Note: More than 12,500 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.
ROBERT E. BOTTA
On Jan. 10, 2005, the disciplinary board approved a stipulation for discipline, effective on Mar. 11, 2005, suspending Salem lawyer Robert E. Botta for 90 days for violating: DR 1-102(A)(3) (conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation); DR 1-102(A)(4) (conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice) and DR 7-102(A)(5) (knowingly make a false statement of law or fact).
In one matter Botta was appointed to represent a client in criminal matters. The client entered a guilty plea to some of the charges pending against him. At the time of the guilty plea, the court scheduled a sentencing hearing and directed that the client be evaluated by a psychiatrist before any sentence would be imposed. At the sentencing hearing, Botta represented to the court that he had contacted the psychiatrist, but that an evaluation of the client had not been completed because the psychiatrist had not timely responded to Botta’s request for an evaluation. Botta knew this representation was false as he had not yet contacted the psychiatrist. Based upon Botta’s false representation, the court rescheduled the sentencing hearing.
In another matter, Botta was retained
by a client in a probation violation case. The client
entered a plea denying the violation, and the court
set the matter for a hearing. On the day before the
scheduled hearing, the client appeared at Botta’s office
and informed Botta that he had not yet contacted witnesses
for the hearing. The client requested that Botta try
and get the hearing rescheduled. Botta contacted the
court and falsely represented that the client could
not attend the hearing due to inclement weather. Based
upon Botta’s false representation, the court rescheduled
ERIC M. CUMFER
On Feb. 1, 2005, the Oregon Supreme Court approved a stipulation for discipline suspending Eric M. Cumfer for 2 years for violations of: DR 1-102(A)(4) (conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice); DR 1-103(C) (failure to cooperate with disciplinary authorities); DR 2-110(B)(2) (failure to withdraw); DR 5-101(A) (lawyer self-interest conflict); DR 6-101(B) (neglect) and DR 9-101(C)(4) (failure to promptly deliver client property). The suspension was effective Feb. 4, 2005.
Cumfer represented several incarcerated persons on appeal of their criminal and post-conviction relief cases. Cumfer failed to communicate with his clients and failed to take action to pursue their appellate remedies. In one matter, after the court of appeals had affirmed the client’s conviction, the state proposed to stipulate to a reversal of the client’s conviction and remand of the case to the trial court. Cumfer failed to communicate the proposal to his client and otherwise failed to pursue the issue. In addition, Cumfer failed to cooperate with the disciplinary authorities in the investigation of the complaints.
Cumfer was admitted to practice in Oregon
in 1994. He had no prior record of discipline.
RONALD D. SCHENCK
Pursuant to a stipulation for discipline approved by the disciplinary board on Dec. 9, 2004, Wallowa lawyer, Ronald D. Schenck, was publicly reprimanded for violation of DR 7-101(A)(3) (intentionally prejudicing or damaging a client).
The charges arose out of Schenck’s representation of a client in litigation to recover for personal injuries sustained at a local business. The case was tried in Wallowa County Circuit Court and resulted in a jury verdict in favor of the defendant. Within days after the trial, an article describing the trial was published in a local newspaper. In the same issue of this newspaper the following letter from Schenck was published: "Last week I represented the plaintiff in a personal injury lawsuit in Circuit Court in Enterprise. I apologize to the court and, especially to the jury, for the performance of my client on the witness stand. I was surprised, stunned and embarrassed by it. Unfortunately, I could not ethically walk out. In over 40 years of practice, I have never been so embarrassed." This letter cast Schenck’s client in a negative light and was not required to be made under any provision of law or procedure.
In arriving at a sanction, the stipulation
recited Schenck’s prior record of disciplinary offenses
(two reprimands) and his substantial experience in
the practice of law. In mitigation, the disciplinary
board considered Schenck’s cooperative attitude toward
the disciplinary proceedings and the remoteness of
the prior disciplinary offenses.
MARK A. AMES
On March 8, 2005, the Oregon Supreme Court approved the stipulation for discipline suspending Mark A. Ames for two years for violations of: DR 1-103(C) (failure to cooperate with disciplinary authorities); DR 6-101(B) (neglect of a legal matter); DR 7-101(A)(2) (failure to carry out a contract of employment); DR 9-101(C)(3) (failure to account for client property) and DR 9-101(C)(4) (failure to promptly provide client property). The suspension was effective March 8, 2005.
Ames was retained by several clients
to assist them in domestic relations, personal injury
and litigation matters. Ames failed to take significant
action in many of the matters and failed to communicate
with his clients regarding their cases. When some of
the clients retained other counsel to assist them,
they had difficulty obtaining file materials from Ames.
When these matters were brought to the bar’s attention,
Ames initially failed to respond or cooperate with
the investigation by disciplinary authorities. Ames
had no prior record of discipline. The stipulation
recited that Ames did not act with a dishonest or selfish
motive, and was experiencing personal or emotional
problems at the time of the violations.
DAVID L. RICH
On March 7, 2005, the disciplinary board approved a stipulation for discipline reprimanding Hillsboro lawyer David L. Rich for violating DR 1-102(A)(4) (conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice) and DR 6-101(B) (neglect of a legal matter).
Rich undertook to represent a client in a parenting matter. At the time a show cause hearing had been scheduled to determine whether his client’s parenting and custody rights should be suspended. Rich served pleadings on the opposing party, but failed to file them with the court. Based upon the opposing party’s motion, the show cause hearing was postponed.
Rich knew that the show cause hearing had been postponed. Thereafter, Rich failed to pursue his client’s legal matter in that, among other things, he failed to determine the new date for the show cause hearing. Rich did not appear at the rescheduled show cause hearing, and the matter had to be postponed again.
Shortly after the hearing was postponed
again Rich learned that the pleadings he had previously
prepared had not been filed with the court, and that
the show cause hearing had been postponed. Thereafter,
Rich failed to pursue his client’s legal matter in
that he failed to file the pleadings with the court
and failed to determine the new date for the show cause
hearing. Rich did not appear at the rescheduled show
cause hearing, and his client proceeded pro se.
JUSTUS BUCK HUMPHREYS
Effective March 8, 2005, the Oregon Supreme Court disbarred Eugene lawyer Justus Buck Humphreys, pursuant to BR 3.5 (reciprocal discipline). The State of Texas previously imposed the same sanction and the State of Iowa previously revoked Humphreys’ license.
In August 1991, Humphreys was convicted of four counts of felony tax evasion and one count of misdemeanor willful filing of a false tax return.
In 1994, based upon the conviction, the Supreme Court of Texas disbarred Humphreys for violating Texas Rule of Discipline 8.05. In 1994, based upon the conviction and other matters, the Supreme Court of Iowa revoked Humphreys license to practice law for violating Iowa Rules of Professional Conduct DR 1-102(A)(3), DR 1-102(A)(4), DR 5-101(A), DR 5-103(A), DR 5-104(A), and DR 9-102(A).
The tax convictions and the discipline
in Texas and Iowa were not brought to the attention
of the Oregon State Bar until 2004, and the reciprocal
discipline proceeding followed thereafter.
Effective Mar. 9, 2005, Stephen Trukositz was suspended for one year for violation of DR 1-102(A)(3) (dishonesty or misrepresentation); DR 5-101(A) (lawyer self-interest conflict); DR 6-101(A) (failure to provide competent representation); and DR 6-101(B) (neglect of a legal matter).
Trukositz agreed to represent a client concerning a personal injury matter. Over a period of about two (2) years, Trukositz took no substantive action on the matter. The client contacted Trukositz on numerous occasions. Trukositz represented to the client that he was working on her case; that he had contacted the other driver’s insurance company; and that he was waiting for the other driver’s insurance company to get back to him with an offer. These representations were not true. After the client’s personal injury claim became barred by the statute of limitations, Trukositz told the client that he would notify his insurance company; he would give his insurance company the client’s name, address and telephone number; and his insurance company would contact her and pay her damages. Trukositz did not provide his insurance company with information identifying his client or tell its representatives what he told his client the insurance company would do. He also failed to tell his client that his insurance company would not be contacting her to pay her damages.
Trukositz was admitted to practice in Oregon in 1976. He had a prior record of discipline. At the time of Trukositz’s suspension, he was an inactive member of the bar.