|Oregon State Bar Bulletin — JULY 2009|
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.
MICHAEL J. BIRD
Form B resignation
On June 17, 2009, the Oregon Supreme Court accepted the Form B resignation of Grants Pass attorney Michael J. Bird, effective immediately.
At the time of the resignation, the bar was investigating allegations that Bird had committed trust account improprieties over an extended period of time, had arranged for a loan or loans from a client to one of Bird’s business associates without the client’s informed consent and had obtained a loan or loans from a client with informed consent. These allegations implicated RPC 1.7(a)(2) (self-interest conflict), 1.8(a) (business transaction with client), 1.15-1(a) and 1.15-1(c) (trust account violations) and 8.4(a)(3) (dishonest conduct).
The resignation specified that Bird’s client files and records were in the custody of attorney Dan Hughes of Grants Pass.
CHARLES N. ISAAK
Effective June 2, 2009, a trial panel suspended Beaverton lawyer Charles N. Isaak for six months for violating DR 2-106(A) and RPC 1.5(a) (charging a clearly excessive fee) and RPC 1.7(a)(2) (current client conflict of interest).
In 2001, Isaak undertook to represent a client in Oregon regarding her share of a Florida estate. The total estate was valued at less than $100,000, and the client was not the sole heir. There was no written fee agreement between Isaak and the client regarding his fees. Three years later Isaak submitted a bill of $42,600 for attorney fees. The client died later that year. Isaak filed a claim against her estate for $31,736 in attorney fees. The probate court awarded Isaak $1,000 for his work in the Florida estate.
Isaak undertook to represent the same client in connection with her efforts to obtain Medicaid benefits and return to her home after she had fallen and was residing in a rehabilitation facility. The client agreed to pay Isaak $200 per hour for legal work he performed on her behalf. Less than six months later, Isaak asserted that he was owed $100,000 in attorney fees. Several days later, the client signed a statement prepared by Isaak in which the client agreed to pay Issak $138,486.25. Many of the services provided by Isaak were not for legal work, but were personal care services associated with feeding the client, sitting at her bedside, running errands for her and attending to her finances. The probate court awarded Isaak $1,000 for the legal work he performed and $6,850 for the other services he performed.
In connection with this second matter, the state of Oregon filed a petition to appoint a conservator over the client. In the petition and attached documents it was alleged that the client was a suspected victim of financial abuse by Isaak. Isaak undertook to represent the client in opposing the conservatorship. He failed to obtain her informed consent, confirmed in writing, before undertaking the representation.
The trial panel dismissed a second conflict of interest charge in which it was alleged that Isaak failed to obtain the client’s informed consent, confirmed in writing, when he had her sign a trust deed securing his past and future fees. The trial panel found that because key events occurred before RPC 1.7(a)(2) was effective, the bar had not proven a violation of that rule.
RICHARD T. PERRY
Effective June 8, 2009, the disciplinary board approved a stipulation for discipline suspending for six months Hillsboro attorney Richard T. Perry for violations of RPC 1.15-1(d) (failure to promptly deliver client property) and RPC 1.16(d) (failure to take reasonably practicable steps to protect client upon termination of employment).
Perry represented a client in entering into a settlement agreement that required the client to undertake certain actions. The client was later sued for an alleged breach of the agreement and Perry undertook to defend the client in that suit. Perry became ill and he reported to the client that he could not continue the representation. Although he assisted the client to find new counsel, Perry failed to file a notice of withdrawal or forward the client’s file to the new attorney, despite repeated requests that he do so. The sanction was reached, in part, based on Perry’s prior disciplinary history.
BRIAN J. SUNDERLAND
Effective July 8, 2009, Brian J. Sunderland of Clackamas was suspended from the practice of law for three years pursuant to a stipulation for discipline approved by the Supreme Court.
In one client matter, Sunderland violated numerous disciplinary rules in connection with conservatorship and probate proceedings. Among other things, Sunderland failed to file various required documents with the court, made assertions of fact when he did not have sufficient information to do so, engaged in a conflict of interest, collected attorney fees without court approval and failed to provide an accounting of estate funds. Rules cited in the stipulation included RPC 1.1 (competent representation), RPC 1.5(a) (collecting an illegal fee), RPC 1.7(a) (conflict of interest), RPC 1.15-1(a) & (d) (inadequate records and accountings), RPC 8.4(a)(3) (misrepresentation) and RPC 8.4(a)(4) (conduct prejudicial to administration of justice).
In another client matter, also involving a probate, Sunderland stipulated to violations of RPC 1.3 (neglect of a legal matter), RPC 1.4(a) (inadequate communication with a client), RPC 1.5(a) (collecting an excessive fee) and RPC 1.16(d) (improper withdrawal).
Sunderland’s sanction was aggravated by the injury to the clients and his prior disciplinary history, and mitigated by his cooperation in the bar proceeding and reimbursement to the clients of certain sums.
WESTLY A. WARNER
Form B resignation
On June 4, 2009, the Oregon Supreme Court accepted the Form B resignation of Salem attorney, Westly A. Warner, effective immediately.
At the time of his resignation, a formal proceeding was pending against Warner, alleging violations of RPC 1.4(a) (failure to keep a client reasonably informed), RPC 1.4(b) (failure to explain a matter to the extent reasonably necessary to permit the client to make informed decisions), RPC 1.7(a)(2) (conflict of interest), RPC 8.4(a)(2) (criminal conduct reflecting adversely on fitness to practice law), RPC 8.4(a)(3) (misrepresentation) and ORS 9.527(2) (conviction of a felony). The bar was also investigating two additional matters in which clients alleged conduct that, if proven, would violate RPC 1.3 (neglect of a legal matter), RPC 1.5(a) (excessive fees), RPC 1.4(a) (failure to keep a client reasonably informed), RPC 1.16(d) (failure to take reasonable steps to protect the client upon termination of employment), RPC 3.3(a)(1) (false statement to a tribunal) and RPC 8.4(a)(3) (misrepresentation).
The court had suspended Warner from active bar membership in May 2008 after he was convicted of felony charges in Marion County. Warner remained suspended at the time of his resignation. The resignation states that Warner’s client files and client records have been placed in the custody of the Professional Liability Fund.
The following have applied for admission under the reciprocity, house counsel or law teacher rules. The Board of Bar Examiners requests that members examine this list and bring to the board’s attention in a signed letter any information that might influence the board in considering the moral character of any applicant for admission. Send correspondence to Admissions Director, Oregon State Board of Bar Examiners, P.O. Box 231935, Tigard, OR 97281.
Reciprocity: Timothy Edward Allen, Robert Michael Bartlett, Mark Edward Beatty, Frederick Benjamin Burnside, Alfred Edward Donohue, Glenn S Draper, Robert Lee Drozda, Duncan Kiefer Fobes, Holly Anne Harris, Diana Suzanne Hill, Brian Frances Ladenburg, Jeffrey D Laveson, Jennifer Diana Loynd, Penelope Lorna Parker, Boris Petrenko, Vanessa Soriano Power and Susan Wildwood.
House Counsel: John Wilson Attey, David Andrew Herman, Marisa Diane McGilliard and Mohan Kumar Naidu.
Law Teacher: Katherine Mary Hessler.
Notice of Reinstatement Application
The following attorneys have filed an application for reinstatement as an active member of the Oregon State Bar pursuant to Rule of Procedure (BR) 8.1:
Kathleen P. Eymann, OSB #792202, Bandon, transferred to inactive status in 1998 to pursue a career as a lobbyist and executive coach. She also served as a project manager with Portland Community College Foundation and Portland State University, Oregon Solutions. Eymann was temporarily reinstated by the Board of Governors in June, and at present she is working as general counsel for Climate Clean of Portland.
Nancy J. Meserow, OSB #820895, inactive in Oregon since 2000, recently returned to Oregon from Illinois, where she was admitted to practice law in 2000. She worked in private practice in the Chicago area from 2000 to 2009. Meserow was temporarily reinstated by the Board of Governors in July and is currently working as an associate for the Tigard Law Office of David B. Lowry.
Richard I. Rappaport, OSB #773118, transferred to inactive status in 2001 and was subsequently suspended in 2002 for nonpayment of membership fees. Rappaport has been a self-employed commercial photographer since 1984. He has no specific plans following reinstatement but will seek a position in the area of environmental law.
David Van’T Hof, OSB #961859, inactive bar member since 2003, Portland, has been employed as a policy adviser for Gov. Kulongoski. He recently left that position, and following his reinstatement he will become a partner with the Portland firm of Lane Powell.
The Rules of Procedure require the Board of Governors to conduct an investigation of BR 8.1 reinstatement applications to determine whether applicants possess the good moral character and general fitness to practice law and whether the resumption of the practice of law in this state by the applicants will not be detrimental to the administration of justice or the public interest. Any person with information relevant to these applications is asked to contact promptly the OSB Regulatory Services Division, P.O. Box 231935, Tigard, OR 97281; phone: (503) 620-0222, or toll-free in Oregon, (800) 452-8260), ext. 343.