|Oregon State Bar Bulletin AUGUST 2012|
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.
On April 4, 2012, the disciplinary board approved a stipulation reprimanding Reno, Nev., lawyer Bryan Hunt for violating RPC 1.15-1(m) (failing to file annual IOLTA certification) and RPC 8.1(a)(2) (knowingly failing to respond to the bar).
Between December 2010 and May 2011, despite numerous notices, Hunt failed to file a report verifying that he was in compliance with the IOLTA rules. In May 2011, the matter was referred to the bar’s disciplinary counsel’s office. Hunt knowingly failed to respond to inquiries from disciplinary counsel’s office. Hunt eventually filed the 2011 compliance report.
RICHARD D. FRANKLIN
On May 29, 2012, the disciplinary board approved a stipulation suspending Gresham lawyer Richard D. Franklin from the practice of law for 30 days, effective June 6, 2012, for violating the following: DR 6-101(B) and RPC 1.3 (neglect); RPC 1.4(a) (failing to communicate); RPC 1.16(c) (failing to comply with applicable law requiring notice of termination); and RPC 1.16(d) (failing to properly withdraw).
Franklin represented a client in a lawsuit alleging that the defendant improperly confiscated equipment owned by the client. The court granted a stipulated motion placing the lawsuit on the two-year abatement docket for the purpose of mediation or arbitration. Franklin failed to inform his client that the lawsuit would be dismissed in two years. Franklin told the client that he had entered into an agreement with the opposing lawyer that there would be no statute of limitations on her claims. While Franklin believed such an agreement existed, he failed to pursue and secure one.
Initially, Franklin took some steps to pursue mediation. However, he never contacted the agreed-upon mediator and never pursued the scheduling of mediation. At around the same time, the client received funds from the defendant in partial satisfaction of any judgment she might subsequently obtain.
Periodically thereafter, the client left telephone messages for Franklin. At times, Franklin did not promptly return her calls. When Franklin did return her calls, he reiterated that she should not worry about the matter because there was no statute of limitations.
When the two-year abatement period expired, the court dismissed the lawsuit. Franklin failed to pursue the lawsuit near or at the time the abatement period expired or at anytime thereafter.
Franklin stopped pursuing the client’s legal matter, but failed to file an application to resign, as required by UTCR 3.140(1), failed to notify the court and the opposing lawyer that he was withdrawing and otherwise failed to protect his client’s interests. Franklin also failed to respond to requests for a copy of any agreement he had made with the opposing lawyer regarding the client’s claims.
SHELLEY L. FULLER
On June 8, 2012, the disciplinary board approved a stipulation suspending Beaverton lawyer Shelley L. Fuller from the practice of law for 90 days, effective July 1, 2012, for violating RPC 8.4(a)(3) (conduct involving misrepresentation).
On a number of occasions between 2008 and 2010, Fuller provided paystubs to her employees representing that amounts had been withdrawn for taxes and voluntary retirement contributions. The employees reasonably concluded that the amounts withheld were being timely paid to the taxing authorities or retirement plan administrator. At the time Fuller issued those paystubs, she knew that the amounts reportedly withheld were not being timely paid, although she timely filed the appropriate tax forms, accurately reported the amounts due, and kept detailed internal records regarding the amounts due. Fuller, because she lacked business experience, used the funds she should have timely sent to the taxing authorities or the retirement fund administrator to pay other firm obligations.
By October 2010, Fuller had paid all outstanding retirement contributions. By January 2012, Fuller had paid all outstanding tax obligations, including penalties and interest.
CAROL J. FREDRICK
Effective May 30, 2012, a trial panel of the disciplinary board publically reprimanded McMinnville lawyer Carol J. Fredrick for violation of former DR 6-101(A) (failure to provide competent representation).
Fredrick represented a client in a dissolution of marriage proceeding. The client and her father expressed concern that the client’s spouse would attempt to cut the client out of her share of the marital estate by fraudulent means. They also discussed funds that the father had given to the couple during the course of the marriage and whether these funds could be taken into account in any division of marital assets and liabilities. Fredrick advised that a promissory note in favor of the father for the funds he gave to the couple could be used to character those funds as a loan, and Fredrick had the client sign such a note. She also advised that a UCC-1 statement be filed as a means of protecting the client’s interests in the marital real estate, and such a statement was then filed.
The trial panel found that Fredrick’s advice regarding the promissory note and UCC-1 statement was not competent. The note, prepared long after the father had made the payments which had been treated as gifts when made, could not have advanced the client’s interests, and the UCC filing was wholly unsuited for the purpose of securing a real property interest. The panel found that Fredrick did not apprise herself of the relevant facts or acquaint herself with the applicable law before rendering advice to the client.
The trial panel dismissed other charges in which the bar alleged that Fredrick violated former DR 5-105(E) (conflict of interest) and DR 7-104(A)(2) (improper communication with an unrepresented person).
Fredrick was admitted to practice in Oregon in 1988. She had no prior record of discipline.
LAWRENCE P. CULLEN
Effective June 26, 2012, the disciplinary board disbarred Portland lawyer, Lawrence P. Cullen, finding that in connection with his representation of clients in personal injury matters, he committed multiple violations of the Oregon Rules of Professional Conduct, including violations of: RPC 1.3 (neglect); RPC 1.4(a) (failure to keep a client reasonably informed about the status of a matter); RPC 1.15-1(a) & (d) (failure to safeguard, account for, and return client property); and RPC 8.4(a)(2) & (3) (knowing conversion of client funds). Cullen failed to respond to the bar’s inquiries in violation of RPC 8.1(a)(2) and elected not to appear in the formal proceedings. Cullen had been a member of the bar since 1992.