Oregon State Bar Bulletin — JUNE 2004


Note: Nearly 12,200 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.

OSB # 87278
Public reprimand

On April 13, 20004, the disciplinary board approved a stipulation for discipline reprimanding Portland attorney Jacqueline L. Koch for violation of DR 2-110(A)(2), DR 2-110(B)(2), DR 6-101(B) and DR 9-101(C)(4) of the Code of Professional Responsibility.

In early 2002, Koch was retained to pursue collection of unpaid spousal support for a client. The client signed a fee agreement and paid a retainer to Koch. At the time, the client was incarcerated.

During the months that followed, Koch took no action to advance the client’s claim and failed to respond to the client’s inquires concerning the matter. After about 10 months, the client notified Koch that if she did not want to handle the matter, the client would arrange for another lawyer to represent her interests. The client asked Koch to respond. Koch did not respond and took no action on the client’s claim.

After a few more months, the client again notified Koch that she needed action on her case and asked Koch to return the retainer and all of the documents the client had delivered to her. Koch did not respond, took no action on the client’s matter, and did not deliver all or any part of the retainer or the documents the client requested.

Koch admitted that her conduct constituted: withdrawal from employment without taking reasonable steps to avoid foreseeable prejudice to a client’s rights; failure to withdraw from employment when she knew or it was obvious that continued employment would result in violation of a disciplinary rule; neglect of a legal matter and failure to promptly deliver as requested property a client was entitled to receive.

Koch was admitted to practice in 1987. She had no prior record of discipline.

OSB #92284
30-day suspension

On April 6, 2004 the disciplinary board approved a stipulation for discipline, effective June 5, 2004, suspending Salem lawyer Daniel Doyle for 30 days for violating DR 6-101(B) (neglect of a legal matter), DR 9-101(A) (failure to deposit client funds into trust), DR 9-101(C)(3) (failure to provide appropriate accountings) and DR 9-101(C)(4) (failure to promptly return client property).

In one matter, Doyle was retained by a client to foreclose on a trust deed and obtain a variance on a salvage yard she owned. The client paid Doyle a $4,000 retainer. There was no written fee agreement. Doyle failed to deposit the retainer into his lawyer trust account. The client discharged Doyle after 13 months. Between the time he was retained and the time he was discharged, there were long periods of time when Doyle failed to pursue his client’s legal matter and failed to maintain adequate communications with her. During those same months, Doyle also failed to render appropriate accountings to his client. The client retained a new lawyer and requested a refund of the $4,000 retainer. Doyle did not make a refund to his client until two months later.

In another matter, Doyle represented a client in connection with certain family law matters. The client subsequently retained another lawyer to complete one of those matters. Doyle failed to provide a copy of the client’s file to the new lawyer until almost eight months after the new lawyer first requested it.

OSB #88275
60-day suspension

Effective April 7, 2004, the disciplinary board approved a stipulation for discipline suspending Portland lawyer Kevin M. Myles for 60 days for violation of DR 1-102(A)(3) (conduct involving misrepresentation).

The charge arose out of Myles’ representation of a client in an unemployment compensation proceeding. When it appeared that the employer would offer into evidence records of a physician the employer had used to evaluate work-related injuries sustained by his client, Myles prepared an affidavit for his own signature. In this affidavit, Myles represented that he had personal knowledge of the physician’s reputation for untruthfulness. Myles did not have personal knowledge of the physician’s reputation. He did have personal knowledge of the content of the physician’s records relating to his client and had received information from other lawyers concerning their dealings with the physician in other matters. However, this information did not support Myles’ representation concerning the physician’s reputation for untruthfulness in the community.

In arriving at a sanction, the stipulation recited Myles’ substantial experience in the practice of law, that he did not act with a selfish motive, that he is of good character, that the disciplinary proceedings were significantly delayed, and that Myles withdrew his affidavit before it was considered by the administrative law judge in the unemployment proceedings.

OSB #94426
Public reprimand

On April 17, 2004, the disciplinary board approved a stipulation for discipline reprimanding Portland lawyer Daniel E. Russell for violation of DR 6-101(B) (neglect of a legal matter).

The charge arose out of Russell’s representation of the personal representative of an estate. For approximately 23 months, Russell failed to take steps to timely administer and close the estate, including failing to timely file the first and final accountings, failing to file various motions to dissolve testamentary trusts, failing to renew the personal representative’s bond, failing to timely notify heirs and creditors of the time for objecting to the final accounting and failing to timely submit the order closing the estate. During this period, Russell also failed to adequately communicate with his client regarding the status of the probate.

In arriving at a sanction, the stipulation recited that Russell has no prior disciplinary record, did not act with a dishonest or selfish motive and displayed a cooperative attitude toward the disciplinary proceedings.

OSB #96380
30-day suspension

On May 6, 2004, the supreme court issued an opinion suspending Salem lawyer Mark G. Obert for 30 days, effective July 5, 2004, for violating DR 1-102(A)(3) (engaging in conduct involving misrepresentation), DR 5-105(E) (current client conflict of interest), DR 6-101(B) (neglect of a legal matter), and DR 9-101(C)(4) (failure to promptly return client property).

In one matter, Obert undertook to represent a couple in the adoption of the woman's child from a prior relationship. Obert filed the petition for adoption, but during the next six months he did little substantively to advance his clients' interests. During those six months, Obert also failed to respond to his clients' inquiries about the status of the matter. The clients eventually contacted the bar for assistance. Thereafter, until Obert withdrew from representing the couple, any direct communications with them usually occurred only after the clients contacted the bar about Obert's failure to respond to their inquiries.

Obert withdrew from representing the couple when he discovered that a number of months earlier he had represented the child's birthfather in several unrelated matters at the same time he had been representing the couple in the adoption matter.

In another matter, Obert was appointed to represent a client in a post-conviction proceeding. The trial court had denied the petition for relief, and the client instructed Obert to appeal that decision. Obert failed to timely file the appeal, and the court dismissed it as untimely. Shortly after receiving the order of dismissal, Obert concluded that there was nothing he could do to get the appeal reinstated. He thereafter intentionally failed to inform the client about the dismissal for a number of months. The court found that, in addition to neglecting the client's legal matter, Obert's failure to disclose dismissal of the case to his client constituted a misrepresentation by omission in violation of DR 1-102(A)(3). The court dismissed an allegation that Obert violated DR 5-101(A).

In a third matter, the court found that Obert violated DR 9-101(C)(4) when he failed to provide a client with his file for over four months after the client first requested a copy of it.

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