Oregon State Bar Bulletin — FEBRUARY/MARCH 2006

Discipline

Note: More than 12,750 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.

DANIEL W. DICKERSON
OSB #98049
Portland
Public reprimand
On Dec. 11, 2005, the disciplinary board approved a stipulation for discipline reprimanding attorney Daniel W. Dickerson for violations of DR 5-101(A) (lawyer self-interest conflict), DR 5-104(A) (business relations with a client) and DR 5-105(E) (current client conflict).

Dickerson and a business partner formed two business entities. Thereafter, Dickerson represented himself, his partner and the business entities in the purchase of a restaurant and lease of the restaurant premises. While negotiating the purchase and lease, Dickerson also undertook to represent the restaurant owner in terminating a sublease of a portion of the restaurant premises.

Dickerson’s simultaneous representation of the purchasing entities and the restaurant owner, along with his own financial interest in the transaction, constituted an improper self-interest conflict and business transaction with a client and a multiple client conflict of interest. To the extent that full disclosure and consent could have cured any conflict, it did not occur.

Dickerson was admitted to practice in 1998 and had no prior record of discipline.

DANIEL A. DOYLE
OSB #92284
Salem
Form B resignation
On Jan. 10, 2006, the Oregon Supreme Court accepted the Form B resignation of former Salem lawyer Daniel A. Doyle. At the time of the resignation, a formal disciplinary proceeding was authorized against Doyle based on his criminal conviction in October 2005 for making false statements on campaign expenditure reports (DR 1-102(A)(2); DR 1-102(A)(3); ORS 9.527(2)), and based on allegations from a number of former clients that Doyle failed to return client property or account for client funds (DR 1-102(A)(3); DR 9-101(A); DR 9-101(C)(3); DR 9-101(C)(4), among others).

Doyle has been suspended from active bar membership since July 2005. Doyle’s resignation recited that all client files are in the possession of Salem lawyer Vance Day.

JAMES EDUARD WHITE
OSB #91121
McMinnville
6-month suspension
Pursuant to a stipulation for discipline approved by the disciplinary board on Nov. 23, 2005, McMinnville lawyer James Eduard White was suspended for six months, effective Dec. 10, 2005, for violation of DR 3-101(A) (aiding a non-lawyer in the unlawful practice of law); DR 3-102(A) (sharing legal fees with a non-lawyer) and DR 6-101(A) (lack of competence).

The charges arose out of White’s relationship with a non-lawyer paralegal, Florentino Aleman, with whom he shared office space. Beginning in about December 2000, White began to incorporate immigration law into his practice. He employed Aleman as an independent contractor to provide translation services, interview clients, select and prepare INS forms for clients using a facsimile of White’s signature, draft and send correspondence to third persons about the clients’ cases using the signature facsimile, meet with clients while their applications were pending before the INS, provide services and documents necessary to support clients’ applications to the INS and answer clients’ questions about their INS applications. White employed Aleman to render these services after he had represented Aleman in a proceeding brought by the Oregon Dept. of Justice that resulted in an order barring Aleman from engaging in the unlawful practice of law. The order prohibited Aleman from: possessing immigration law materials, including immigration forms and INS publications; representing to clients that he had any expertise or special knowledge about immigration law and using the Internet to provide information or documents to the clients relating to immigration matters.

White did not adequately supervise Aleman’s activities, and in 2003 without White’s knowledge, Aleman rendered legal advice to and selected and completed INS forms for a client. Following Aleman’s advice, the client, who was an illegal immigrant to the United States, returned to Mexico where she was denied eligibility to apply for an immigrant visa and barred from the U.S. for 10 years.

In a second client matter, Aleman rendered legal services to a client who had also illegally entered the United States. Aleman advised the client what forms to file to adjust her immigration status. Thereafter, White did not supervise Aleman’s activities and failed to assure that the client’s INS application was properly completed, which resulted in removal proceedings before the U.S. Immigration Court. White then failed to submit the proper documents to the Immigration Court or prepare himself or his client for three Immigration Court hearings. As a result, the client was required to agree to leave the U.S. in order to avoid arrest and deportation.

In arriving at a sanction, the disciplinary board considered: that serious harm had resulted to White’s clients; that he had acted with a selfish motive and engaged in a pattern of misconduct; that his clients were vulnerable and that he had substantial experience in the practice of law. In mitigation, the disciplinary board considered that White made full and free disclosure to disciplinary counsel’s office and demonstrated a cooperative attitude toward the proceedings.

BETTY JO WHITE
OSB #73324
Silverton
Form B resignation
On Dec. 20, 2005, the Oregon Supreme Court accepted the Form B resignation of Silverton lawyer Betty Jo White.

At the time White submitted her resignation, there were four bar complaints pending against her. In one, White represented the personal representative of an estate, and in that capacity was entrusted with over $300,000.00 in estate funds. In March 2005, after the probate court ordered White to make a partial distribution of estate assets, White admitted that she had converted a large portion of the money with which she had been entrusted. A later audit suggested that as much as $200,000.00 was missing.

In another matter, White was alleged to have neglected an estate of which she was the personal representative. The decedent had died in July 2001, yet the estate remained open in 2005. The complainant also questioned whether White had handled estate assets appropriately.

A third complaint was filed after it appeared to a probate judge that White had accepted attorneys fees from conservatorship funds without court approval, in violation of ORS 125.095(3). Another complaint was filed in that same conservatorship matter, alleging that White had neglected the conservatorship and had failed adequately to account for conservatorship assets.

By filing a Form B resignation, White chose not to contest or defend these complaints, which raised ethics issues under DR 1-102(A)(3), DR 6-101(B) and DR 7-106(A).

All of White’s files and client records have been placed into the custody of attorney Arthur B. Cummins, Jr., OSB No. 66032.

White was admitted to practice in Oregon in 1973. She had a prior record of discipline.

B. LEE WILSON
OSB #98123
Albany
60-day suspension
Effective Dec. 18, 2005, the disciplinary board approved a stipulation for discipline suspending Albany lawyer B. Lee Wilson for 60 days for violating DR 2-106(A) (collect an illegal fee), DR 3-101(B) (unlawful practice of law), DR 6-101(A) (failure to provide competent representation) and DR 6-101(B) (neglect of a legal matter).

Wilson was retained by a client to file a petition to probate the estate of the client’s mother. In connection with her representation of the client Wilson failed to comply with a number of statutory requirements. Wilson also allowed her client to make partial distributions of estate property without obtaining the court’s approval. On at least one occasion Wilson accepted funds from her client in payment of attorney fees without obtaining court approval to do so.

Effective July 2, 2004, Wilson was suspended from the practice of law for failing to pay bar membership fees. After that date Wilson continued as attorney of record for the client and filed a motion on the client’s behalf.

TODD A. PETERSON
OSB #91394
Portland
30-day suspension
Pursuant to a stipulation for discipline approved by the disciplinary board on December 11, 2005, Portland lawyer Todd A. Peterson was suspended from the practice of law for a period of 30 days, effective Feb. 2, 2006, for violation of RPC 4.2 (communication with a person represented by counsel).

The charge arose out of Peterson’s attempt to protect and collect a contingent fee in a personal injury matter after a client had terminated his employment. The client terminated Peterson’s employment because he was dissatisfied with the settlement offer Peterson had negotiated with the insurer. The client then retained new counsel in the personal injury matter and to assist him in contesting the amount of Peterson’s claimed fee and his claimed right to a lien against any settlement proceeds.

Thereafter, despite having previously communicated with the client’s new counsel regarding both the fee dispute and the personal injury matter, Peterson wrote directly to the client. In the letter, Peterson expressed doubt that the client’s new counsel would represent the client in the personal injury matter because the settlement amount that Peterson had previously negotiated was not likely to increase. Peterson also advised the client that his personal injury claim was in jeopardy because the statute of limitations would expire soon.

Peterson enclosed with the letter a settlement statement and an authorization to settle the client’s case for the amount Peterson had previously negotiated. Peterson proposed that the client sign the settlement statement and authorization to conclude the personal injury matter even though Peterson acknowledged the client was represented by new counsel. Had the client signed the documents, they would have authorized the insurer to pay the settlement proceeds directly to Peterson and would have authorized Peterson to pay himself the fee he claimed he was owed. The client’s new counsel then contacted the bar.

In arriving at a sanction, the stipulation recited that Peterson acted with a selfish motive and had substantial experience in the practice of law, but had no prior disciplinary record.

GRAEME H. STRICKLAND, JR.
OSB #73296
Lake Oswego
1-year suspension
On Dec. 15, 2005, the Oregon Supreme Court issued an opinion suspending Lake Oswego lawyer, Graeme H. Strickland, Jr. for one year, effective Feb. 13, 2006, for violation of DR 1-102(A)(2) (criminal conduct reflecting adversely on honesty, trustworthiness or fitness to practice law) and DR 1-102(A)(3) (conduct involving dishonesty).

In 2002, Strickland learned that the City of Lake Oswego was planning to build a reservoir across the street from the house where he lives with his mother. On the morning of March 31, 2003, in an attempt to advance a lawsuit he intended to file on behalf of his mother for damages resulting from the reservoir construction, Strickland drove several blocks from his home to observe and photograph construction activities. He parked his automobile in the middle of an intersection. When asked by a construction worker to move it, Strickland left his vehicle in the intersection, walked back to his home and called 911. Strickland then told the 911 dispatcher that he was surrounded by construction vehicles and was being threatened by the construction workers. After he made the call to 911, Strickland returned to the intersection, and when a construction worker walked near him, he fell to the ground, claiming that the worker had assaulted him.

Law enforcement officers and fire department paramedics arrived at the intersection where Strickland lay on the ground. Strickland misrepresented to the police and paramedics that he had been assaulted by a construction worker and had injured his back. He was transported to the hospital where physicians found no evidence of physical injury.

Strickland was convicted by municipal court and circuit court juries of three misdemeanors: violation of ORS 165.570 (improper use of the emergency reporting system); ORS 162.375 (initiating a false report) and ORS 166.025 (disorderly conduct).

In arriving at a sanction, the supreme court found that Strickland had acted with the conscious objective or purpose to lie in order to advance a lawsuit for which he was preparing, had injured the City of Lake Oswego by inducing it to expend its resources needlessly and potentially injured the construction worker whom he had falsely accused of assault. The court also noted that Strickland had acted with a dishonest or selfish motive, failed to acknowledge the wrongful nature of his conduct and committed multiple ethics violations. In mitigation, the court found that Strickland had no prior disciplinary record, made full and free disclosure of his criminal convictions to the disciplinary board and had paid a fine and served a brief period of incarceration for his misconduct.

DONALD BRUCE KRONENBERG
OSB #86129
Seattle, Wash.
Reciprocal discipline
Effective Jan. 24, 2006, the Oregon Supreme Court imposed reciprocal discipline and disbarred Seattle attorney Donald Bruce Kronenberg. Kronenberg was earlier disbarred in Washington in August 2005.

Kronenberg represented a criminal defendant charged with three counts of child rape. The victim was the state’s principal witness and had been subpoenaed for trial. Shortly before trial, Kronenberg met with the victim and offered him $6,000.00 and a one-way plane ticket to Oklahoma in exchange for not appearing in court. The victim was initially receptive to Kronenberg’s proposal and Kronenberg memorialized their agreement in a document. Thereafter, Kronenberg received $3,000.00 from his client. He used part of it to purchase the plane ticket. He then met with the victim and gave him the plane ticket and the balance of the $3,000.00. Kronenberg also offered to drive the victim to the airport. The victim refused the ride and subsequently changed his mind.

Before Kronenberg learned that the victim had changed his mind, the court, during a pretrial hearing, ordered Kronenberg to disclose any information he possessed regarding the victim’s location. Kronenberg left the hearing without disclosing the agreement, payment and airplane ticket and then instructed his secretary not to document any information she learned about the victim’s whereabouts. Kronenberg later met with prosecutors and told them they needed to dismiss the case as the state did not have a victim. During this meeting, Kronenberg failed to disclose his dealings with the victim.

Kronenberg’s conduct violated Washington RPC 8.4(a), (b), (c) and (d). Applicable Oregon rules are RPC 8.4(a)(1), (2), (3) and (4).

Kronenberg was admitted to practice in Oregon in 1986. He was suspended for 6 months in 2001, by the Oregon Supreme Court, also under the reciprocal discipline rule, after discipline imposed in Washington.

KURT CARSTENS
OSB #72048
Newport
30-day suspension
On Feb. 2, 2006, the disciplinary board approved a stipulation for discipline suspending Kurt Carstens from the practice of law for 30 days for violation of DR 1-102(A)(4) (conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice). The suspension was effective on Feb. 5, 2006.

A client retained Carstens and his law firm concerning a dispute related to an agreement to purchase a business. Carstens’ firm filed a lawsuit for their client. During the representation, Carstens signed an affidavit that was filed with the court in which he represented that the defendants were evading service of the summons and complaint when they were not. Carstens was negligent in failing to make sufficient inquiry to assure that his statements were accurate and failing to correctly attribute the statements he made in the affidavit.

Carstens was admitted to practice in Oregon 1972. He had a prior record of discipline.

STEVEN A. CHASE
OSB #89212
Grapevine, Texas
30-day suspension
Effective Nov. 26, 2005, the Oregon Supreme Court suspended former Washington County attorney, Steven A. Chase, for 30 days. The court found that Chase knowingly violated DR 7-106(A) (disregard a standing rule or ruling of a tribunal) when he was found in contempt for failing to comply with his child support obligations and when he subsequently failed to comply with the terms of his contempt probation. By the time of the disciplinary hearing, Chase was more than $33,000 in arrears.

The court held that Chase caused actual injury to the legal system by consuming scarce court resources and actual injury to his family by depriving his children of support. The opinion sited that Chase engaged in a pattern of misconduct and had substantial experience in the practice of law. The court found a number of factors in mitigation, including absence of prior discipline, personal or emotional problems, the imposition of other penalties or sanctions and remorse. 


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