|Oregon State Bar Bulletin MAY 2007|
Note: More than 12,900 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.
Samuel J. Nicholls
On Dec. 13, 2006, a trial panel suspended Lake Oswego lawyer Samuel J. Nicholls, effective Feb. 13, 2007. The suspension is for violating: DR 2-106(A) (collecting a clearly excessive fee); DR 2-110(A)(3) (failing to promptly refund unearned fee); DR 6-101(B) and RPC 1.3 (neglecting a legal matter); DR 9-101(C)(3) and RPC 1.15-1(d) (failing to render appropriate accounting of client funds); RPC 1.4(a) (failing to promptly comply with a client’s reasonable requests for information) and RPC 8.1(a)(2) (knowingly failing to respond in a bar investigation).
In one matter, Nicholls was retained by a client to evict a tenant from property owned by her parents. The client deposited a retainer with Nicholls. Thereafter, despite repeated requests by the client, Nicholls failed to render an accounting of the funds he had received. Nicholls also failed to pursue the matter for periods of time and failed to appear at a number of hearings.
In a second matter, Nicholls was retained by a client to obtain a deed on some property she had purchased years before. Nicholls agreed to complete the matter for a flat fee of $200, which the client paid. Thereafter, Nicholls failed to pursue the client’s legal matter. The client eventually terminated Nicholls’ services. Nicholls failed to refund the $200.
In a third matter, Nicholls was retained by a client to represent the client’s son in a petition for post-conviction relief. The client deposited a retainer with Nicholls. Thereafter, Nicholls failed to render an accounting of the funds he had received. Nicholls also failed to pursue the matter for periods of time and failed to respond to his client’s reasonable requests for information.
In all three matters, Nicholls knowingly
failed to respond to the bar’s inquiries into
Wade P. Bettis Jr.
OSB # 72025
On Dec. 29, 2006, the Oregon Supreme Court filed an opinion finding that LaGrande lawyer Wade P. Bettis, Jr. failed to provide competent representation to a client in violation of DR 6-101(A) of the Code of Professional Responsibility. The court suspended Bettis for 30 days. The suspension was effective Feb. 28, 2007.
Bettis represented two criminal defendants who were held in the local jail. He confused their identities and had one client sign a jury waiver in the other’s case. Bettis also proceeded to recommend and obtain the jury waiver without first determining whether it was in his client’s best interests to do so. He was ignorant of the factual and legal issues that might have been germane to either client’s cases at the time he presented the jury waiver. Bettis did not know the charges, had not reviewed the charging instruments, and had not obtained or reviewed discovery or conducted any investigation. The court concluded that such conduct fell below the competence standard required by DR 6-101(A).
Bettis was admitted to practice in Oregon
in 1972. He had a prior record of formal discipline.
Linda J. Wilson
On Dec. 29, 2006, the Oregon Supreme Court issued an opinion suspending Eugene lawyer Linda J. Wilson for six months, effective April 28, 2007, for violating DR 1-102(A)(3) (engaging in conduct involving misrepresentation) and DR 1-102(A)(4) (engaging in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice).
Wilson undertook to represent the respondent
in a domestic relations matter. Thereafter, in connection
with her efforts to obtain a postponement of a scheduled
trial date, Wilson made misrepresentations to the opposing
counsel. Wilson made additional misrepresentations
to the court when she responded to the opposing counsel’s
request for attorney fees incurred as a result of the
William S. LaBahn
On Jan. 9, 2007, a trial panel disbarred Eugene lawyer William S. LaBahn, effective March 12, 2007, for violating: DR 1-102(A)(3) and RPC 8.4(a)(3) (engaging in conduct involving misrepresentation); DR 1-102(A)(4) (engaging in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice); DR 6-101(B) and RPC 1.3 (neglecting a legal matter); DR 7-110(B) (communicating as to the merits of a cause with a judge before whom a proceeding is pending); RPC 1.15-1(a) (failing to maintain client funds in trust); RPC 1.15-1(c) (failing to deposit client funds in trust); RPC 5.5(a) (unlawful practice of law) and RPC 8.1(a)(2) (knowingly failing to respond in a bar investigation).
In one matter, LaBahn was retained by mother to pursue custody of her daughter. The court had previously awarded custody to father. LaBahn, without notice to father’s lawyer, presented to the court an ex parte motion and order to show cause which awarded temporary custody to mother. In connection with his appearance on the ex parte motion, LaBahn misrepresented to the court that he had given proper notice to father’s lawyer.
In a second matter, LaBahn was retained to represent a client in a dissolution of marriage proceeding. LaBahn failed to file or otherwise pursue temporary spousal support for his client. At trial LaBahn failed to introduce evidence regarding the income and value of a business that was owned by LaBahn’s client and her spouse. LaBahn also agreed to represent the client regarding a stalking order that had been obtained against her. He failed to appear at the hearing regarding that order.
Three other matters involved LaBahn’s conduct while suspended from the practice of law. For a number of weeks in July 2005, LaBahn was suspended for failing to pay his membership fees. During those weeks, LaBahn continued to practice law. When LaBahn subsequently applied for reinstatement, he falsely represented under oath that he had not engaged in the practice of law during the time he had been suspended.
Four other matters involved overdrafts of LaBahn’s lawyer trust account. In all four matters, LaBahn issued checks from his trust account at a time when he knew or should have known that the account had insufficient funds available to cover the checks.
In all nine matters, LaBahn knowingly
failed to respond to the bar’s inquiries into
A.E. Bud Bailey
On Feb. 20, 2007, the disciplinary board approved a stipulation for discipline reprimanding Vancouver lawyer A.E. Bud Bailey for violating DR 5-101(A) (self-interest conflict) and DR 5-104(A) (entering into a business transaction with a client).
Between late 1990 and late 2002, Bailey represented a corporation in various matters. In late 1999, one of the corporation’s shareholders, who was also employed by the corporation, wished to retire from his employment and sell his corporate shares.
Bailey prepared alternative draft stock purchase agreements between himself and the retiring employee and between the corporation and the retiring employee. Under the first agreement, the retiring employee’s stock would be transferred to Bailey. Under the latter agreement, the retiring employee’s stock would be transferred to the corporation. Under both agreements, the corporation was obligated to make monthly payments to the retiring employee and to pay the retiring employee’s health insurance premiums for a number of years. Bailey’s financial interest as a party to one of the agreements reasonably might have affected his professional judgment on behalf of the corporation.
Between July 2000, and July 2002, Bailey made numerous loans to the corporation. Bailey’s financial interests in those loans and his subsequent status as a creditor of the corporation might reasonably have affected his professional judgment on behalf of the corporation. Bailey’s interests in the loan transactions differed from those of the corporation, and the corporation expected Bailey to exercise his professional judgment for the protection of the corporation in the loan transactions.
With regard to the stock purchase agreements
and the loans, Bailey made some disclosures at corporate
board meetings. However, he failed to fully comply
with DR 10-101(b).
Edward N. Fadeley
On Feb. 23, 2007, the state supreme court issued an opinion suspending Creswell lawyer Edward N. Fadeley for 30 days, effective April 24, 2007, for violating DR 2-106(A) (collecting a clearly excessive fee), DR 2-110(A)(3) (failing to promptly refund unearned fees), DR 9-101(A) (failing to deposit client funds in trust) and DR 9-101(C)(3) (failing to render appropriate accounting of client funds).
In late December 2003, Fadeley undertook
to represent a client in a dissolution of marriage
proceeding. The client paid $10,000.00 to Fadeley,
which Fadeley understood to be a nonrefundable minimum
fee earned upon receipt. However, there was no written
fee agreement memorializing that understanding. Fadeley
failed to deposit the funds into his trust account.A
few weeks later, the client terminated Fadeley’s
services and requested a refund of the unearned fees.
At the time he was terminated, Fadeley had not yet
completed the client’s legal matter. Fadeley
failed to make a refund to the client and failed to
provide her with an accounting.
Michael L. Doss
On March 5, 2007, the disciplinary board approved a stipulation for discipline suspending Portland lawyer Michael L. Doss from the practice of law for 6 months, for violations of: RPC 1.3 (neglect); RPC 1.4 (failure to communicate); RPC 1.5(a) (excessive fee); RPC 1.15-1(a) (failure to prepare and maintain complete records of clients’ funds); RPC 1.15-1(c) (failure to maintain clients’ funds in trust); RPC 1.15-1(d) (failure to promptly deliver client funds) and RPC 8.1(a)(2) (failure to timely respond to requests of disciplinary authorities). The suspension was effective April 2, 2007.
The bar was notified of overdrafts on Doss’ lawyer trust account. During the investigation, it was determined that Doss had failed to prepare and maintain complete and accurate trust account records concerning certain clients’ funds and, because of those incomplete records, had withdrawn funds from trust for some clients in excess of the amount on deposit for their benefit. He also failed to promptly deliver funds that a client was entitled to receive.
In two other matters, Doss failed to take timely action concerning the clients’ matters and failed to adequately communicate with the clients. In one of those matters, the client terminated the lawyer-client relationship and requested her file and the return of the unused portion of the retainer. Doss did not deliver the file and failed to promptly return the balance of the retainer.
During the investigation of the complaints, Doss failed to provide complete and timely responses to the bar’s requests for information.
Doss was admitted to practice in Oregon
in 1993. He did not have a prior record of formal discipline.
Tonya M. Van Walleghem
On March 5, 2007, the disciplinary board approved a stipulation for discipline reprimanding Portland lawyer Tonya M. Van Walleghem for violating RPC 8.4(a)(3) (engaging in conduct involving misrepresentation).
In January 2005, Van Walleghem completed and signed an application for a family membership to an athletic club. In her application, Van Walleghem represented that she was married, listed her spouse’s name and attached a copy of a marriage certificate. At the time Van Walleghem made the representation about being married, she knew that it was false as she had obtained a dissolution of her marriage a number of years earlier. As a result of the dissolution of marriage, Van Walleghem’s former spouse was not considered a member of Van Walleghem’s family under the athletic club’s rules.