|Oregon State Bar Bulletin DECEMBER 2009|
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.
KEVIN J. RANK
On Sept. 28, 2009, the disciplinary board approved a stipulation for discipline reprimanding Salem attorney Kevin J. Rank for violation of RPC 1.3 (neglect of a legal matter).
Rank represented a client in bankruptcy. One of the assets in the bankruptcy was the client’s interest in a share of a class action lawsuit. In December 2004, an order was entered discharging the client’s debts, but the bankruptcy estate remained open for further administration for the purpose of addressing the class action lawsuit. Thereafter, the client received distributions from the lawsuit, but did not inform Rank.
Some months later, the bankruptcy trustee requested a status report on the lawsuit. Rank spoke with the client, learned of the money the client received, and discussed a course of action to pursue a settlement with the trustee for any claim the trustee had to the funds, but Rank took no action at that time. Months later, Rank agreed to write the trustee and offer a settlement, but he did not do so. For an extended period thereafter, the client did not provide Rank with information regarding money she received from the lawsuit and Rank failed to follow up with the client or the trustee. Ultimately, in September 2007, the trustee obtained an order from the bankruptcy court that compelled the client to turn over documentation regarding the distributions. Rank failed to take action in response to the order until November 2007, after his client contacted him to request that he forward the documentation to the trustee.
In reaching a sanction, the stipulation noted that Rank did not have a selfish or dishonest motive for failing to earlier produce the information to the trustee. Rank had no prior disciplinary history.
LARRY K. HOUCHIN
Form B resignation
On Oct. 7, 2009, the Oregon Supreme Court accepted the Form B resignation of Lebanon attorney Larry B. Houchin, effective immediately.
The resignation followed Houchin’s plea of guilty in Linn County Circuit Court to official misconduct, sexual abuse and harassment in September 2009. The charges arose from Houchin’s interactions with women he came in contact with in his capacity as a municipal court judge. The resignation cited RPC 8.4(a)(2) (criminal conduct adversely reflecting on a lawyer’s honesty, trustworthiness or fitness) as the rule implicated by Houchin’s conduct.
TIMOTHY J. VANAGAS
OSB # 763669
On Oct. 17, 2009, the disciplinary board approved a stipulation for discipline suspending Portland attorney Timothy J. Vanagas for 60 days for violations of: RPC 1.5(a) (excessive fee); RPC 1.15-1(a) and (c) (failure to deposit and maintain client funds in trust); RPC 1.15-1(d) (failure to account for and promptly deliver funds the client was entitled to receive) and RPC 1.16(d) (failure to return unearned funds on termination of employment) of the Rules of Professional Conduct. In addition to the suspension, Vanagas is required to make restitution of a portion of the fee paid for legal services, to participate in a law office management audit and implement recommendations from the audit.
A client retained Vanagas to represent her interests concerning a criminal matter and dissolution of marriage matter. The client paid Vanagas a flat fee in advance for the services to be performed. Although Vanagas had a written fee agreement for each matter, neither of them provided that the funds paid were earned on receipt. Vanagas failed to deposit and maintain the funds in his lawyer trust account and terminated the lawyer client relationship before he completed the services.
Although Vanagas accounted for the funds paid for the dissolution matter and returned a portion of those funds to the client, he neither accounted for nor returned any of the funds for the criminal matter.
Vanagas was admitted to practice in 1979. He had a prior record of discipline. The suspension was effective Oct. 20, 2009.
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, P.O. Box 231935, Tigard, OR 97281.
Reciprocity: Charles Edward Adams, Jesse Alexander Purvis Baker, Nicole Margaret Brodie, Peter Landon Buck, Alexander Frederick Frix, Richard Lee Gierth, Bree Healani Kame’enui-Ramirez, Gary Michael Kirk, Jennifer Rust Murray, Eric Allen Norman, Heather J Pearce, Sarah Smyth McIntosh, Steven Alan Stolle, Dustin Trowbridge Till, Liberty Waters, Steven George Wraith and Charles Todd Wright.
House Counsel: Clarence Anderson Nesbitt, Jr., and Mark Tanguay Raymond Pilon.
Notice of Reinstatement Application
The following attorneys have filed an application for reinstatement as an active member of the Oregon State Bar pursuant to Rule of Procedure (BR) 8.1:
Virginia Bond, #893938. Ms. Bond transferred to inactive status in Oregon in 1991 because she was employed as a deputy prosecuting attorney in Caldwell, Idaho. In January of 2009, she opened a private practice in Payette, Idaho, on the Oregon/Idaho border. She anticipates this practice will require her active membership in Oregon.
Sohaye Lee, #984387. Since voluntarily resigning her bar membership in 1999, Ms. Lee has been employed as a public defender, from 1999 to 2005 in Seattle, and currently as a staff attorney with the Bronx Defenders Office in New York. She has no plans to return to Oregon.
M. Maila Putnam, #811418. Inactive in Oregon since 1993, this California resident has maintained a solo practice in Hermosa Beach since 1992. (Ms. Putman is also a member of the Texas and Washington Bars.) She has no immediate plans to return to Oregon to practice law following her reinstatement.
Janine Curtis, #824798. Ms. Curtis, presently of Tucson, Ariz., transferred to inactive status in Oregon in 2003. She has been a staff attorney with the Arizona Tohono O’odham Advocate Program since May of 2006. She has no plans to return to Oregon in the near future.
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 whether the resumption of the practice of law in this state by the 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 OSB Regulatory Services Division, P.O. Box 231935, Tigard, OR 97281; phone: (503) 620-0222, or toll-free in Oregon, (800) 452-8260), ext. 343.