Oregon State Bar Bulletin — MAY 2002
Note: More than 11,300 attorneys 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.
L. BRITTON EADIE
On Dec. 6, 2001, the supreme court suspended West Linn lawyer, L. Britton Eadie, for a period of three years for violation of DR 1-102(A)(3) (conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation); DR 1-102(A)(4) (conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice); DR 7-102(A)(5) (knowingly making a false statement of law or fact); DR 7-110(B) (ex parte contact with the court); DR 6-101(A) (lack of competence); DR 7-106(C)(1) (stating or eluding to a matter that will not be supported by admissible evidence); and DR 7-106(C)(7) (intentionally or habitually violating an established rule of procedure or evidence). The suspension is effective beginning Feb. 4, 2002.
The court ruled on Eadie's conduct in four client matters. In the first matter, Eadie settled a case with an unrepresented party. The settlement agreement did not provide for an award of costs, even though Eadie intended to recover costs. Thereafter, Eadie sought and obtained a default judgment for costs. The court found that Eadie's failure to disclose to the adverse party his intent to obtain a judgment for costs when he settled the case, and thereafter, was a failure to correct a false impression created by non-disclosure of a material fact.
In the second matter, Eadie caused a judge to sign an order by knowingly misrepresenting to the judge that the form of order accurately reflected the judge's prior ruling regarding rescheduling a case. Eadie also filed two motions to disqualify judges in this case without serving the motions on opposing counsel.
In a third matter, Eadie represented the plaintiff in a personal injury matter that went to trial. Eadie was not prepared for the trial, repeatedly ignored the court's evidentiary rulings, repeatedly attempted to inject the issue of the defendant's insurance at the trial, repeatedly posed questions to witnesses seeking hearsay or other incompetent evidence, made multiple and unfounded objections during the trial, and moved for a new trial after accepting satisfaction of judgment on his client's behalf.
In the fourth matter, Eadie assigned an inexperienced associate to handle the defense of motions for summary judgment. The associate had never responded to a motion for summary judgment, and Eadie failed to properly supervise the associate's work, resulting in summary judgment being granted to the opposing party.
In arriving at the sanction, the court considered Eadie's substantial experience in the practice of law and his failure to acknowledge the wrongful nature of any of his misconduct.
THOMAS J. DITTON
On March 11, 2002, the disciplinary board approved a stipulation reprimanding Hermiston lawyer Thomas J. Ditton for violating DR 9-101(A) (failure to maintain client funds in trust), DR 9-101(C)(3) (failure to maintain records and render appropriate accounting) and DR 9-101(C)(4) (failure to promptly deliver to a client funds the client is entitled to receive).
Ditton was retained to represent a client in a dissolution of marriage proceeding. The written fee agreement provided for the client to pay Ditton a minimum attorney fee plus $350 for costs. Ditton received those funds from his client and deposited them into his lawyer trust account.
Shortly thereafter, Ditton expended $91 in costs on behalf of the client. A few weeks later, before Ditton completed the matter, he transferred the remaining funds he had received from the client into his general business account. Ditton also failed to render an appropriate accounting to his client. After the dissolution of marriage proceeding was completed, the client asked Ditton for a refund of any unused costs. Ditton failed to promptly refund the unused costs to the client.
In another matter, Ditton was retained to set aside an order requiring a client to pay child support. Ditton orally agreed to represent the client for a flat fee of $700. Ditton received those funds from his client and deposited them into his lawyer trust account.
Ditton filed a petition to set aside the support order. Thereafter, before Ditton completed the matter, he transferred the funds he had received from his client into his general business account. Ditton also failed to render an appropriate accounting to his client.
Form B resignation
Effective April 1, 2002, the Oregon Supreme Court accepted the Form B resignation of Bend lawyer Myer Avedovech. At the time of the resignation, a formal disciplinary proceeding was pending against Avedovech for multiple violations of DR 5-101(A) (self-interest conflict) and DR 5-110(A) (sexual relations with clients). He was also charged with violation of DR 1-102(A)(3) (knowingly engaging in dishonesty and misrepresentation) and DR 1-103(C) (failing to respond truthfully to the disciplinary authorities).
Avedovech was admitted to practice in 1965. In the resignation, Avedovech stated that client files and records have been or will be placed in the custody of Bend lawyer Jonathan W. Hayner.
On March 26, 2002, the disciplinary board approved a stipulation reprimanding Portland lawyer Chris Covert for violating DR 2-110(A)(1) (failure to properly withdraw from employment), DR 5-105(C) (former client conflict of interest) and DR 5-105(E) (current client conflict of interest).
Covert represented both creditor and debtor when he met with them and then prepared an agreement between them. When the debtor failed to make payments pursuant to the agreement, the creditor retained another lawyer who obtained a judgment against the debtor and issued a writ of garnishment.
After the writ of garnishment was served on the debtor's employer, Covert undertook to represent the debtor and filed a Chapter 13 bankruptcy petition on his behalf. Covert failed to obtain consent after full disclosure from the creditor and debtor before undertaking to represent the debtor in connection with the writ of garnishment and bankruptcy proceeding.
At the time Covert undertook to represent the debtor in the writ of garnishment, he also represented the debtor's employer in other matters. Covert failed to obtain consent after full disclosure from the debtor and the debtor's employer before undertaking to represent the debtor in the writ of garnishment.
Covert subsequently withdrew from representing the debtor in the bankruptcy proceeding. He failed to obtain permission to withdraw from the bankruptcy court, as required by local rule.
ROBERT L. McKEE
On Jan. 10, 2002, the Oregon Supreme Court filed an opinion conditionally reinstating Robert L. McKee to the practice of law in Oregon. McKee was reinstated effective Feb. 13, 2002.
McKee sought reinstatement to the practice of law after having served an 18-month suspension that the court imposed in July 1993. See In re McKee, 316 Or. 114, 849 P.2d 509 (1993) (McKee II). McKee did not immediately apply for reinstatement because of health problems. When his health improved he filed an application for reinstatement. The bar recommended that the application be denied. McKee petitioned the court to review the bar's recommendation, and the court referred that petition to the disciplinary board. After a hearing, a trial panel of the disciplinary board recommended that McKee be reinstated on the condition that he complete 60 hours of minimum continuing legal education (MCLE) credits during his first year of reinstatement.
A majority of the court agreed with the trial panel and approved McKee's application for reinstatement conditioned on his successful completion of 45 hours of MCLE courses during the first three months of reinstatement before he actively practices law and an additional 15 hours of MCLE courses during the first 12 months following reinstatement. Two justices joined in a dissent finding that the record did not demonstrate that McKee had overcome the characteristics that lead to the previous misconduct.
DIANA M. SHERA TAYLOR
Pursuant to a stipulation for discipline approved by the disciplinary board on March 13, 2002, St. Helens lawyer Diana M. Shera Taylor was publicly reprimanded for violation of DR 6-101(B) (neglect of a legal matter).
Shera Taylor stipulated that in October 1999, she undertook to represent a wife in the settlement of her intestate husband's small estate. The decedent had two sons from a prior marriage who had a legal claim to the estate but had previously agreed to disclaim their interests. The sons later expressed reluctance to disclaim their interests in the estate without receiving further information regarding estate assets and the wife's financial situation. Although Shera Taylor hoped to persuade the sons to disclaim their interests, over a period of 19 months, she did not communicate adequately with the sons and took insufficient action to close the estate. Shera Taylor also failed to respond to numerous telephone contacts from her client concerning the status of the estate.
The sanction was determined after considering that Shera Taylor had no prior disciplinary record, she did not have a dishonest or selfish motive and cooperated with the bar's investigation.
WILLIAM P. KOONTZ
Pursuant to a stipulation for discipline approved by the disciplinary board on March 26, 2002, Cottage Grove lawyer William P. Koontz was publicly reprimanded for violating DR 3-102(A) (sharing legal fees with a non-lawyer).
The charges arose out of Koontz's association with a non-lawyer who was engaged in the business of selling revocable living trusts. The non-lawyer met with people who had expressed interest in purchasing living trusts, advised them of the advantages of living trusts and related estate planning documents and reviewed and recorded the clients' financial information. The financial information was to be used by Koontz in preparing the trusts and related documents. The non-lawyer also entered into the agreements with the clients for his and Koontz's services and collected both his fee and Koontz's fee.
In arriving at a sanction, the stipulation recited that Koontz has substantial experience in the practice of law, but has no prior disciplinary record.
MATTHEW W. DERBY
Pursuant to a stipulation for discipline approved by the disciplinary board on March 21, 2002, Roseburg lawyer Matthew W. Derby was publicly reprimanded for violating DR 6-101(B) (neglect of a legal matter) and DR 9-101(C)(4) (failure to promptly refund client funds).
The disciplinary charges arose when Derby was contacted by a California lawyer to vacate a default judgment that had been entered against the California lawyer's client. Derby was paid for his initial consultation and preliminary legal services. Later, the California lawyer advised Derby that his client wished to pursue proceedings to vacate the default judgment and paid Derby a retainer, which was deposited in Derby's trust account. Thereafter, Derby did nothing further on the matter, did not advise the California lawyer he did not intend to undertake the representation and did not respond to letters inquiring about the status of the matter. In one letter, Derby was requested to return the retainer if he did not intend to represent the client, but Derby did not refund the unearned fees until after a complaint was made to the bar.
In arriving at a sanction, the stipulation recited that Derby had no prior disciplinary record and did not act with a dishonest or selfish motive.