Oregon State Bar Bulletin DECEMBER 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.
DANIEL W. GOFF
On June 14, 2012, the Oregon Supreme Court issued an opinion suspending Eugene lawyer Daniel W. Goff for 18 months, effective Aug.13, 2012, for violating the following: DR 6-101(B) (neglect); DR 1-102(A)(3)/RPC 8.4(a)(3) (misrepresentation); DR 9-101(A) (failing to maintain client funds in trust); DR 9-101(C)(3)/RPC 1.15-1(d) (failing to maintain records and provide an accounting); RPC 1.4(a) (failing to communicate); RPC 1.15-1(e) (mishandling disputed funds); RPC 8.1(a)(1) (false statement in a disciplinary matter); and RPC 8.1(a)(2) (failing to respond to the bar).
In one matter, Goff represented a client in a legal malpractice claim against two of her former lawyers, alleging that they failed to name the correct defendant in a personal injury lawsuit. As a result of defenses raised by the former lawyers, Goff sought to re-open the client’s prior bankruptcy proceeding and agreed to deposit and maintain any settlement funds in his trust account until the bankruptcy trustee gave up any right to those funds and promised not to pursue claims against the settling lawyer. Goff received the settlement funds from one lawyer, but failed to deposit and maintain them in his trust account and failed to inform the opposing lawyer and the bankruptcy trustee that the funds were not in trust. Goff then undertook to represent the bankruptcy trustee in pursuing claims against the other lawyer. When that case was resolved, Goff filed a lawsuit against the proper defendant in the personal injury claim.
For a number of years while the malpractice or personal injury matters were pending, Goff failed to maintain adequate communications with his clients and failed to respond to their numerous inquiries. His inaction also resulted in numerous dismissals by the court. Goff knowingly failed to inform the bankruptcy trustee that the court had granted summary judgment against the trustee and had entered a judgment for costs against her. Goff also made misrepresentations to the bar during its investigation.
In a second matter, Goff undertook to represent a client in a number of matters. When the client terminated Goff’s representation, Goff failed to timely provide an accounting, improperly withdrew disputed funds from his trust account, and made misrepresentations to his former client and to the bar during its investigation.
Goff also undertook to represent a client in a dissolution of marriage proceeding. Goff pursued the matter for a period of time, but failed to obtain a judgment of dissolution, although he informed his client that the matter had been completed. A number of years later, the client discovered that his marriage had not been legally dissolved. Goff agreed to complete the matter, but failed to do so and did not respond to the bar during its investigation.
In a final matter, Goff agreed to evaluate whether a client should file a motion for new trial or an appeal in a criminal matter. Goff determined that there was nothing he could do for the client, but failed to inform the client of his conclusion for over a year.
DANIEL KREGE CHRISTENSEN
On Oct. 1, 2012, the disciplinary board approved a stipulation reprimanding West Linn lawyer Daniel Krege Christensen for violating RPC 8.4(a)(4) (conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice).
Christensen’s former wife filed a request for administrative review of Christensen’s monthly child support obligation with the state of Oregon. As part of that process, Christensen submitted a Uniform Income Statement in which he negligently did not list significant bonuses he had received. Despite the omission, the state, based upon information from other sources, including information provided by Christensen, included the bonuses in its calculation of Christensen’s monthly income. Christensen has not practiced law in Oregon since 2010.
JASON C. McBRIDE
Form B resignation
Effective Oct. 4, 2012, the Oregon Supreme Court accepted the Form B resignation of Salem immigration attorney Jason C. McBride. McBride had been suspended by the court since June 16, 2012, pending the outcome of disciplinary proceedings.
At the time of the resignation, a formal complaint was pending against McBride alleging that, in a dozen matters between January 2007 and January 2012, McBride did the following: failed to provide competent representation; neglected legal matters or failed to perform services for which he was paid; failed to communicate with clients; collected excessive fees and failed to properly handle and account for client funds, in violation of the following RPC 1.1, RPC 1.3, RPC 1.4, RPC 1.5, RPC 1.15-1 and other rules. At the time of his resignation there were additional investigations pending with the bar where the complainants made similar allegations to those in the formal complaint. McBride had been a lawyer in Oregon since 2003.
The resignation recited that McBride’s client files have been placed in the custody of attorney Eric W. Olsen of the Olsen Daines firm in Salem.
JOHN D. CURTIS
Form B resignation
On Oct. 4, 2012, the Oregon Supreme Court accepted the Form B resignation of Central Point lawyer John D. Curtis. At the time of the resignation, Curtis was the subject of a formal disciplinary proceeding and a pending investigation. The proceeding alleged that Curtis neglected a matter involving a trust (RPC 1.3), inadequately communicated with his clients (RPC 1.4(a)), charged an excessive fee (RPC 1.5(a)), did not deposit client funds in trust (RPC 1.15-1(a)) and practiced law during a period when he was suspended for not paying bar fees (RPC 5.5(a)), among other violations. In a separate investigation, the bar was looking into allegations that Curtis may have mishandled conservatorship funds in violation of RPC 1.1 (lack of competence) and RPC 1.7(a)(2) (conflict of interest).
Curtis had been a bar member since 1989. In the resignation, Noel Kersey was named as the lawyer who would take custody of Curtis’ client files.
OSB # 031301
Effective Oct. 15, 2012, the disciplinary board approved a stipulation for discipline reprimanding Lake Oswego lawyer Michael Nesheiwat for violations of RPC 1.5(a) (excessive fee) and RPC 8.4(a)(4) (conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice).
Nesheiwat agreed to a barter agreement whereby he would conduct patent searches and draft one or more patent applications for a client in exchange for landscaping services for his home. Nesheiwat performed art searches and worked on a draft patent, but did not keep accurate time records and instead guessed, after the fact, at the time spent per search result.
Nesheiwat made assertions to the client about his time, and the equivalent landscaping services required from the client, when Nesheiwat had no way to know or verify how much time he had actually spent on the client’s inventions.
A dispute arose over whether Nesheiwat’s time records were accurate and whether the client had performed sufficient hours of work on Nesheiwat’s home.
Nesheiwat made a claim against his client with the Construction Contractors Board (“CCB”) and provided the CCB with emails that purported to be communications between Nesheiwat and the client and supported Nesheiwat’s position with respect to the barter agreement.
When a complaint was later made to the bar, Nesheiwat provided these same emails to support his position. However, some of these emails were not accurate accounts of the parties’ communications, but were drafts that Nesheiwat had never sent to his client, and which had been retrieved from his computer when Nesheiwat conducted a search of his email for supporting documentation. These emails, therefore, did not memorialize any understanding between the parties, as Nesheiwat had negligently asserted to both the bar and the CCB.
6-month suspension, stayed, 2-year probation
Effective Oct. 25, 2012, the disciplinary board approved a stipulation for discipline suspending Portland lawyer Trevor Robins for 6 months, all stayed pending completion of a 2-year term of probation, for violations including: RPC 1.3 (neglect); RPC 5.5(a) (unlawful practice); RPC 1.16(a)(2) (failure to withdraw when impaired); RPC 1.16(d) (failure to return file following termination); RPC 8.1(a)(2) (failure to respond to a disciplinary authority); and RPC 8.4(a)(4) (conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice).
Robins’ violations came in connection with two separate matters. The first involved Robins’ continued practice following suspension for failing to pay his Professional Liability Fund assessment. Robins also failed to respond to bar inquiries concerning the matter.
The second matter involved Robins’ representation of a conservator in a probate matter. Following the protected person’s death, the conservator surrendered financial records to Robins, so that he could prepare the accounting, but Robins failed to timely file the accounting or return the records to the conservator so that she could do so. Thereafter, the conservator hired new counsel, who obtained a show cause order to require Robins to deliver the financial records to the court. Robins failed to appear for the scheduled hearing, although he did make efforts to communicate with the court that morning. Robins made a number of subsequent promises to deliver the conservatorship documents to the conservator’s attorney, but failed to follow through until after the probate judge brought the matter to the bar’s attention.
The stipulation recited that much of Robins’ misconduct was attributable to his chemical dependency, and the terms of his probation require ongoing monitoring for dependency issues. Robins had no prior discipline and has been a lawyer in Oregon since 2004.
ROBERT G. KLAHN
Effective Nov. 1, 2012, the disciplinary board approved a stipulation for discipline suspending Pendleton attorney Robert Klahn for 90 days for violations of RPC 1.4(a) & (b) (duty to keep a client reasonably informed and explain a matter to the extent necessary to allow the client to make informed decisions about the representation) and RPC 8.4(a)(4) (conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice).
Between Dec. 9, 2009, and Jan. 8, 2010, Klahn did not appear as noticed and scheduled in three unrelated criminal matters and failed to notify the court that he would not be appearing.
In a fourth matter, Klahn was court-appointed to defend a Measure 11 assault charge by an inmate against a guard but failed to communicate with his client for four months leading up to the trial readiness hearing, and he could not advise the court whether his client was prepared to go to trial. Klahn thereafter failed to locate and communicate with his client between the trial readiness hearing and the day before the trial date, despite the court’s direction, whereupon the court convened another hearing, confirmed that Klahn had had only limited communications with his client, and removed Klahn from the case.
The stipulation recited that Klahn’s sanction was aggravated by factors including prior discipline in 2008 for failing to communicate with clients and his substantial experience in the practice of law.
On Nov. 5, 2012, the disciplinary board approved a stipulation reprimanding Eugene lawyer David Moule for violating RPC 1.7(a)(1) (current client conflict of interest) and RPC 1.7(a)(2) (lawyer self-interest conflict).
Moule represented a trust and was also the trustee. Moule facilitated a loan from the trust to another client and represented both of them in the loan transaction.
Later, the borrowing client was arrested and the bank account containing the loan proceeds was seized by law enforcement. Moule undertook to represent the borrowing client in the criminal matter. At the time, the trust client had an interest in pursuing its investment either by recovering the funds seized or by foreclosing on its security interest, while the borrowing client had an interest in avoiding or minimizing any consequences arising from the criminal matter. There was also a significant risk that Moule’s representation of the borrowing client in the criminal matter would be materially limited by Moule’s interest in avoiding potential liability to the trust.
Insofar as informed consent was available, Moule failed to obtain consent, after full disclosure, from the borrowing client.
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: Steffan Kwesi Alexander; Virgil Ian Hale; Jeffrey Royal Johnson; Donald Joseph Moran; Darren T. Nakata; Michael John Wietecki;, Grady Lowrey Williamson; and Jonathan James Young.
In-House Counsel: Tiffiny Collette Evans
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:
Philip R. Bennett of Portland, #841687. Philip Bennett stipulated to a 120-day disciplinary suspension effective Dec. 14, 2009 . In re Bennett , 23 DB Rptr 192 (2009). At the conclusion of the 120 days he did not seek reinstatement. Bennett recently began working as a part-time litigation assistant for area law firms, and hopes to return to the active practice of law following reinstatement.
Ann E. Setty-Rosevear of Nevada, #971347. Ann Setty-Rosevear of Reno, Nev., voluntarily resigned her Oregon State Bar membership in 2001. She was previously admitted to the Washington State Bar in 1996, and practiced in Vancouver in the early years of her career. In 2000, she moved to Nevada and was admitted to that bar the same year. She has been with the same Reno law firm, Walsh, Baker & Rosevear, since 2001, and will remain with the firm after reinstatement.
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.