|Oregon State Bar Bulletin AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2011|
Note: More than 14,000 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.
DAVID E. GROOM
Effective June 30, 2011, the Oregon Supreme Court suspended Portland lawyer David E. Groom for 180 days for violations of RPC 1.4(a) (failure to keep a client reasonably informed), RPC 1.15-1(a) (failure to safeguard client property) and RPC 1.15-1(d) (failure to promptly deliver property to which client or third person was entitled).
Groom’s violations occurred in four different matters involving clients pursuing remedies following their conviction and incarceration in criminal matters. In each case, Groom failed to keep his client reasonably informed about the status of the legal matter and to promptly respond to the client’s reasonable requests for information. In one matter, Groom also failed to promptly return documents that a client’s spouse had provided. In another, Groom also failed to appropriately safeguard and lost the client’s file.
Groom was admitted to practice in Oregon in 1978. He was suspended on two prior occasions, in 2006 and 2008, for misconduct in multiple client matters.
On June 30, 2011, the Oregon Supreme Court dismissed a complaint alleging that a lawyer violated RPC 8.4(a)(4) (conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice) of the Oregon Rules of Professional Conduct.
The lawyer represented a youth in a juvenile delinquency proceeding. A detention hearing was held, which the court allowed members of the media to attend, but prohibited them from recording the proceeding. At the hearing, witnesses provided testimony which the lawyer believed was beneficial to his client. Pursuant to statute, the lawyer obtained from the court a copy of the audio disk from the hearing and had a portion of it transcribed by a court reporter. Thereafter, without the court’s consent, the lawyer released the partial transcript to members of the media.
The court, without deciding whether the lawyer violated statutes prohibiting anyone from disclosing information appearing in the record of a juvenile delinquency case without the court’s consent, dismissed the disciplinary case because the bar did not present clear and convincing evidence that the lawyer’s disclosure harmed or had the potential to harm the procedural functioning of the judicial system.
JAMES C. JAGGER
Effective Aug. 1, 2011, Eugene lawyer James C. Jagger was suspended for six months for violating: DR 9-101(A) (failure to maintain client funds in trust — pre-2005); RPC 1.15-1(c) (failure to maintain client funds in trust — post-2005); RPC 1.15-1(d) (duty to return client property promptly upon request and render an accounting); RPC 1.5(a) (clearly excessive fee); RPC 1.16(d) (duty, upon termination of representation, to refund any fee or expense that has not been earned or incurred); and RPC 8.1(a)(2) (failure to respond to inquiry from disciplinary authority), in connection with complaints filed by two former clients.
With respect to the first client, Jagger undertook to handle two criminal matters. The client paid Jagger $4,500 and signed two written fee agreements. Although these agreements did not state that the fee was nonrefundable or earned on receipt, Jagger treated the funds as though they were his own, depositing them directly into his business account.
The second client retained Jagger to defend against federal criminal charges. Again, Jagger deposited the client’s retainer into his general business account rather than his trust account, despite the lack of a written fee agreement stating that the fee was nonrefundable or earned on receipt. The client fired Jagger before the matter was completed and asked for a partial refund. When Jagger returned only $100, the client asked for an accounting, which Jagger refused to give. The trial panel found that because Jagger failed to complete the representation, his retention of almost the entire amount constituted a clearly excessive fee. The panel ordered him to make restitution to the client of $6,000, which was the amount the client had to pay another attorney to complete the criminal matter.
The trial panel also found that Jagger knowingly failed to reasonably and timely respond to the bar’s inquiries in both matters. In determining sanction, the panel noted Jagger’s prior disciplinary history, which included violations similar to those in the case before the panel.
THOMAS K. OKAI
Form B resignation
Effective July 28, 2011, the Oregon Supreme Court accepted the Form B resignation of Ontario lawyer Thomas K. Okai. At the time of resignation, the bar was pursuing a disciplinary proceeding in which Okai was alleged to have violated RPC 1.15-1(a) (failing to promptly notify client of funds), RPC 1.16(d) (failing to properly withdraw), RPC 8.4(a)(2) (commit a criminal act that reflects adversely on a lawyer’s honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer in other respects), RPC 8.4(a)(3) (conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation) and RPC 8.1(a)(2) (knowingly failing to respond in a bar investigation).
Okai was admitted to practice in 1985. As a result of a prior disciplinary proceeding, Okai had been suspended from the practice of law since April 22, 2009. Okai’s resignation recited that he closed his practice in 2006 and had no client files or records in his possession
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: Brian James Anderson, Marisa Ann Bender, David Farley Betz, Matthew Bisturis, Carol Ann Castleberry, Shiau Yen Chin-Dennis, Christopher Nemser Coby Cohen, Ciaran Patrick Ahern Connelly, Kazuemon Walter Davis, Gregory James Duff, Matthew Earl Ellis, James Geocaris, Colin Patrick Hayes, Michael James Heher, Aaron Bruns Hewitt, Kevin James Hui, Terrill Ann Hyde, Stellman Kim Keehnel, Kate Marie Hollenbeck Killberg, Carl Dougal Macpherson IV, Zachary O’Hanley McIsaac, James Andrew McPhee, Mark Bruce Moburg, Katrina Elsa Mulligan, Kristin Erika Nelson, Kevin Donald O’Leary Timothy Shane O’Neill, Scott Bryan Parks, Jarrett Keith Payne, Kathryn Allen Robinson, Amy Elmendorf Tucker, Patricia Ann VanRollins, Thomas Edward Vesbit, Jason Richard Wandler, Lawrence Charles Watters, John Hamilton Williamson.
House Counsel: Randy Roy Heiden.
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:
Alexander Gordon of Marietta, Ga., #822671. Alexander Gordon has been an inactive bar member since 2002. He is an active member of the Georgia Bar, where he has been in private practice since 2004, and an inactive member of the Washington Bar. He has accepted a position with the Clackamas County Counsel and is now in the process of returning to Oregon.
James J. Kolstoe of Eugene, #852586. James Kolstoe is seeking reinstatement following two consecutive disciplinary suspensions: a 60-day suspension in In re Kolstoe, 20 DB Rptr 28 (2006), and a four-year suspension effective Jan. 22, 2007, In re Kolstoe, 21 DB Rptr 43 (2007). He has been employed in various non-law- related positions while suspended and hopes to practice in the Eugene-Springfield area following reinstatement.
Jo Ellen Zucker of Bend, #883371. Inactive since 1995, Jo Ellen Zucker has focused on her family for the past few years. She has served as a volunteer mediator for the Deschutes County courts and worked briefly as a paralegal and freelance newspaper reporter. Following her reinstatement, Zucker plans to obtain a position in the area of family law and mediation.
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.