Oregon State Bar Bulletin MAY 2014
GREGG A. McDONALD
On Feb. 19, 2014, the disciplinary board approved a stipulation for discipline publicly reprimanding Portland lawyer, Gregg McDonald, for a violation of RPC 3.4(c) (knowingly disobeying an obligation under the rules of a tribunal).
In late 2011, McDonald stipulated to the entry of a permanent stalking order, which prohibited him from contacting the petitioner in a civil case. A short time later, the circuit court entered an order that memorialized the stipulated agreement.
Despite his awareness of the court’s order, McDonald knowingly contacted the petitioner in mid-2012, in violation of the circuit court’s stalking order.
In October 2012, McDonald pled guilty to one count of violating the circuit court’s stalking protective order and was found in willful contempt of court for that violation.
The stipulation recited that McDonald’s conduct was aggravated in part by his selfish motivation, but mitigated by a number of factors including, his lack of prior relevant discipline; lack of dishonesty; personal or emotional problems; cooperation with the bar; and remorse.
MONTGOMERY W. COBB
Effective March 25, 2014, the disciplinary board approved a stipulation for discipline suspending Montgomery Cobb for 30 days for violation of RPC 8.4(a)(2) (committing a criminal act that reflects adversely on honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer in other respects).
From 2008 to 2010, Cobb was the designated “tax matters partner” in a small firm. The firm experienced financial problems. The Oregon Department of Revenue reported that from 2008-2010, Cobb withheld money from his employees’ wages but failed to pay it to the state or federal governments. After the firm dissolved and Cobb formed his own LLC in November 2009, he failed to file any state quarterly reports. Similarly, in 2010, Cobb failed to file state withholding tax reports.
Failure to pay over funds withheld from employees’ wages for federal and state taxes for 10 separate quarters, over a three-year period constituted a crime under 26 USC §7501(a) subject to penalties under 26 USC § 7202 and or 23 USC § 7203 in violation of RPC 8.4(a)(2).
Cobb’s absence of disciplinary history, lack of selfish motive, cooperation, remorse and subsequent payment of some of the funds to the federal government mitigated the sanction.
KATHERINE C. TANK
Effective April 1, 2014, the disciplinary board approved a stipulation for discipline suspending Bend lawyer Katherine Tank for 90 days for violations of the following: RPC 3.3(a) (false statement of fact or law to a tribunal or failing to correct a false statement of material fact or law previously made); RPC 8.4(a)(3) (conduct involving misrepresentation); and RPC 8.4(a)(4) (conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice).
In 2009 Tank represented a corporation on matters related to its corporate records. Because the corporation did not have complete records, some were drafted by an associate in Tank’s firm. She had no personal involvement in the drafting. The records purported to memorialize corporate records, events and actions dating back 20 years.
In 2010 litigation, at issue in which was ownership and control of the corporation, Tank stated or implied that the corporate records were prepared well before the litigation began. Tank’s representations did not accurately reflect the course of events and were misleading to the court.
Tank’s absence of any disciplinary history, lack of selfish motive, cooperation and remorse mitigated her sanction.
SUSAN C. STEVES
Effective April 8, 2014, a trial panel of the Oregon State Bar Disciplinary Board disbarred Bend attorney Susan C. Steves for violating the following: RPC 1.3 (neglect of legal matters); RPC 1.4(a) (failure to keep clients reasonably informed of the status of their matters); RPC 1.4(b) (failure to explain matters to the extent necessary to permit clients to make informed decisions); RPC 1.16(c) (failure to notify the court or obtain permission to withdraw); RPC 3.3(a)(1) (making a false statement of law or fact to the court); RPC 8.4(a)(3) (conduct involving misrepresentation); and RPC 8.4(a)(4) (conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice).
The trial panel entered a default judgment against Steves for her conduct in four client matters. In determining that Steves should be disbarred, the panel considered that she had acted intentionally and had caused actual injury to her clients, the court and the opposing parties. The trial panel also considered Steves’ two prior suspensions for similar conduct; that her conduct involved multiple offenses and displayed a consistent pattern of misconduct; that she was motivated by self-interest; that the victims of her conduct were vulnerable; and that she had substantial experience in the practice of law.
FRANCISCO C. SEGARRA
90-day suspension, all but 30-days stayed pending a two-year probation
Effective June 1, 2014, the disciplinary board approved a stipulation for discipline suspending Eugene attorney Francisco Segarra for 90 days, with all but 30-days stayed pending probation for violations of the following: RPC 1.3 (neglect); RPC 1.4(a)(failure to keep a client informed or comply with requests for information); RPC 1.4(b) (failure to adequately explain a matter to a client ); RPC 1.16(a)(2) (failure to withdraw when a mental condition materially impairs a lawyer’s ability to represent a client); RPC 1.16 (d) (failure to take reasonable steps to protect client’s interests on termination); RPC 8.1(a)(2) (failure to respond to the bar); and RPC 8.4(a)(3) (misrepresentation), for his conduct in two unrelated client matters.
In the first matter, Segarra represented a wife in a divorce with no children and few assets. Segarra filed the petition but failed to communicate with the client or explain the status of the case. Segarra did not timely produce discovery to opposing counsel and failed to appear the day of trial due to migraine headaches. As a result, the client was sanctioned for failing to comply with the discovery deadline and appear at trial. Despite his impairment, Segarra failed to properly withdraw or take any other action to advance his client’s matter.
In the second matter, Segarra was hired to respond a show cause order regarding parenting time and to file a motion to modify the parenting time provisions of a divorce decree. Segarra drafted a motion to modify but failed to file it, and failed to communicate with his client. Instead, Segarra withdrew from the case without timely notice and failed to protect his client’s interest upon withdrawal. Despite multiple requests, Segarra failed to return the client’s file.
Although aggravated by his multiple offenses, Segarra’s sanction was mitigated by his lack of prior discipline and the fact that he was experiencing emotional problems during the period in which the conduct in these matters occurred that may have contributed to or exacerbated his misconduct.