Note:Nearly 12,000 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.
CRAIG C. COYNER
Effective Oct. 21, 2002, the disciplinary board approved a stipulation for discipline reprimanding Bend lawyer Craig C. Coyner for violating DR 6-101(B) (neglect of a legal matter entrusted to a lawyer) and DR 2-110(A)(2) (improper withdrawal from representation).
In one matter, Coyner was representing a client in a criminal case. On Jan. 22, 1999, the client entered a not guilty plea and the case was set for trial on March 31, 1999. Between Jan. 22, 1999, and March 31, 1999, Coyner failed to communicate with his client about the status of his legal matter.
In the other matter, Coyner was retained by a client to represent her in connection with a juvenile dependency proceeding and in a criminal matter. The criminal matter went to trial and Coyner’s client was acquitted on all charges. Some time after Coyner’s client was acquitted, Coyner withdrew from representing her. He did not notify his client or the court that he was withdrawing and did not appear at a scheduled hearing regarding the juvenile dependency proceeding.
Effective Nov. 25, 2002, the Oregon Supreme Court suspended Portland attorney Virgil Dugger for nine months for violation of DR 1-102(A)(3) (misrepresentation), DR 1-102(A)(4) (conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice) and DR 7-110(B)(2) and (3) (ex parte communication).
The court found that Dugger made misrepresentations to two different judges in two different proceedings. On the first occasion, Dugger appeared ex parte in the circuit court for a temporary restraining order. Dugger represented that the alleged events upon which his client relied for a temporary restraining order occurred over the previous weekend, when they had occurred some time earlier. The circuit court judge asked Dugger if he had contacted opposing counsel. Dugger, with reason to know that the defendant was represented, led the court to believe that there was none.
At a later hearing in the circuit court, opposing counsel questioned Dugger about his earlier representations. Dugger denied that the court had asked him if he had contacted opposing counsel, which was not true. When confronted with a recording of the earlier proceeding and asked for an explanation, Dugger offered none.
The court also found that Dugger communicated with the circuit court concerning the merits of a cause in writing without promptly delivering a copy of the writing to opposing counsel, and appeared ex parte without notice to opposing counsel. Dugger conceded that he made a mistake, but argued that a culpable mental state was a necessary element of DR 7-110(B). The court disagreed, stating that a mistaken belief that a lawyer was not required to give notice of a contact with the court is not a defense to the charge.
Dugger was admitted to practice in Oregon in 1962. He had a prior record of discipline.
MARK A. ERIKSON
On Oct. 22, 2002, the Oregon Supreme Court suspended Camas, Wash., lawyer Mark A. Erikson for 30 days, effective Dec. 21, 2002.
The court imposed the sanction in a BR 3.5 reciprocal discipline proceeding. Erikson’s conduct was brought to the bar’s attention by the Washington State Bar after Erikson entered into a stipulation for discipline in that state.
Erikson’s conduct took place in the state of Washington and it included conduct in two client matters. In the first client matter, Erikson entered into an agreement to secure his fee with a trust deed on property that was the subject of the litigation in which he represented the client. Under Washington law, Erikson was required to obtain his clients’ consent to this transaction after full disclosure, but failed to do so. He stipulated that this conduct constituted representing a client when the representation may be materially limited by his own interests without first obtaining the clients’ consent after full disclosure and acquiring a proprietary interest in the subject matter of litigation in which he represented a party.
In the second client matter, Erikson’s firm represented clients in litigation. When the associate who had been handling the case left Erikson’s firm, the clients elected to remain with Erikson. Thereafter, Erikson took no further action on behalf of the clients, attempted to deliver their file to his former associate and withdrew from the representation without giving the clients proper notice and at a time when responses to discovery requests were due. Erikson stipulated that this conduct constituted neglect of a legal matter, improper withdrawal from employment and conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice.
Finally, in the course of his practice, Erikson hired an associate attorney who was a member of the California bar, but not a member of the Washington bar. Erikson’s salary arrangement with the associate involved paying her a percentage of legal fees she generated, and she was represented to be a lawyer on the firm’s letterhead. Erikson stipulated that this conduct constituted a material misrepresentation or misleading statement in an advertisement and sharing legal fees with a non-lawyer.
GARELD JOEL GEDROSE
Pursuant to a stipulation for discipline approved by the disciplinary board on Oct. 8, 2002, Portland lawyer Gareld J. Gedrose was publicly reprimanded for violation of DR 6-101(B) (neglect of a legal matter) and DR 9-101(C)(4) (failure to promptly return client property).
In February 2001, Gedrose was present when his client pleaded and was sentenced pursuant to an agreement that took into account the credit Gedrose’s client would receive for good behavior. Later that same month, Gedrose, the prosecutor and the court were notified by the Department of Corrections that Gedrose’s client did not qualify to receive credit for good behavior and therefore his sentence would need to be amended to reflect this provision.
Gedrose attempted to negate the applicability of this provision by negotiating with the district attorney to arrive at a sentence similar to that contemplated when his client pled. However, Gedrose failed to communicate this to his client or inform the client of the status of his sentence prior to or after the amended sentencing judgment was signed on March 14, 2001.
In August 2001, Gedrose’s client was notified by the Department of Corrections that his sentence had been amended. He attempted to contact Gedrose in September 2001, providing Gedrose his original copy of the temporary sentencing order and requesting that Gedrose return the same in conjunction with an explanation for the change in his sentence. Gedrose did not respond.
Although Gedrose researched alternatives to assist his client, he did not provide his client any explanation until a letter dated Jan. 19, 2002. Gedrose did not return his client’s original temporary sentencing order until after his client had been released from custody in March 2002.
For failing to keep his client adequately advised on the status of his legal matter, and for failing to timely return documents requested by his client, Gedrose was found to have violated DR 6-101(B) and DR 9-101(C)(4). Gedrose had no prior discipline.
JAMES JOSEPH McLAUGHLIN
Effective Oct. 24, 2002, the supreme court disbarred Portland lawyer James Joseph McLaughlin from the practice of law for violating numerous disciplinary rules in 11 matters.
In all 11 matters, McLaughlin failed to pursue his clients’ objectives and failed to maintain adequate communications with them in violation of DR 6-101(B) (neglect of a legal matter entrusted to a lawyer). In six of the matters, he either made affirmative false representations to clients or knowingly failed to disclose material information to clients in violation of DR 1-102(A)(3) (engaging in conduct involving misrepresentation).
McLaughlin also violated DR 1-103(C) (failure to cooperate in disciplinary investigation) when he failed to respond to the bar’s inquiry in all 11 matters.
MARK G. PASSANNANTE
On Oct. 21, 2002, the disciplinary board approved a stipulation for discipline publicly reprimanding Portland attorney Mark Passannante for violation of DR 2-110(A)(2) (improper withdrawal), DR 6-101(B) (neglect), DR 9-101(A) (failure to maintain client funds in a lawyer trust account in Oregon) and DR 9-101(C)(3) (failure to account for client funds).
Two clients retained Passannante to pursue claims against a bar for alleged personal injuries sustained during a bar fight. The clients delivered a cost retainer to Passannante, which he deposited in a lawyer trust account located in the state of Washington, when his office was located in Oregon.
Between about August 1999 and March 2000, Passannante investigated his clients’ claims and incurred limited costs, which were paid from the clients’ funds in his lawyer trust account. In the spring of 2000, the bar’s insurer notified Passannante that his clients’ claims were denied.
Between about March 2000 and March 2001, Passannante failed to pursue his clients’ claims and failed to respond to his clients’ attempts to communicate with him. In or about March 2001, he reviewed the matter and concluded that the clients’ claims were not well-founded. Passannante prepared and sent a letter to his clients informing them of his conclusion and advising that he declined to further pursue the claims. Passannante failed to deliver a copy of the clients’ file and the funds remaining in his lawyer trust account to his clients, and failed to account to his clients for the funds they had delivered to him.
Passannante was admitted to practice in Oregon in 1994. He had no prior record of discipline.
STEPHEN C.P. CARROLL
Effective Nov. 1, 2002, the disciplinary board approved a stipulation for discipline between the bar and Eugene lawyer Stephen C. P. Carroll wherein Carroll agreed to a 120-day suspension for violating DR 1-102(A)(2) (criminal act reflecting on fitness).
Carroll willfully failed to file income tax returns for tax years 1998 and 1999. Carroll filed his 1998 and 1999 returns in January 2002. In June 2002, Carroll advised the disciplinary counsel’s office of his failure to file his tax returns and fully cooperated with the bar inquiry thereafter. Carroll had no prior discipline.
TAMI S.P. CARROLL
Effective Oct. 18, 2002, the disciplinary board approved a stipulation for discipline between the bar and Eugene lawyer Tami S.P. Carroll, wherein Carroll agreed to a 120-day suspension for violating DR 1-102(A)(2) (criminal act reflecting on fitness).
Carroll willfully failed to file income tax returns for tax years 1998 and 1999. Carroll filed her 1998 and 1999 returns in January 2002 and established a payment plan with the IRS for back taxes owed. Since negotiating the plan, Carroll has complied with its terms.
In April 2002, Carroll advised the disciplinary counsel’s office of her failure to file her tax returns and fully cooperated with the bar inquiry thereafter. Carroll had no prior discipline.
Mercer Island, Wash.
Effective Dec. 21, 2002, the Oregon Supreme Court suspended former Beaverton attorney Shana Pavithran for one year, pursuant to a stipulation for discipline.
In four separate matters, Pavithran admitted 13 violations of the disciplinary rules. They included: multiple instances of neglect of client matters; unauthorized practice of law; misrepresentation concerning her eligibility to practice law; failure to withdraw; failure to maintain client funds in trust; failure to promptly deliver client property and failure to cooperate with the disciplinary authorities in the investigation of her conduct.
Pavithran was admitted to practice in Oregon in 1995. She had no prior record of discipline. Pavithran has been suspended from the practice of law since July 1999.