Oregon Supreme Court disbarred Washington lawyer Curtis A. Shelton pursuant to BR 3.5 (reciprocal discipline). At the time of the court’s order, a formal disciplinary proceeding was pending against Shelton in Oregon.

On Sept. 15, 2004, the Washington Supreme Court disbarred Shelton for violations of the Washington Rules of Professional Conduct, including: RPC §8.4(b) (criminal conduct reflecting adversely on a lawyer’s honesty, trustworthiness or fitness to practice law); RPC §8.4(c) (dishonesty or misrepresentation); RPC §8.4(d) (conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice); RPC §1.7 (lawyer self interest conflicts); RPC §1.7 (current client conflicts); RPC §1.8(e) (advancing financial assistance to client); RPC §1.8(f) (accepting compensation from other than client); RPC 3.3(a) (making false statements of fact to tribunal) and other rules.

Shelton was admitted to practice in Oregon in 1979. He had no prior record of discipline. Shelton has been suspended from the practice of law in Oregon since July 2, 2004.

DANIEL T. BROWN
OSB #76009
Eugene
30-day suspension

Effective Nov. 25, 2004, a trial panel suspended Eugene attorney Daniel T. Brown for violating DR 5-105(E) (current client conflict of interest) in one matter and DR 1-102(A)(3) (engaging in a misrepresentation) and DR 5-101(A) (personal interest conflict) in a second matter.

In the first matter, Brown undertook to represent a client in a stock option agreement with two other current clients. Despite written notice that he would only be representing one party in the transaction, it was insufficient to comply with the full disclosure and consent requirements of the rules.

In the second matter, Brown was engaged in a business venture with other persons and was the lawyer for the company. The trial panel found that Brown engaged in improper self-help when, following the sale of the company’s primary asset, Brown applied the sale proceeds to repay himself for money he had earlier loaned to the company, without prompt disclosure to his business partners.

In imposing a short suspension, the trial panel noted that Brown had substantial experience in the practice of law and that his taking of funds was intentional and improper. However, these factors were mitigated by his lack of prior discipline, his cooperative attitude and character and reputation in the community.

DANIEL Q. O’DELL
OSB #89102
Portland
3-year suspension

Effective Oct. 18, 2004, a trial panel suspended Portland lawyer Daniel Q. O’Dell for three years for violating: DR 6-101(B) (neglect of a legal matter) in 13 matters; DR 9-101(C)(4) (failure to promptly return requested client property) in seven matters; DR 9-101(C)(3) (failure to account for client funds) in one matter; DR 9-101(A) (failure to deposit or maintain client funds in trust) in one matter and DR 1-103(C) (failure to cooperate in a disciplinary investigation) in 14 matters.

In all but one of the 15 separate cases, O’Dell was court-appointed to assist with a criminal appeal or post-conviction petition. In most cases, he failed to take any action after the initial filing, and, in all cases he failed to communicate with the clients, including sometimes failing to notify them of his appointment as their attorney. In seven cases, O’Dell failed to respond to clients’ requests to provide them copies of their briefs or other materials pertinent to their cases to which they were entitled. In the one privately retained matter, O’Dell failed to provide an accounting for the retainer and failed to deposit the retainer into an identifiable trust account. O’Dell failed to respond to a majority of the complaints and failed to respond to additional inquiries from the bar.

The trial panel noted that O’Dell was previously reprimanded for violations, including DR 6-101(B) (neglect of a legal matter), had previously been admonished for violating DR 9-101(C)(4) (failure to promptly return client property) and had substantial experience in the practice of law. However, the sanction was mitigated by the absence of a dishonest or selfish motive and personal or emotional difficulties O’Dell was experiencing during the periods involved — problems the panel noted may be remedied by appropriate treatment in the future.

NOELLE Y. WILSON
OSB #97107
Florence
One-year suspension

On Nov. 23, 2004, the Oregon Supreme Court approved a stipulation for discipline suspending Noelle Y. Wilson, formerly of McMinnville, for one year for violation of DR 1-103(C), DR 2-106(A), DR 2-110(A)(2), DR 2-110(A)(3), DR 2-110(B)(2), DR 6-101(B), DR 9-101(A), DR 9-101(C)(3) and DR 9-101(C)(4) in seven matters, effective immediately.

In six of the matters, Wilson failed to pursue her clients’ legal matters and failed to maintain adequate communications with her clients, in violation of DR 6-101(B) (neglect of a legal matter). In four of the matters, Wilson failed to properly handle client funds and property in violation of various provisions of DR 9-101 (failing to preserve identity of funds and property of a client). In three of the matters, Wilson, after moving out of state, failed to properly withdraw from representing clients in violation of various provisions of DR 2-110 (failure to properly withdraw from representation).

Wilson also violated DR 1-103(C) (failure to cooperate in disciplinary investigation) when she failed to respond to the bar’s inquiry in all seven matters.

DOUGLAS D. OSTERLOH
OSB #86257
Boring
Form B resignation

Effective Dec. 21, 2004, the Oregon Supreme Court accepted the form B resignation of Douglas D. Osterloh. At the time of the resignation, formal disciplinary proceedings were pending against him for violations of the disciplinary rules involving multiple client matters, including DR 1-102(A)(2) (criminal conduct reflecting on a lawyer’s honesty or fitness to practice law); DR 1-102(A)(3) (dishonesty or misrepresentation); DR 1-103(C) (failure to respond fully and truthfully to disciplinary authorities); DR 6-101(B) (neglect of a legal matter); DR 7-101(A)(2) (intentional failure to carry out a contract of employment); DR 9-101(A) (failure to deposit and maintain client funds in trust); DR 9-101(C)(4) (failure to promptly deliver client property) and other rules.

In addition to the formal complaints, the bar had filed a petition asking the court to suspend Osterloh from practicing law during the pendency of disciplinary proceedings pursuant to BR 3.1. The court granted the bar’s petition. Osterloh has been suspended from the practice of law since September 2004. Osterloh was admitted to practice in Oregon in 1980. He had a prior record of discipline.

MARY J. GRIMES
OSB #88052
Pendleton
One-year suspension; 10 months stayed with probation

On Dec. 14, 2004, the Oregon Supreme Court approved a stipulation for discipline in which Pendleton lawyer Mary J. Grimes is suspended from the practice of law for one year, with 10 months of the suspension stayed during a two-year term of probation. The 60 days of imposed suspension shall be effective Jan. 4, 2005.

Grimes was appointed to represent a number of incarcerated persons on appeal in post-conviction, habeas corpus or criminal conviction matters. The stipulation recited that, in some matters, Grimes neglected the appeals in violation of DR 6-101(B). In others, she concluded that the appeals had no merit, discussed this with her clients, but thereafter allowed the matters to be dismissed without taking steps to prevent prejudice to the clients, in violation of DR 2-110(A)(2). Finally, in two matters Grimes did not promptly comply with directives from the appellate court in violation of DR 1-102(A)(4).

The stipulation further recited that Grimes did not act with an intentional mental state, that she was experiencing personal or emotional problems at the time of the violations, and that successor counsel was able to reinstate the appeals. Upon reinstatement, Grimes will work with a supervising attorney for the duration of her probationary period.

THOMAS K. RAYHEL
OSB #98149
Salem
Form B resignation

On Dec. 14, 2004, the Oregon Supreme Court accepted the Form B resignation of Salem lawyer Thomas K. Rayhel. At the time of the resignation, disciplinary counsel was investigating Rayhel regarding allegations of trust account violations (DR 1-102(A)(3)), DR 9-101(A) and DR 9-101(C)(3)). The resignation became effective immediately.


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