Oregon State Bar Bulletin — JULY 2014

Bar Actions - Discipline

Note: More than 14,800 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.

OSB #001490
Boise, Idaho
1-year suspension

Effective May 29, 2014, the Oregon Supreme Court approved a stipulation for discipline suspending Boise, Idaho, lawyer Mitchell Barker for one year for violations of the following: RPC 1.3 (neglect)
RPC 1.4(a) (failure to keep a client informed)
RPC 1.4(b) (failure to explain a matter to the extent necessary to permit the client to make informed decisions)
RPC 1.7(a)(2) (personal conflict of interest)
RPC 5.5(a) (unlawful practice of law)
and ORS 9.160 (practicing law or holding oneself out as able to practice law in Oregon while not an active member of the bar).

Barker was suspended from practice in Oregon for more than a year beginning in June 2008. Barker sent a letter on a client&rsquo
s behalf to the district attorney handling her case and requested discovery in the case, at a time when he was not an active member of the Oregon State Bar. Barker did not notify the client or the district attorney that he was not authorized to practice law in Oregon.

In a separate matter involving the same client, Barker allowed multiple judgments to be taken against the client in a contested probate matter, largely due to Barker&rsquo
s inaction. The client was led to believe that Barker would be responsible for paying one or more of the judgments but he never did so. Barker did, however, continue to represent the client in the probate without obtaining her informed consent, confirmed in writing.

OSB #082466
30-day suspension

Effective June 7, 2014, the disciplinary board approved a stipulation for discipline suspending Portland attorney Paige De Muniz for 30 days for violation of RPC 8.4(a)(3) (misrepresentation).

In April 2013, De Muniz paid for two hours of parking at a private parking garage managed by Northwest Parking Control (NPC) and placed the time-stamped receipt on the dash of her vehicle. De Muniz was issued a parking fee notice by the lot attendant when she did not move her vehicle before the expiration of the time stamped on her receipt.

Due to the contents of the fee notice, including the questionable contact information and website for NPC, De Muniz was skeptical about its authenticity. In addition, De Muniz was doubtful that NPC had the authority to issue her a parking fee notice. However, rather than investigate the matter fully, De Muniz made obvious alterations to the times on the time-stamped receipt and sent it to NPC with a note arguing that the time had not expired on her parking time and that the parking fee notice was invalidly issued. De Muniz put her name and phone number on the note she sent to NPC. She did not pay the parking fee notice at that time.

In May 2013, NPC denied De Muniz&rsquo
s appeal of the parking fee notice and sent her a copy of the lot attendant&rsquo
s dash photo of the parking receipt (i.e., prior to alteration). Approximately a week after NPC mailed the letter, De Muniz voluntarily paid the parking fee notice, roughly a month before bar involvement.

Although De Muniz engaged in a misrepresentation and has substantial experience in the practice of law, the stipulation reflects that her conduct was mitigated by her absence of prior discipline, cooperation in the disciplinary proceedings, a good faith effort to rectify the consequences of her misconduct, good character and reputation, and remorse.

OSB #962708
90-day suspension, all but 30 days stayed, pending 2-year probation

Effective July 1, 2014, the disciplinary board suspended Medford lawyer John P. Eckrem for 90 days, with all but 30 days stayed pending the successful completion of a two-year probation. Eckrem was found to have violated RPC 1.5(a) (clearly excessive fee), RPC 
1.5(c)(3) (failure to include required language in fee agreement), RPC 1.15-1(d) (failure to promptly deliver property) and RPC 
1.16(d) (failure to take reasonable steps to protect client after termination).

Eckrem represented a client in child custody matters, each time for a flat fee to be treated as earned on receipt. His fee agreement in the first representation did not inform the client, as required by RPC 1.5(c)(3), that she may discharge him at any time and in that event may be entitled to a refund of all or part of the fee if the services for which the fee was paid are not completed. However, Eckrem completed the services. In the second representation, the fee agreement included the required language. However, when the client discharged Eckrem prior to the services being completed, Eckrem failed to refund any portion of the flat fee paid.

In a matter involving another client, Eckrem received funds from the client to be paid for a sum due and owing to a third party. Eckrem failed to promptly deliver the funds to the third party.

Eckrem had a prior disciplinary history. The probation requires Eckrem to implement appropriate written fee agreements, utilize proper procedures for storing and safeguarding client property, and respond promptly to requests from his current or former clients concerning files, unearned funds or other property.

return to top
return to Table of Contents