|Oregon State Bar Bulletin DECEMBER 2007|
Note: More than 13,000 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.
DAWNA SCOTT ANDERSEN
Form B resignation
Effective Oct. 4, 2007, the Oregon Supreme Court accepted the Form B resignation of Dawna Scott Andersen. At the time Andersen submitted her resignation, she had been indicted for theft I, forgery I, and falsifying business records. In September 2007, Andersen pled guilty to forgery and falsifying business records.
Andersen was admitted to practice in Oregon in 1997. She had a prior record of discipline.
SAMUEL R. BLAIR
Form B resignation
Effective Oct. 4, 2007, the Oregon Supreme Court accepted the Form B resignation of Samuel R. Blair. Blair was admitted to practice in Oregon and in Hawaii. At the time of the resignation, the bar was investigating a complaint concerning his handling of a Hawaii client’s funds, alleging: failure to deliver funds to the client; failure to maintain client’s funds in a lawyer trust account; and failure to prepare and maintain required records concerning clients’ funds. The complaint and other information submitted to the bar raised allegations that implicated the Hawaii Rules of Professional Conduct: HRPC 1.3 (diligence); HRPC 1.4 (communication); HRPC 1.15(c), (d), (e), (f)(3), (4), and (g) (preserving identity of client funds); HRPC 1.16(a)(1) (terminating representation) and other rules.
Blair was admitted to practice in Oregon in 1969, although he was on inactive status here since 1998. He had no prior record of discipline in Oregon.
Form B resignation
Effective Oct. 4, 2007, the Oregon Supreme Court accepted the Form B resignation of former Eugene attorney Will Childs. At the time of his resignation, a formal proceeding was pending against Childs, alleging violations of: RPC 5.5(a) (unlawful practice of law); RPC 8.1(a)(1) (knowingly making a false statement of material fact in connection with a disciplinary matter); RPC 8.1(a)(2) (knowingly failing to respond to a disciplinary authority) and RPC 8.4(a)(3) (conduct involving dishonesty or misrepresentation).
Childs was suspended at the time of his resignation. His resignation recites that all client files and records in his possession have been or will be returned to the clients, with any remaining files to be placed in the custody of Eugene attorney George Derr.
ANDREW P. COLVIN
OSB # 011787
Effective Oct. 1, 2007, Andrew Colvin, formerly of Gresham, was suspended from the practice of law for 120 days pursuant to a stipulation for discipline approved by the disciplinary board.
After the bar received notice of an overdraft on Colvin’s trust account, it was determined that Colvin: did not maintain adequate records of client deposits or trust account disbursements; did not maintain adequate billing records from which to determine accurately the amount of earned fees to be withdrawn from trust; and did not reconcile his trust account records with monthly bank statements, such that depositing and disbursement errors were not discovered over time. As a result of these accounting deficiencies, Colvin periodically disbursed more from this trust account on behalf of clients than those clients had on deposit with Colvin, in violation of RPC 1.15-1(a) and (c). At times when Colvin was in doubt whether all client funds that should have been on deposit in trust were in fact there, he kept earned fees in the account to ensure against any shortfall caused by accounting errors. (RPC 1.15-1(b))
Colvin also failed to deposit some client retainers into his trust account because he believed he had, but later could not locate, written fee agreements with the clients providing that the retainers were nonrefundable and earned on receipt. RPC 1.15-1(a) and (c). During one period when he had no other bank account available to him, Colvin deposited his own funds into trust and paid personal expenses from that account. RPC 1.15-1(b). Finally, Colvin failed to inform the bar when his bank dishonored certain checks or other items for insufficient funds. RPC 1.15-2(l).
The stipulation recites that Colvin did not act with intent to disburse more from trust than was warranted. However, he knew his record-keeping was poor and became increasingly uncertain over time whether all client funds that should have been in trust were in fact there. He intended to correct the accounting deficiencies, but never did, continuing to take in and disburse client funds without first taking corrective action on the account. No clients were actually injured; all client funds were eventually accounted for. Colvin had no prior disciplinary history.
Effective Nov. 1, 2007, the disciplinary board approved a stipulation for discipline suspending Portland attorney Lawrence Cullen for six months for violations of: DR 6-101(B) and RPC 1.3 (neglect of a legal matter); RPC 1.4(a) (failure to keep a client reasonably informed or promptly comply with reasonable requests for information) and RPC 1.15-1(d) (failure to promptly deliver client property).
Cullen’s violations arose in connection with his representation of four clients in unrelated personal injury matters — three of which were dismissed in whole or part as a result of Cullen’s neglect and failures to communicate.
The stipulation recited several factors in aggravation, including prior discipline, a pattern of misconduct and substantial experience in the practice of law. However, in mitigation, Cullen did not act with a dishonest or selfish motive, was suffering from personal or emotional problems during a portion of the relevant time period, made efforts to rectify the consequences of some of his misconduct and expressed remorse.
THOMAS J. GREIF
On Sept. 20, 2007, the disciplinary board approved a stipulation for discipline reprimanding Portland lawyer Thomas J. Greif for violating DR 5-105(E) (current client conflict of interest).
One of Greif’s current clients telephoned Greif, disclosed that he was divorcing his wife and asked Greif to meet with both of them later in the day for the purpose of preparing a property settlement agreement. Greif advised his client that he did not want to get involved in the matter but the client persisted. Later that day Greif met with the client and his wife regarding the dissolution of their marriage. The client had a reasonable expectation that Greif was representing him at the meeting.
During the same meeting, Greif met separately with the client’s wife and provided her with legal advice regarding, among other things, the rights, duties and obligations of both parties in a dissolution of marriage proceeding. Greif, on the wife’s behalf and at her request, made a settlement proposal to the client in which the wife would receive more than she would have received under a proposed settlement she and the client had purportedly come to before they met with Greif. The wife had a reasonable expectation that Greif was representing her at the meeting.
By the end of the meeting, client and his wife came to an agreement. Within a few days Greif prepared a marital settlement agreement in which he disclaimed that he was representing either client or wife, stated that he had fully disclosed the inherent conflict of interest, stated that they had had ample opportunity to consult with independent legal counsel before signing the agreement, and had them acknowledge and confirm that their respective legal interests had been fully and adequately represented and protected in the agreement. Client and his wife signed the agreement prepared by Greif. Thereafter, another attorney filed a petition for dissolution of marriage on behalf of client. Wife represented herself in that proceeding.
At the initial meeting, Greif believed he was acting as a mediator or scrivener. However, in part because of urgency on the part of his client, Greif failed to clearly and adequately inform client and his wife about his limited role in bringing about a settlement. As such, Greif did not satisfy the requirements of DR 5-106(A)(2) that permit a lawyer to act as a mediator under certain circumstances.
STEVEN D. MARSH
OSB # 010749
On Sept. 13, 2007, the disciplinary board approved a stipulation for discipline reprimanding Steven D. Marsh for violations of DR 9-101(C)(3) of the Code of Professional Responsibility and RPC 1.15-1(a) of the Rules of Professional Conduct.
Clients paid a retainer to Marsh to represent their interests in a civil lawsuit. Marsh deposited the retainer in his lawyer trust account, performed some legal services for the clients and withdrew the funds from the trust account as he determined they were earned.
A few months after Marsh had been retained, he withdrew from the representation due to illness. The clients requested that Marsh account for the funds paid. Marsh failed to account for the retainer. He also failed to prepare and maintain complete records concerning his receipt, deposit, withdrawal and disbursement of the clients’ funds.
Marsh was admitted to practice in Oregon in 2001. He had a prior record of discipline, which resulted in a suspension in September 2005.
SHANE A. REED
OSB # 961597
On Sept. 19, 2007, the disciplinary board approved a stipulation for discipline reprimanding Jacksonville lawyer Shane A. Reed for violations of RPC 8.4(a)(3) and RPC 7.5(c)(1).
Reed was retained to represent a client concerning a personal injury claim. The parties agreed to settle the case. The terms of settlement required Reed’s client to sign a release of all claims. Pursuant to a power of attorney contained in a fee agreement, Reed signed his client’s name to a release of all claims and delivered it to opposing counsel. The signature appearing on the release purported to be that of Reed’s client. Reed did not disclose to opposing counsel either on the release or otherwise that Reed’s client did not sign the release or that Reed had signed the client’s name as the client’s attorney. As a result, the conduct constituted a misrepresentation in violation of RPC 8.4(a)(3).
Also, Reed conducted his law practice with the names "Law Offices of Shane Reed & Associates," "Law Offices of Reed & Associates" and similar names. He used the names on his firm letterhead and other documents and advertised his firm name and services in writing using the names. However, Reed was the only lawyer in his firm and therefore was practicing law under a name that was misleading as to the identity of the lawyer or lawyers in the firm in violation of RPC 7.5(c)(1).
Reed was admitted to practice in Oregon in 1996. He did not have a prior record of formal discipline.
BRIAN J. SUNDERLAND
On Oct. 4, 2007, the Oregon Supreme Court approved a stipulation for discipline suspending Clackamas attorney Brian J. Sunderland’s license to practice law for one year. The suspension was effective Oct. 7, 2007.
Sunderland stipulated that he engaged in conduct involving: dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation (DR 1-102(A)(3)); conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice (DR 1-l02(A)(4)); assisting a client in fraudulent conduct (DR 7-l02(A)(7)); disregarding a standing rule or order of the court (DR 7-106(A)) and ex parte communication with the court (DR 7-110(B)). The misconduct related to Sunderland’s representation of a client in a dissolution-of-marriage matter and his actions in that matter to collect certain property allegedly belonging to the client’s bankruptcy estate, which the client had not disclosed to the bankruptcy court or trustee.
In a second matter, Sunderland represented a father concerning postdissolution child custody and visitation issues. The court directed that the lawyers could arrange for the parents of a child to listen to a recording of the child’s testimony, but they were not to give a copy of the recording to the parents. Sunderland failed to adequately communicate and take reasonable steps to ensure that his associate and other members of his office were informed of the court’s directive, and his associate gave a copy of the recording to the client. Sunderland admitted that his conduct violated RPC 8.4(a)(4), conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice.
Sunderland also admitted that he violated RPC 5.1(a) and (b), on vicarious responsibility for another lawyer’s conduct, and RPC 8.4(a)(4) concerning his representation of clients in a bankruptcy matter in which the clients had failed to disclose anticipated tax refunds in their petition. Sunderland told his associate to tell the clients if they did not appear for the 341(a) meeting of creditors, the bankruptcy case would be dismissed and they could use the tax refunds, and that the clients could later refile the bankruptcy petition. Sunderland did not advise the clients or tell his associate to advise the clients to disclose and deliver the tax refunds to the bankruptcy trustee or the court, or to hold and not to disburse the tax refunds. The bankruptcy trustee independently discovered the refunds and demanded that they be turned over.
Finally, Sunderland admitted that he failed to maintain certain clients’ funds in trust and failed to maintain complete and accurate records of his receipt, deposit and disbursement of their funds in violations of DR 9-101(A) and DR 9-101 (C)(3) and RPC 1.15-1(a) and RPC 1.15-1(c).
Sunderland was admitted to practice in Oregon in 1992. He had a prior record of discipline.