Note: More than 12,560 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.
DAWNA F. SCOTT
On Jan. 30, 2006, the disciplinary board approved a stipulation for discipline suspending Dawna F. Scott from the practice of law for 6 months for violations of DR 9-101(A) (failing to maintain client funds in trust); DR 9-101(C)(3) (failing to maintain complete records and account for client funds) and DR 1-103(C) (failing to cooperate). The suspension was effective Feb. 2, 2006. At such time as Scott is eligible to seek reinstatement, pursuant to the terms of the stipulation, she is required to make a formal application under BR 8.1.
Scott undertook to represent a client in connection with civil claims against his former employer. Following entry of judgment against the defendant, Scott recovered funds to satisfy the judgment and deposited those funds into her lawyer trust account. Scott also filed a notice of claim of attorney lien for attorney’s fees and costs incurred on behalf of the client, which included charges for court reporting services for depositions in the client’s case.
At the time Scott filed the notice of attorney lien, she had not paid the court reporter’s invoices or advanced those costs for the client. The client authorized Scott to apply the funds held in her trust account to satisfy her attorney lien, which included payment for the court reporter’s invoices. Thereafter, Scott disbursed funds to herself from her lawyer trust account to satisfy her attorney lien. Scott did not pay any of the funds to the court reporter. By withdrawing the client’s funds from her lawyer trust account for the court reporter’s invoices as reimbursement for costs advanced when she had not advanced or paid the amount, Scott disbursed funds to herself that she was not entitled to receive and failed to maintain client funds in her lawyer trust account.
Scott also failed to maintain complete and accurate records, including bank and other records, reflecting her deposit and disbursement of other clients’ funds coming into her possession.
During the formal proceeding, the bar asked Scott to propose dates for her deposition. A date was selected and notice thereof was given to Scott. The bar also served a request for production of documents on Scott. Scott twice failed to appear for her deposition, the last occasion leaving an early morning message that she was ill and could not appear. The day scheduled for the deposition, the bar located Scott at her place of employment. Scott also repeatedly failed to produce all documents requested by the bar.
Scott was admitted to practice in Oregon in 1997. She had a prior record of discipline.
LEANNE M. BOWKER
On Feb. 9, 2006, the disciplinary board approved a stipulation suspending Portland lawyer Leanne M. Bowker for 30 days, effective April 1, 2006, for violating DR 5-105(E) (current client conflict of interest), ORPC 1.9(a) (former client conflict of interest) and ORPC 1.9(c)(2) (revealing information relating to the representation of a former client).
In the summer of 2004, Bowker prepared a promissory note and trust deed regarding a potential loan. Bowker believed that she was representing only the lender in the loan transaction. However, based upon Bowker’s prior attorney-client relationship with the borrowers, meetings she had had with the borrowers regarding the loan and other circumstances, the borrowers had a reasonable expectation that Bowker was representing them in the loan matter.
In the summer of 2005, Bowker, without obtaining informed consent confirmed in writing from both the lender and the borrowers undertook to represent the lender in collecting the funds she had lent to the borrowers the prior summer. In connection with her representation of the lender in the collection matter, Bowker, at the lender’s instruction, and despite objection by the borrowers, sent a copy of the promissory note and trust deed she had prepared in 2004 to another person.
OSCAR R. NEALY
Effective March 10, 2006, the disciplinary board approved a stipulation for discipline suspending Grants Pass attorney Oscar Nealy for four months for violations of DR 2-106(A) (charging an illegal fee), DR 6-101(B) and RPC 1.3 (neglect of a legal matter), DR 9-101(C)(3) (failing to account for client property) and DR 9-101(C)(4) (failing to promptly provide client property).
The charges arose in connection with Nealy’s handling of three client matters. In the first matter, Nealy failed to take substantive action on his client’s personal injury claim for a significant period and failed to notify his client prior to the expiration of the statute of limitations that he would not be pursuing the claim.
In the second matter, Nealy was unable to appropriately account for funds received on behalf of a criminal defense client or timely return the client’s remaining funds.
In the third matter, Nealy was appointed with his nephew as the co-personal representative of his deceased brother’s estate, and acted as the attorney for the personal representatives. Following initial filings, Nealy did not take any substantive action on the probate for more than a year. When he thereafter filed the final accounting and decree of final distribution, he failed to take the remaining steps of making the distributions, obtaining receipts and obtaining an order closing the probate for more than another year. In the interim, the court dismissed the probate for lack of prosecution.
While the probate was pending, Nealy took periodic payments for his fees from estate funds without petitioning the court for approval as required by statute.
The stipulation noted that Nealy has twice been publicly reprimanded for unrelated violations and has also received letters of admonition over the course of his practice for neglect violations similar to those acknowledged in these matters. Nealy has substantial experience in the practice of law, having been admitted in 1968.
COURTNEY M. O’CONNOR
Effective March 7, 2006, the Oregon Supreme Court approved a stipulation for discipline suspending Courtney O’Connor of Portland for 1 year for violations of RPC 8.4(a)(2) (criminal conduct reflecting adversely on the lawyer’s honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer) and RPC 8.4(a)(3) (conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation that reflects adversely on the lawyer’s fitness to practice law).
Weeks after receiving her bar exam results, O’Connor was offered a deputy district attorney position in southern Oregon, conditioned upon her passing a pre-employment drug test. Concerned that her urine samples could contain trace amounts of THC from prior marijuana use, O’Connor surreptitiously diluted two of the three urine samples she provided to a testing lab and drank a body “detoxifier” before providing the third, thereby altering the results. When confronted by her prospective employer about the test results and her possible use of controlled substances, O’Connor initially denied drug use, falsely blaming the test results on low body temperature. She then recanted and admitted having recently smoked marijuana when asked by the district attorney to submit to an observed test.
The stipulation acknowledged O’Connor’s inexperience and her cooperation in the bar proceedings.
Effective March 2, 2006, the disciplinary board approved a stipulation for discipline suspending Portland attorney Bobby Arsanjani from the practice of law for 30 days for violation of RPC 3.1 (knowingly disobeying an obligation under the rules of a tribunal).
The violation arose in connection with Arsanjani’s violation of a restraining order prohibiting contact with his (then) wife. The court found Arsanjani in willful contempt of the restraining order, revoking Arsanjani’s deferred sentencing agreement, entering a judgment finding Arsanjani guilty of assault and placing him on formal probation.
The stipulation recited that the accused acted with a selfish motive and that his conduct burdened a vulnerable judicial system. In mitigation, Arsanjani had no prior record of discipline, did not act dishonestly and demonstrated a cooperative attitude toward the disciplinary proceedings. The sanction also reflected that Arsanjani had criminal penalties imposed upon him in addition to the disciplinary sanction.
JAMES J. KOLSTOE
On March 1, 2006, the disciplinary board approved a stipulation for discipline suspending James J. Kolstoe from the practice of law for 60 days for violation of: DR 1-102(A)(3) (misrepresentation); DR 2-110(B)(3) (failure to withdraw); DR 5-101(A) (lawyer self interest conflict) and DR 6-101(B) (neglect of a legal matter). The suspension was effective on March 30, 2006.
The court appointed Kolstoe to represent a person on appeal of a judgment of civil commitment. Kolstoe filed the notice of appeal but failed to file the opening brief or to seek an extension of time to do so, and failed to respond to the court’s notice of its intent to dismiss the appeal. The court dismissed the appeal and sent notice thereof to Kolstoe. Kolstoe did not provide the client with copies of the court’s notices, orders and judgment dismissing the appeal. He took no action to obtain relief from default to reinstate the appeal. Kolstoe failed to notify his client that the court had dismissed the appeal and that he had not taken and was not taking action to reinstate it.
About three months after the appeal had been dismissed, Kolstoe met with the client. Kolstoe told the client that the appeal had been dismissed; that the court would allow him to file the opening brief late; and that he would take action to reinstate the appeal and file the opening brief. After that time, he took no action and did not tell his client that he had taken and was taking no action on his case. Kolstoe knowingly failed to disclose material information to the client concerning the status and his lack of action concerning the appeal. He led the client to believe that the appeal was pending.
Kolstoe continued employment as the client’s lawyer when the exercise of his professional judgment on behalf of the client was likely to be or may reasonably have been affected by his own financial or personal interests and failed to obtain the client’s consent to his representation, after full disclosure. He also failed to withdraw when his physical condition rendered it unreasonably difficult to carry out the employment effectively.
Kolstoe was admitted to practice in Oregon in 1985. He had no prior record of discipline.