Oregon State Bar Bulletin JULY 2013
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.
MARIEL MARJORIE ETTINGER
Effective April 30, 2013, a trial panel of the disciplinary board suspended lawyer Mariel Majorie Ettinger, formerly of La Grande, for two years, for violations of the following: RPC 1.3 (neglect of a legal matter); RPC 1.4(a) (failure to communicate with a client); RPC 1.16(d) (failure to refund unearned fees or expenses upon termination of representation); RPC 8.1(a)(2) (knowing failure to respond to inquiry from a disciplinary authority (two counts)); RPC 8.1(c) (knowing failure to respond to the State Lawyers Assistance Committee); RPC 8.4(a)(2) (engaging in a criminal act reflecting adversely on honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer in other respects); and RPC 8.4(a)(3) (engaging in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation that reflects adversely on fitness to practice law). Ettinger did not respond to the bar’s formal complaint, and therefore an order of default was entered against her.
Ettinger represented a client in a criminal matter and deposited funds from the client into her lawyer trust account. While the client’s criminal matters were pending, Ettinger disappeared, failed to respond to her client’s inquiries and did not refund the unearned portion of the funds paid by the client. In a second matter, Ettinger represented a client in a probation revocation proceeding. Subsequently, both Ettinger and her client failed to attend a scheduled probation violation hearing. Thereafter, Ettinger misrepresented to the court that she had missed the scheduled hearing because her client had been in a residential treatment program and that she had moved for continuance and believed the hearing had been rescheduled. Ettinger also failed to return this client’s calls and failed to inform the client of the status of his case.
Finally, Ettinger was involved in a vehicle collision after which she left the scene and tried to mislead police officers about her involvement. At about the same time, she was convicted of two charges of driving under the influence, criminal mischief and initiating a false police report.
In suspending Ettinger, the trial panel considered the following aggravating factors: multiple offenses and a pattern of misconduct, Ettinger’s repeated refusal or failure to cooperate with the bar, and her illegal conduct. The trial panel found her absence of a prior disciplinary record as a mitigating factor.
ROBERT T. SCHERZER
Pursuant to a stipulation for discipline approved by the Oregon State Bar Disciplinary Board on April 30, 2013, Portland lawyer Robert T. Scherzer was publicly reprimanded for violating RPC 4.2 (communication with a person represented by counsel).
The charge arose out of Scherzer’s representation of mother in a proceeding brought by father to modify his parenting time with the couple’s 13-year old daughter. The court appointed counsel for the daughter, and Scherzer knew she was represented in the proceeding. While the daughter was represented by counsel, Scherzer met with mother and daughter and had a brief conversation with daughter regarding parenting time.
The stipulation stated that Scherzer was admonished in 2008 for violation of RPC 4.2, but that he did not act with a dishonest or selfish motive and made a timely good faith effort to rectify the consequences of his conduct.
MARK O. COTTLE
Pursuant to a stipulation for discipline, effective May 1, 2013, Mark O. Cottle was suspended for 30 days for violations of the following: RPC 1.3 (neglect of a legal matter, 2 counts); RPC 1.4(a) (failure to communicate with a client, 2 counts); RPC 1.5(a) (collecting a clearly excessive fee); RPC 1.15-1(a) (failure to maintain client money in trust and maintain adequate records of it); RPC 1.15-1(c) (failure to deposit client funds into trust and withdraw them only as earned in two client matters); RPC 1.15-1(d) (failure to return client property promptly upon request, 2 counts); and RPC 8.1(a)(2) (failure to respond to the lawful request of a disciplinary authority).
The stipulation for discipline recited that in one client matter, Cottle represented a client in a dissolution of marriage. The client paid Cottle a fee of $1,500 for an uncontested dissolution and an additional $336 for filing fees. Cottle prepared a petition and withdrew $1,736 from the client’s trust account, but did not file the petition with the court. Between June 2007 and January 2010, Cottle failed to take any other action to advance his client’s matter. When he realized he had not filed the petition, Cottle returned the filing fee to his lawyer trust account. Cottle did not substantively respond to the client’s multiple requests for the status of the case and an accounting. When the client complained to the bar, Cottle knowingly failed to respond to the bar’s inquiries.
In a second client matter, Cottle represented a Utah attorney and agreed to collect a $500,000 judgment against an Oregon resident. The client paid Cottle $50 for the recording fee, but Cottle did not open a file or take any action to advance the client’s matter. Cottle did not respond to the client’s repeated requests for the status of the case and failed to refund the recording fee upon request. Cottle, who was admitted to practice in Oregon in 1989, had no prior record of discipline.
C. DAVID HALL
Effective May 28, 2012, a trial panel suspended Portland lawyer C. David Hall for 150 days for violating RPC 1.3 (neglecting a legal matter), RPC 1.4(a) (failing to communicate), RPC 8.4(a)(3) (conduct involving misrepresentation) and RPC 8.4(a)(4) (conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice).
In one matter, Hall began representing a client in a claim for personal injuries. Hall filed a lawsuit on the client’s behalf. Thereafter, except for responding to a request for production, Hall failed to pursue the matter and eventually the lawsuit was dismissed by the court. Hall failed to communicate with his client and, when he discovered that the lawsuit had been dismissed, knowingly failed to inform his client of the dismissal.
In a second matter, the court appointed Hall’s client as personal representative of her husband’s estate. Hall failed to timely file an annual accounting and failed to appear at a hearing scheduled by the court to ascertain why an annual accounting had not been filed.
MARY J. GRIMES
On June 1, 2013, the disciplinary board approved a stipulation for discipline publicly reprimanding Redmond lawyer Mary J. Grimes, for violating RPC 1.4(a) (failing to keep client reasonably informed about the status of a matter and promptly comply with reasonable requests for information).
Grimes’ client wanted her to establish a guardianship/conservatorship so that his minor children could accept an insurance settlement arising out of the death of their mother. The insurance company insisted that a probate court approve the settlement and the proposed distribution among the beneficiaries. Because the decedent was not an Oregon resident, Grimes researched whether Oregon or some other state would be the appropriate venue for probate action. During this time, the client repeatedly emailed and otherwise tried to communicate with Grimes with requests for updates or news about her progress. Grimes was not adequately responsive to the client during this five- to six-month period.
Grimes had a prior record of discipline for neglect.
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