|Oregon State Bar Bulletin FEBRUARY/MARCH 2008
Note: More than 13,000 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.
On Dec. 13, 2007, the disciplinary board approved a stipulation for discipline reprimanding Redmond attorney Edward Fitch for violation of RPC 8.4(a)(4), conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice.
Fitch was retained to pursue a medical provider’s claim against a former patient for unpaid medical expenses. The former patient filed a motion to dismiss the claim on the ground that another action was pending between the parties that involved the same claim. Prior to the hearing on the motion, Fitch acknowledged the other action and agreed to dismiss the case. Counsel for the former patient told Fitch that his client was entitled to the award of costs, including the first appearance and prevailing party fee. Fitch acknowledged that the former patient was entitled to the award of the first appearance fee, but disputed the entitlement to the prevailing party fee.
Fitch sent a proposed stipulated judgment to the former patient’s counsel. The document provided for the dismissal of the medical provider’s claim and the award to the patient of his costs consisting only of the first appearance fee. The former patient’s counsel notified Fitch that he would not sign and objected to the proposed stipulated judgment because it failed to provide for the award of a prevailing party fee. Thereafter, Fitch modified the proposed stipulated judgment by deleting the place for signature of the former patient’s counsel, but failed to adequately review the modified document and the transmittal to the court to delete words that expressed that it was stipulated. He did not tell the court that opposing counsel expressly objected to the form of the proposed judgment or that it was not a stipulated judgment. The judge relied on the representation that it was a stipulated proposed judgment and signed it. As a result, the hearing scheduled for the former patient’s motion to dismiss the case was cancelled. Fitch admitted that his conduct constituted conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice.
Fitch was admitted to practice in 1978. He had no prior record of discipline.
THOMAS JOHN HASTERT
Grass Valley, Calif.
On Oct. 18, 2007, the Oregon Supreme Court filed an order of reciprocal discipline publicly reprimanding Grass Valley, Calif., lawyer Thomas John Hastert for violation of Rule 1-300(A) of the California Rules of Professional Conduct when he failed to supervise the conduct of a non-lawyer legal assistant concerning certain collections work. The legal assistant’s conduct constituted the practice of law. Hastert thereby aided in the unauthorized practice of law.
Hastert was admitted to practice in California in 1989 and in Oregon in 1991. He had no prior record of discipline. Hastert has been suspended in Oregon since 2002, for failure to pay bar dues and failure to comply with MCLE requirements.
SHARON L. HOCKETT
Form B resignation
Effective Dec. 24, 2007, the Oregon Supreme Court accepted the Form B resignation of former Roseburg lawyer Sharon L. Hockett. At the time of the resignation, a formal disciplinary proceeding was pending against Hockett alleging violations of DR 1-102(A)(2) (criminal conduct reflecting on a lawyer’s honesty or fitness to practice law) for failure to file and pay federal and state income taxes; DR 9-101(A) (maintaining personal funds in trust, and failure to withdraw personal funds from trust); DR 9-101(C)(3) (failure to prepare and maintain complete and accurate records of clients’ funds); DR 1-102(A)(3) (dishonesty or misrepresentation) and RPC 8.1(a) (making false statements of material fact and failing to disclose facts necessary to correct misapprehensions known to Hockett in connection with a disciplinary matter).
Hockett was admitted to practice in Oregon in 1981. She had a prior record of discipline. The resignation document recited that Hockett’s clients’ files and records will be placed in the custody of Eugene lawyer Kent Anderson.
WILLIAM B. KNOWLES
Form B resignation
On Dec. 26, 2007, the Oregon Supreme Court accepted the Form B resignation of former Seattle attorney William B. Knowles. At the time of the resignation, a formal disciplinary proceeding alleging violations of ORS 9.527(2) and DR 1-102(A)(2) was authorized against Knowles based upon his conviction in the district of Oregon for crimes committed in July 2004. Knowles had been suspended from active bar membership in Oregon since July 2006. In his resignation, Knowles reported that he had no files involving Oregon clients.
Knowles was a Washington attorney, admitted reciprocally in Oregon. He was also a member of the California State Bar. Knowles has resigned his membership in Washington and California as well.
On Dec. 13, 2007, the disciplinary board approved a stipulation for discipline reprimanding Hillsboro attorney Thomas MacNair for violation of RPC 1.3 (neglect) and RPC 1.4(a) (failure to communicate with client).
MacNair represented a client concerning a criminal matter. The client was convicted of crimes charged and sentenced to a prison term. The court expressly directed that the client be given credit for certain time served prior to sentencing, but failed to include this provision in the judgment of conviction. After learning from corrections personnel that he would not be given credit for time served, the client sent a letter to MacNair asking that he contact the district attorney’s office and the court to correct the error. MacNair did not respond or take other action. The client then filed a motion asking the court to correct the judgment. The judge determined that he could not proceed at that time and referred the matter to MacNair and the district attorney’s office. The district attorney’s office submitted a corrected judgment to the court and a copy to MacNair. MacNair did not send his client a copy of the corrected judgment and did not communicate with his client. MacNair admitted that his conduct constituted neglect of a legal matter and failure to communicate with his client.
MacNair was admitted to practice in 1996. He had a prior record of discipline.
MICHAEL JAMES PETERSEN
On Jan. 8, 2008, the disciplinary board approved a stipulation for discipline reprimanding Portland attorney Michael James Petersen for violations of RPC 1.1 (failure to provide competent representation) and RPC 1.16(a)(1) (accepting employment and failure to withdraw when employment will result in violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct).
Petersen represented a client concerning a civil matter in which he negotiated a settlement. Thereafter, Petersen filed a lawsuit on behalf of the client asserting the same and related claims against the same adverse party. Throughout the representation, Petersen failed to adequately investigate the situation; failed to know, understand and comply with relevant legal doctrines and procedures; and failed to adequately address factual and legal issues in the trial and appellate courts.
Petersen was admitted to practice in 1982. He had no prior record of discipline.
DALE G. RASMUSSEN
On Dec. 11, 2007, the disciplinary board approved a stipulation for discipline suspending Portland lawyer Dale G. Rasmussen for 120 days effective December 12, 2007, for violation of DR 1-102(A)(3) (conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation) and DR 7-102(A)(7) (counseling or assisting a client in conduct the lawyer knows to be illegal or fraudulent).
In 2000, Rasmussen was counsel for one of Enron Corp.’s ("Enron") business units located in Portland. Enron sought to sell an interest in a power plant development project. In order to meet its earnings target and comply with relevant accounting rules, Enron sought to separate the transaction into two parts (sale of turbine generator and sale of construction agreement) so that it could immediately recognize revenue on the sale of the turbine generator. The purchasers agreed to the separation but did not want to assume any risk that the construction agreement portion of the transaction would not occur. In response to the purchaser’s concerns, and in order to maintain its ability to immediately recognize revenue, Enron asked a partnership controlled by its chief financial officer to sell a put option to the purchaser. Under the put option the purchaser could require the partnership to purchase the turbine generator from it if the construction agreement portion of the transaction, which was set to close two weeks after the sale of the turbine generator, did not occur. Enron also entered into an undocumented, oral agreement with the partnership that Enron would purchase the turbine generator from the partnership if the put option was exercised.
Rasmussen negotiated and drafted the agreements referenced above. Rasmussen was aware of the put option and the undocumented side agreement. Rasmussen knew that if the undocumented side agreement between Enron and the partnership was a documented and enforceable agreement, then Enron could not immediately recognize revenue from the sale of the turbine generator.
In connection with a subsequent audit of Enron by its independent auditor, Rasmussen received an e-mail from an Enron accountant expressing concern that documents regarding the put option were included among the documents concerning the sale of the turbine generator and the construction agreement, and therefore might cause the independent auditor to question Enron’s decision to immediately recognize revenue from the turbine generator sale. In response to that e-mail, Rasmussen separated documents regarding the put option. He also asked an Enron subsidiary, who was involved in the underlying transactions, to return to him or destroy all documentation regarding the put option.
T. MICHAEL RYAN
Effective Jan. 1, 2008, the Oregon Supreme Court approved a stipulation for discipline suspending Prineville attorney, T. Michael Ryan, for violations of: RPC 1.3 (neglect); RPC 1.4(a) (failure to keep a client reasonably informed); RPC 1.4(b) (failure to explain a matter to client); RPC 1.5 (charging or collecting a clearly excessive fee); RPC 1.15-1(a) (failure to hold property of a client separate from the lawyer’s own property); RPC 1.15-1(c) (failure to deposit client funds in trust); RPC 8.4(a)(4) (conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice); RPC 8.1(a)(1) (false statement in connection with a disciplinary matter) and RPC 8.1(a)(2) (failure to respond to a disciplinary authority).
Ryan represented a client in a domestic relations matter to defend a motion to modify custody and parenting time and to bring a contempt action. The client paid for both services in installments, which Ryan deposited into his general office account before he had fully earned the installments.
Ryan did not appear for the modification hearing and, after it was rescheduled, failed to appear for two separate status conferences. He then failed to prepare the final modification order, despite being so instructed by the court and multiple inquiries from his client.
At no point did Ryan discuss with his client the possible effect bringing a contempt action might have on the modification — or the effect that resolving the modification might have on the contempt action. Ryan took no action on the contempt action and determined not to pursue it. However, he did not so advise his client or refund the $250 fee he received from the client until after a bar complaint was made.
When the client complained to the bar, Ryan did not comply with the bar’s requests for information, so the matter was referred to the LPRC for further investigation. Ryan provided to the LPRC computer records, including a billing statement Ryan had generated by approximating the past services he had performed and "guessing" at the dates and duration of his services. Many of the entries and calculations were incorrect or inaccurate. Ryan intended the billing statement to demonstrate that he had fully earned the funds he received from the client. However, Ryan failed to inform the investigator that the billing statement was not created contemporaneously with those services.
In arriving at the sanction, the stipulation recited several aggravating factors including prior discipline, multiple offenses and experience in the practice of law. In mitigation, the stipulation acknowledged personal or emotional problems and remorse.
MATTHEW A. CHANCELLOR
On Jan. 23, 2008, the Oregon Supreme Court approved a stipulation for discipline suspending former Medford attorney Matthew A. Chancellor for one year for violations of: RPC 1.7(a)(2) (self interest conflict); RPC 3.4(c) (failure to obey orders of the court); RPC 8.4(a)(2) (criminal conduct reflecting adversely on a lawyer’s fitness to practice); RPC 8.4(a)(3) (misrepresentation); RPC 8.4(a)(4) (conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice) and ORS 9.527(1) (commission of an act or course of conduct that would result in the denial of admission to the bar).
Chancellor, at the time a deputy district attorney, engaged in sexual conduct with a victim of a sexual assault case that he had been assigned to handle. When Chancellor was questioned by the district attorney and the police investigator about his conduct with the victim of the sexual assault case, Chancellor made false statements and failed to disclose other material information to each of them.
Chancellor also engaged in criminal conduct resulting in his convictions by negotiated pleas for DUII (2 counts) and disorderly conduct. Chancellor also violated the terms of his probation in three counties by consuming alcohol and violating the law.
Chancellor was admitted to practice in 1997. He had no prior record of discipline. At such time that Chancellor seeks reinstatement as an active member of the bar, he will be required to make a formal application pursuant to BR 8.1, which requires, among other provisions, that the applicant establish good moral character and general fitness to practice law and that his resumption of the practice of law in this state will not be detrimental to the administration of justice or the public interest.
MICHAEL L. DOSS
Form B resignation
Effective Jan. 23, 2008, the Oregon Supreme Court accepted the Form B resignation of Portland lawyer Michael L. Doss. At the time of the resignation, a formal disciplinary proceeding was pending against Doss alleging violations of various disciplinary rules, including: RPC 1.3 (neglect of a legal matter); RPC 1.4(a) (failure to keep a client reasonably informed and failure to promptly comply with requests for information); RPC 1.4(b) (failure to explain a matter to the extent reasonably necessary to permit the client to make informed decisions); RPC 1.15-1(d) (failure to promptly deliver client property); RPC 1.16-1(d) (improper withdrawal) and RPC 8.1(a) (failure to comply with lawful requests of the disciplinary authority. At the time of the resignation, the state professional responsibility board had also authorized a proceeding for the imposition of reciprocal discipline pursuant to BR 3.5, based on an order disbarring Doss in Washington for violation of the Washington Rules of Professional Conduct.
Doss was admitted to practice in Oregon in 1993. He had a prior record of discipline. The resignation recited that Doss’ clients’ files and records have been placed in the custody of Portland lawyer Cary Novotny.
MICHAEL R. GENNA
Form B resignation
Effective Jan. 31, 2008, the Oregon Supreme Court accepted the Form B resignation of Cottage Grove lawyer Michael R. Genna. At the time of the resignation, a formal disciplinary proceeding was pending against Genna for his alleged violations of various disciplinary rules, including: RPC 1.1 (failure to provide competent representation); RPC 1.3 (neglect); RPC 1.4(a) (failure to keep clients reasonably informed); RPC 1.4(b) (failure to explain a matter to the extent reasonably necessary to permit clients to make informed decisions); RPC 1.5 (excessive fees); RPC 1.15-1(a) (failure to prepare and maintain complete records of clients’ funds); RPC 1.15-1(c) (failure to deposit and maintain clients’ funds in trust); RPC 1.15-1(d) (failure to promptly return unearned clients’ funds and to account for funds); RPC 1.16(a)(1) (failure to withdraw); RPC 1.16(d) (improper withdrawal); RPC 8.1(a) (failure to comply with lawful requests of the disciplinary authority) and RPC 8.4(a)(4) (conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice).
Genna was admitted to practice in Oregon in 1972. He had a prior record of discipline. The resignation recited that Genna’s clients’ files and records have been or will be placed in the custody of Cottage Grove lawyer James L. Oakey.
Reciprocity applicants listed
The following have applied for admission under the reciprocity, house counsel or law teacher rules. The Board of Bar Examiners requests that members examine this list and bring to the board’s attention in a signed letter any information that might influence the board in considering the moral character of any applicant for admission. Send correspondence to Admissions Director, Oregon State Board of Bar Examiners, 16037 S.W. Upper Boones Ferry Rd., P.O. Box 231935, Tigard, OR 97281-1935.
Reciprocity: Christopher Luke Childers; Johnny Lee Davis; Buster Joe Driscoll; Laurie Kathryn Friedl; Sue Gwynedd Griffith; Earle David Lees, III; Richard E. (Emile) Peyser; John Frank Pierce; Sarah Catherine Danielle Quade; Ralph Glenn Phillips; Brian Robert Ragen; Alexandra Kennard Smith and David Alan Weibel.
House Counsel: Jo Saxe Levy and Ana Paula Dutra Nicacio.
Notice of reinstatement applications
The following attorneys have filed applications for reinstatement as active members of the Oregon State Bar pursuant to Rule of Procedure (BR) 8.1.
Shawn W. Gordon of Lacy, Wash., #923157. Shawn W. Gordon is an Army major, serving as a brigade judge advocate. He transferred to inactive status in 2002, because he was being deployed overseas. Maj. Gordon will be returning from Iraq this fall, and plans to continue his career with the Army after his reinstatement.
Michael A. Hudson of Renton, Wash., #784490. Hudson transferred to inactive status in 1991, because his employment did not require active bar membership. He has been employed by Qwest Communications for over 20 years. He has no specific plans to practice law after reinstatement.
The Rules of Procedure require the Board of Governors to conduct an investigation of BR 8.1 reinstatement applications to determine whether applicants possess the good moral character and general fitness to practice law, and that the resumption of the practice of law in this state by these applicants will not be detrimental to the administration of justice or the public interest. Any person with information relevant to these applications is asked to contact promptly the Regulatory Services Division at the Oregon State Bar, P.O. Box 231935, Tigard, OR 97281-1935, (503) 620-0222, or (800) 452-8260, ext. 343.