Washington Lawyer

Bar Counsel: NOBC

From Washington Lawyer, April 2007

By Gene Shipp

Illustration by Mick Wiggins

In February the National Organization of Bar Counsel (NOBC) met for its midyear meeting in conjunction with the American Bar Association’s midyear meeting.[1] One hundred forty-two colleagues attended. This is a short report of what is going on around the country in attorney discipline.

Current Developments. The NOBC had a 90-minute session on key current developments around the United States. Attendees were given 137 pages of summaries of all the disciplinary cases in the last six months throughout the country. This alone makes the trip worthwhile. The sad thing is that attorneys continue to neglect their clients’ cases and engage in dishonest acts. The misappropriation of client funds seems to have slowed over the past few years, which is very encouraging.

Interstate Cooperation Between Disciplinary Agencies. There was a discussion of the recent level of interstate cooperation between disciplinary agencies. Reciprocal disciplinary subpoena rules are now found in 21 jurisdictions including the District of Columbia. More states are adopting specific financial record-keeping standards in their rules. The District has not yet adopted such standards. More jurisdictions are broadcasting their appellate court arguments, and attorneys are now able to listen from their desk on any issue that might interest them. The D.C. Court of Appeals is one of those jurisdictions. Plea bargaining in disciplinary matters is now accepted in most jurisdictions, and the discussion focused on how to reciprocate on these bargains.

Cooperation With Federal Agencies. A very encouraging trend is the cooperation and participation of the federal agencies that do disciplinary work. Representatives of the Department of Justice’s Office of Professional Responsibility, Executive Office for Immigration Review, and Professional Responsibility Advisory Office were at the meeting. The National Labor Relations Board, Securities and Exchange Commission, and Department of Homeland Security (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services) were also represented. In addition to networking, the people from these agencies ran panels on what they do and how they can cooperate with the local disciplinary counsel.

There were also two specific presentations on immigration law, which has become a serious problem for bar counsel around the country. It seems that a small but troubling group of lawyers take their local license to any place in the United States and establish a federal immigration practice. The local bar counsel often does not have jurisdiction over the attorney, and the at-risk population does not know where to complain about ethical failures. All parties including the federal agencies are cooperating to address this problem.

Organization of Bar Investigators. The Organization of Bar Investigators (OBI), now in its fourth year, is composed of professional investigators and paralegals from disciplinary agencies. Its most recent annual meeting in the District included training on dealing with the key federal investigative agencies as well as on financial investigative techniques. OBI has more than 190 members in the United States and Canada.[2] The organization has created a network of investigators who can call on one another to obtain documents and assist in investigations across the country. This network is particularly important to the Office of Bar Counsel because a very large part of the D.C. Bar’s membership is not in the Washington metropolitan area. The network also provides terrific assistance in the 60 reciprocal matters the office handles each year.[3]

Paperless Office. The big push in the technical field is the paperless office. Many bar counsel offices are looking into going digital with their documents. Storage costs, disaster planning, and electronic filing are the driving forces. Our system is exploring the idea of digitizing all incoming paper. We understand that if we were to suffer a disaster (flood, fire, or terrorist attack), our ability to resume operations would count on our ability to access files. As much as we like to feel the paper, we are now convinced the backup has to be electronic.

Advertising. The Florida Bar put on a presentation on regulating advertising. Florida is much more aggressive than most states in its rules and review of attorney conduct in this area. It was interesting to learn that New York has tightened down on attorney advertising to include a “30-day no-contact period” for victims of a tort injury. The D.C. Court of Appeals recently revised our in-person solicitation rule to prohibit the payment of a fee to nonemployees for recommending the lawyer’s services through in-person contact. This is a big change in our runner rule, but in no way compares with several states’ prohibitions and regulations of advertising.[4]

Training for Disciplinary Counsel. The NOBC is sponsoring a National Institute of Trial Advocacy training this fall specifically for disciplinary counsel. Often the type of training bar counsel attend is on substantive law rather than specifically on prosecuting a disciplinary matter.

Federal Banking Law. The recent changes in the federal banking law that permit and encourage electronic banking are having a significant effect on the rules on required records and the pursuit of original documents by disciplinary agencies.

Disaster Planning. We continued to learn more on disaster planning from our friends in Florida, Louisiana, and Mississippi.

The NOBC meeting was excellent, and though the world continues to be more and more complex and the issues difficult, the human condition remains the same. A client goes to an attorney for help, and if the attorney fails in an ethical obligation, the matter ends up at Bar Counsel.

Notes
[1] The NOBC has 116 organizational members (from the United States, Canada, and Australia) represented by 817 individuals who engage in ethics enforcement.
[2] Currently 32 states and three Canadian provinces are members.
[3] The Office of Bar Counsel has two full-time investigators. Chuck Anderson, our senior forensic investigator, has 24 years’ experience with the FBI as an agent, and Kevin O’Connell, our forensic investigator, has 26 years’ experience with the FBI as an agent. Both have brought considerable experience and expertise in financial cases to our office. Chuck is the new president of OBI.
[4] We have plenty of other cases, so please do not consider this as a request that we change our rules!

Disciplinary Actions Taken by the Board on Professional Responsibility
Original Matters
In re James L. Coffin. Bar No. 389697. January 18, 2007. The Board on Professional Responsibility recommends that the D.C. Court of Appeals disbar Coffin by consent.

In re Gary A. Courtois. Bar No. 302539. December 21, 2006. The Board on Professional Responsibility recommends that the D.C. Court of Appeals reinstate Courtois with the conditions that he submit a restitution plan within 30 days of the reinstatement order and that he submit to Bar Counsel and the board, on a semiannual basis, notification and proof of payments in compliance with the terms of the plan until such time as he has paid restitution in full.

In re Lucy R. Edwards. Bar No. 197020. December 18, 2006. The Board on Professional Responsibility recommends that the D.C. Court of Appeals suspend Edwards for 30 days. Edwards drafted a will for her client, agreed to serve as his personal representative, and agreed to hold the original will until his death. However, Edwards failed to have a system in place by which she could determine that she held his will in her office files and that she was to probate his estate. Thus, after learning that her client had died, Edwards was unable to locate the original and failed to initiate probate of his estate despite her agreement to do so. She ultimately found the original will four years after her client’s death. Edwards failed to serve the estate, which included a sole beneficiary, with the skill and care commensurate with that generally afforded to clients by other lawyers in similar matters. In addition, Edwards neglected her duty to her deceased client and his heir and, as a result, adversely impacted the probate process in the District of Columbia. Rules 1.1(b) and 8.4(d).

In re Gregory Hawn. Bar No. 489371. December 5, 2006. The Board on Professional Responsibility recommends that the D.C. Court of Appeals suspend Hawn for 30 days. Hawn engaged in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation when he falsified his résumé and law school transcript sent to prospective employers. Rule 8.4(c).

In re Mark C. Herbst. Bar No. 383670. December 4, 2006. The Board on Professional Responsibility recommends that the D.C. Court of Appeals suspend Herbst for nine months, with three months stayed, and place him on probation for two years with the following conditions: a practice monitor shall monitor Herbst’s practice and report to the board quarterly (with copies to the Office of Bar Counsel); Herbst shall continue treatment by his doctor or a suitable substitute, with the doctor sending quarterly reports to the board (copies to Bar Counsel); and Herbst shall take at least one continuing legal education course on law office management including the proper handling of trust accounts and maintenance of financial records. While retained to represent a family of five involved in a minor automobile accident, Herbst committed eight violations of seven rules of professional conduct, including negligent misappropriation, failure to keep complete records of client funds held in trust, and failure to supervise nonlawyer staff appropriately. Rules 1.1(a), 1.1(b), 1.2(a), 1.4(a), 1.4(b), 1.15(a), and 5.3(b).

Reciprocal Matters
In re Michael J. Beattie. Bar No. 450873. December 5, 2006. In a reciprocal matter from Virginia, the Board on Professional Responsibility recommends that as reciprocal discipline the D.C. Court of Appeals suspend Beattie for 60 days, with execution of the suspension stayed in favor of 60 days’ unsupervised probation. The board further recommends that as a condition of probation Beattie be directed to inform Bar Counsel if he now is or should become the subject of any disciplinary complaints or proceedings in Virginia during the period of the probation. The Virginia State Bar Disciplinary Board suspended Beattie for 60 days. While retained to represent a client in an employment matter, Beattie made a false statement to a tribunal, failed to inform a tribunal of all material facts in an ex parte proceeding, and engaged in conduct intended to disrupt a tribunal.

In re Carlos H. Caceres Jr. Bar No. 466265. January 19, 2007. In a reciprocal matter from Maryland, the Board on Professional Responsibility recommends that the D.C. Court of Appeals impose identical reciprocal discipline and disbar Caceres. The Court of Appeals of Maryland disbarred Caceres by consent. In the joint petition, Caceres stipulated that violations of the Maryland Rules of Professional Conduct implicated by his conduct included rules pertaining to competence; scope of representation; diligence; communication; safekeeping property; declining or terminating representation; dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation; and conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice. Also implicated were violations of Maryland Rules 16-604, 16-607, and 16-609 and Maryland Code, Business Occupations and Professions Article §§ 10-304, 10-306, and 10-307.

In re G. S. Christenson. Bar No. 362377. December 26, 2006. In a reciprocal matter from California, the Board on Professional Responsibility recommends that the D.C. Court of Appeals impose identical reciprocal discipline and suspend Christenson for one year, staying execution of all but 60 days of the suspension, with reinstatement subject to the terms and conditions imposed by the California court, including the payment of restitution and compliance with probation conditions, and with a requirement that he prove fitness if he remains suspended in California for two years or more. The Supreme Court of California suspended Christenson for failure to return unearned fees and failure to cooperate and participate in a disciplinary investigation.

In re Charles F. Daum. Bar No. 952481. December 21, 2006. In a reciprocal matter from Virginia, the Board on Professional Responsibility recommends that the D.C. Court of Appeals impose the functionally equivalent reciprocal discipline of a public censure. A three-judge court presiding in the Arlington County Circuit Court imposed a public reprimand with terms, based on an agreed disposition, against Daum for depositing unearned fees from a client in his operating account rather than his trust account. In addition, when Daum’s client terminated his services, Daum failed to promptly provide the client file, an accounting of time spent on the representation, and a refund of unearned fees.

In re Mary I. Duvall. Bar No. 367682. December 19, 2006. In a consolidated reciprocal matter from Maryland, based on separate orders of indefinite suspension and disbarment imposed against Duvall by the Court of Appeals of Maryland, the Board on Professional Responsibility recommends that the D.C. Court of Appeals disbar Duvall. Both reciprocal matters against Duvall involved multiple rule violations, including intentional misappropriation.

In re Kenneth L. Hall. Bar No. 421407. December 8, 2006. In a reciprocal matter from Nevada, the Board on Professional Responsibility recommends that the D.C. Court of Appeals impose identical reciprocal discipline and suspend Hall for 40 days. The board further recommends that Hall be given 14 days from the date of this report to file an affidavit that complies fully with the requirements of D.C. Bar Rule XI, section 14(g), and if Hall files the affidavit and it meets the requirements, that his suspension run nunc pro tunc from July 11, 2001, the date of the Nevada suspension. If Hall fails to file a fully compliant section 14(g) affidavit within the designated time period, the board recommends that the court suspend Hall for 40 days and that the suspension be deemed to commence, for purposes of reinstatement, from the date a compliant affidavit is filed. The Supreme Court of Nevada suspended Hall because of his conviction of gross misdemeanor child abuse and neglect, which was based on findings that Hall engaged in sexual activities with a woman, in the presence and direct view of the woman’s three-year-old daughter, and that he videotaped the encounter.

In re Donald A. Hoffman. Bar No. 376484. December 19, 2006. In a reciprocal matter from Louisiana, the Board on Professional Responsibility recommends that the D.C. Court of Appeals impose functionally identical reciprocal discipline and suspend Hoffman for three months, with execution of the suspension stayed in favor of a one-year period of unsupervised probation. The Supreme Court of Louisiana suspended Hoffman for three months and deferred the suspension in its entirety, subject to the condition that any misconduct by Hoffman during a one-year period following the date of finality of the court’s judgment would be grounds for executing the suspension or imposing additional discipline if appropriate. The Louisiana court held that Hoffman knew or should have known of the conflict of interest among his several clients, and that his failure to disclose fully the possible effect of the multiple representations resulted in serious harm to some of them.

In re Warren R. Kraft. Bar No. 425676. December 1, 2006. In a reciprocal matter from New Jersey, the Board on Professional Responsibility recommends that the D.C. Court of Appeals impose identical reciprocal discipline and disbar Kraft. The Supreme Court of New Jersey disbarred Kraft for knowingly misappropriating client funds in connection with three matters.

In re Peter R. Maignan. Bar No. 461974. December 4, 2006. In a reciprocal matter from Maryland, the Board on Professional Responsibility recommends that the D.C. Court of Appeals impose nonidentical reciprocal discipline and suspend Maignan for six months with fitness. The Court of Appeals of Maryland suspended Maignan indefinitely for mishandling the proceeds of a settlement check. Maignan violated Maryland rules of professional conduct pertaining to competence, commingling and misappropriation, disbursement of client funds, and interfering with the administration of justice.

In re Walter B. Lebowitz. Bar No. 489693. January 31, 2007. In a reciprocal matter from California, the Board on Professional Responsibility recommends that the D.C. Court of Appeals impose identical reciprocal discipline and suspend Lebowitz for five years with fitness. The Supreme Court of California accepted Lebowitz’s resignation, with charges pending, from the State Bar of California. The charges pending at the time Lebowitz submitted his resignation from the California bar were based entirely upon his admissions of misconduct in an earlier Florida case. The admitted misconduct consisted of two instances, during the period from November 2000 to March 2004, of Lebowitz’s practicing law in Florida despite the Florida Supreme Court’s acceptance, on September 14, 1989, of his petition for resignation from the Florida Bar without leave to reapply.

In re Charles E. McClain Sr. Bar No. 439941. December 21, 2006. In a reciprocal matter from Maryland, the Board on Professional Responsibility recommends that the D.C. Court of Appeals impose identical reciprocal discipline of a 90-day suspension to run nunc pro tunc from November 28, 2005, provided that McClain files a supplemental affidavit pursuant to D.C. Bar Rule XI, section 14(g), within 10 days of the issuance of this report. The Court of Appeals of Maryland suspended McClain for violating Maryland rules of professional conduct pertaining to competence, diligence, communications with clients, conflict of interest, professional judgment, meritorious claims, expanding litigation, candor to tribunal, respect for rights of a third party, and conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice.

In re Mary H. Richardson. Bar No. 427477. December 20, 2006. In a reciprocal matter from New Jersey, the Board on Professional Responsibility recommends that the D.C. Court of Appeals impose identical reciprocal discipline and suspend Richardson for six months with fitness. The Supreme Court of New Jersey suspended Richardson for misconduct that arose out of her role in refinancing two mortgages held by her grandmother. Richardson failed to protect the proceeds of the refinancing, and subsequently made dishonest remarks under oath in an attempt to conceal her previous impropriety.

In re Jeffrey N. Schwartz. Bar No. 462769. January 31, 2007. In a reciprocal matter from Georgia, the Board on Professional Responsibility recommends that the D.C. Court of Appeals impose identical reciprocal discipline and suspend Schwartz for 18 months, to run nunc pro tunc to October 3, 2006. In the Georgia Supreme Court’s order of discipline, which was based on Schwartz’s petition for voluntary discipline, Schwartz admitted that between the fall of 2001 and March 2003 he accessed, listened to, and randomly deleted voice mail messages left on the voice mail system of his former employer, an Atlanta law firm from which he had been discharged in August 2001. In imposing the disciplinary sanction, the Georgia court considered several mitigating factors, including Schwartz’s unblemished disciplinary record, his candor in his dealing with the state bar, his demonstrated contrition and remorse, and the fact that he was well respected in the legal community.

In re Joel A. Skirble. Bar No. 89128. December 6, 2006. In a reciprocal matter from Virginia, the Board on Professional Responsibility publicly reprimanded Skirble as functionally identical reciprocal discipline. A three-judge court presiding in the Alexandria Circuit Court found violations of multiple disciplinary rules of the Virginia Code of Professional Responsibility and issued Skirble an admonition with terms. Skirble submitted a settlement demand to the tort-feasor’s insurance carrier without consulting his client and before his client’s medical treatment was completed. Skirble then withdrew from the representation, contravening the contingent fee agreement, and asserted a lien based upon his prior unauthorized settlement demand. Skirble was further found to have failed to represent his client with competence, promptness, and zealousness. Skirble complied with the terms of the admonition that he accrue at least six ethics credit hours prior to January 15, 2005, and that he promptly engage the services of a specified law office management consultant and agree to follow all recommendations made by the consultant and pay the consultant’s fees and costs, for a two-year period. If Skirble had failed to comply with these terms, a 60-day suspension would have been imposed by the Virginia court.

In re Mark S. Weiss. Bar No. 376283. December 21, 2006. In a reciprocal matter from Virginia, the Board on Professional Responsibility recommends that the D.C. Court of Appeals impose identical reciprocal discipline and suspend Weiss for five years, with the conditions imposed by the Virginia court. A three-judge panel for the Prince William County Circuit Court suspended Weiss based on an agreed disposition for violating Virginia ethical rules concerning competence, zealousness, failure to abide the objectives of the client, diligence, failure to communicate, safekeeping of property, failure to withdraw, bringing of frivolous claim, candor toward tribunal, fairness to opposing party or counsel, truthfulness to third parties, false statement on bar admission, and dishonesty, while representing clients in a medical malpractice action.

Disciplinary Actions Taken by the District of Columbia Court of Appeals
Original Matters
In re Timothy Brown. Bar No. 366743. December 14, 2006. The D.C. Court of Appeals disbarred Brown, but stayed the disbarment in favor of Kersey-style mitigation, and placed Brown on three years’ probation conditioned on (1) full satisfaction of the restitution and sobriety-monitoring conditions previously imposed upon him by the court in Brown I; (2) repayment to the Clients’ Security Fund of all the monies that the fund paid to Brown’s clients plus 6 percent interest, to run from the date of such payments through the date of repayment in full (this repayment plan to be consistent with the plan developed by the financial monitor); and (3) payment to former clients of interest on their $1,000 retainer that has been repaid, to be calculated at the legal rate of 6 percent, from March 6, 1992, to March 4, 2005. During the initial investigation of the three disciplinary matters above, Brown was indefinitely suspended from the practice of law because of a medical disability. In March 2004 the court reinstated Brown from the medical disability and ordered Bar Counsel to reactivate the three disciplinary matters. Brown engaged in misappropriation of client funds as well as other violations during the late 1980s and early 1990s. DR 1-102(A)(4), DR 9-103(A), DR 9-103(B)(1), and DR 9-103(B)(3) and Rules 1.3(a), 1.3(c), 1.4(a), 1.15(a), 1.15(b), 1.15(d), 1.16(d), 5.5(a), and 8.4(c).

In re Terence A. Coles. Bar No. 459287. December 21, 2006. The D.C. Court of Appeals disbarred Coles. Coles was convicted in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia of conspiracy to commit fraud in the first degree, fraud in the first degree, receiving stolen property, and bribery. Coles had misused his position as an administrator of the District of Columbia Escheated Estates Fund to defraud the fund of approximately $20,000 meant to benefit low-income residents of the District of Columbia. The court held that more than one of the crimes for which Coles was convicted involved moral turpitude, for which disbarment is mandatory under D.C. Code § 11-2503(a) (2001).

In re Richard A. Juliano. Bar No. 465761. December 7, 2006. The D.C. Court of Appeals disbarred Juliano. Juliano entered a plea of guilty in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois to one count of mail fraud, a crime involving moral turpitude per se, for which disbarment is mandatory under D.C. Code § 11-2503(a) (2001).

In re Bobara E. Liles. Bar No. 952002. December 14, 2006. The D.C. Court of Appeals indefinitely suspended Liles on the basis of a medical disability.

In re Wendell C. Robinson. Bar No. 377091. January 18, 2007. The D.C. Court of Appeals reinstated Robinson, subject to the conditions set forth in the Board on Professional Responsibility’s report and recommendation.

In re Clarence F. Stanback Jr. Bar No. 960740. December 29, 2006. The D.C. Court of Appeals reinstated Stanback.

In re John A. Turner Jr. Bar No. 193920. December 28, 2006. The D.C. Court of Appeals reinstated Turner, subject to the conditions set forth in the Board on Professional Responsibility’s report.

Reciprocal Matters
In re Paul C. Bland. Bar No. 232512. December 7, 2006. In a reciprocal matter from Virginia, the D.C. Court of Appeals imposed functionally equivalent reciprocal discipline and disbarred Bland. The Virginia State Bar Disciplinary Board, after issuing successive suspension orders, revoked Bland’s license to practice law for multiple instances of misconduct revealing a pattern of serious client neglect and lack of competent representation.

In re John V. Buffington Jr. Bar No. 179028. December 7, 2006. In a reciprocal matter from Pennsylvania, the D.C. Court of Appeals imposed identical reciprocal discipline and suspended Buffington for six months, effective immediately. The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania suspended Buffington for six months for violations of Pennsylvania rules of professional conduct involving the unauthorized practice of law as well as false or misleading communications about a lawyer’s services, and conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice.

In re James A. Granoski. Bar No. 435499. December 7, 2006. In a reciprocal matter from Florida, the D.C. Court of Appeals imposed identical reciprocal discipline and suspended Granoski for 10 days. The Supreme Court of Florida suspended Granoski on the basis of a consent agreement in which he admitted violations of Florida rules of professional conduct pertaining to misconduct; concealing evidence; failure to report to lawful demand for information from a disciplinary authority; dishonesty; conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice; and failure to respond in writing to a bar inquiry.

In re Steven R. Hook. Bar No. 430542. December 14, 2006. In a reciprocal matter from Maryland, the D.C. Court of Appeals imposed identical reciprocal discipline and suspended Hook for 90 days. The Maryland Court of Appeals suspended Hook for 90 days as a result of a joint petition for suspension by consent that he filed with the Attorney Grievance Commission of Maryland. Hook stipulated that sufficient evidence existed to support his violations of Maryland rules of professional conduct pertaining to diligence, failure to communicate, inadequate supervision of nonlegal employees, knowing failure to respond to a lawful demand for information from a disciplinary authority, and conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice.

In re Susan M. Robbins. Bar No. 428167. December 7, 2006. In a reciprocal matter from Arizona, the D.C. Court of Appeals imposed identical reciprocal discipline and publicly censured Robbins. The Supreme Court of Arizona publicly censured Robbins, by consent, for making a false representation to a trial court in that state when seeking an extension of time to answer a complaint.

In re Eugene H. Steele. Bar No. 168112. January 11, 2007. In a reciprocal matter from Florida, the D.C. Court of Appeals imposed functionally equivalent reciprocal discipline and publicly censured Steele. The Supreme Court of Florida publicly reprimanded Steele. The Florida disciplinary proceeding arose out of Steele’s representation of a friend in a dispute over the cost of dental work. After a hearing a referee found that Steele had sent his client’s dentist a letter that was derogatory, demeaning, and threatening and that misstated the deadline for complying with a Florida statute.

In re Martin S. Tanner. Bar No. 418351. December 28, 2006. In a reciprocal matter from Utah, the D.C. Court of Appeals imposed functionally identical reciprocal discipline and suspended Tanner for five years with fitness. The Utah Supreme Court granted its consent to Tanner’s petition to resign with discipline pending and permitting Tanner to apply for readmission to the Utah State Bar after five years. The petition stated that Tanner did not dispute the facts reported to the Utah Supreme Court by the Utah Office of Professional Conduct involving Tanner’s violations of Utah rules of professional conduct involving candor to the tribunal; fairness to opposing party and counsel; committing a criminal act reflecting adversely on the lawyer’s honesty, trustworthiness, or fitness as a lawyer; and engaging in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice.

In re Charles M. Tatelbaum. Bar No. 232348. December 14, 2006. In a reciprocal matter from Florida, the D.C. Court of Appeals imposed identical reciprocal discipline and suspended Tatelbaum for 90 days, subject to his compliance in Florida with other requirements imposed by the Florida Supreme Court as part of its discipline. The Florida Supreme Court suspended Tatelbaum as a result of his having filed a fraudulent insurance claim, unrelated to his practice of law.

In re Robert J. Weisbard. Bar No. 424616. December 21, 2006. In a consolidated reciprocal matter from Colorado, the D.C. Court of Appeals suspended Weisbard for 18 months with fitness for conduct involving failure to return retainer funds and files to clients; failure to communicate promptly with clients; failure to file a timely response for a client in a court matter; commingling personal and client funds; threatening to bring a disciplinary action in the course of civil proceeding; and attempting to settle a dispute with a client with the use of the client’s funds.

Criminal Contempt Matter
In re Matthew J. Marshall Jr. Bar No. 381184. January 4, 2007. Judge Harold L. Cushenberry Jr. of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia found Marshall guilty of criminal contempt of the D.C. Court of Appeals’ November 22, 2000, order disbarring him from the practice of law. In March 2005 Marshall held himself out as a licensed attorney and agreed to represent a client in a personal injury action. Marshall engaged in settlement negotiations with the defendant’s insurance company and attempted to settle the matter for $50,000. Judge Cushenberry sentenced Marshall to a term of imprisonment of 180 days.

Informal Admonitions Issued by the Office of Bar Counsel
In re Ana T. Jacobs. Bar No. 446701. December 26, 2006. Bar Counsel issued Jacobs an informal admonition for sending her client a letter containing the incorrect filing date for appeal of an immigration matter to the federal court and failing to oversee the work of a nonlawyer assistant. Rules 1.1(a), 1.1(b), and 5.3(a).

In re Kenneth J. Loewinger. Bar No. 34520. December 19, 2006. Bar Counsel issued Loewinger an informal admonition for failing to effectively supervise a paralegal to whom he had delegated responsibility for ensuring service, to provide competent representation, and to represent the client with diligence and zeal and to act with reasonable promptness, while retained to represent a client in the purchase of three tax sale certificates. Rules 1.1(a), 1.1(b), 1.3(a), 1.3(c), and 5.3(b).

In re Luis Salgado. Bar No. 342444. January 11, 2007. Bar Counsel issued Salgado an informal admonition. While retained to obtain a visa for his client in an immigration matter, Salgado failed to accurately and adequately explain the J1 visa option, to return his client’s telephone calls, and to disclose all necessary information to his client about a consular interview; and attempted to condition a settlement of the client’s D.C. Bar Attorney/ Client Arbitration Board (ACAB) claim on the client’s withdrawing his complaint to the Office of Bar Counsel. In addition, when the ACAB found in favor of Salgado’s client, Salgado failed to pay the award by the due date. Rules 1.4(a), 1.4(b), 1.16, 8.4(a), and 8.4(d).

In re Sharon Styles-Anderson. Bar No. 412158. December 27, 2006. Bar Counsel issued Styles-Anderson an informal admonition for multiple improper actions in violation of the West Virginia Rules of Professional Conduct. Styles-Anderson delayed in entering her appearance for a client she represented and failed to acquire the required signature of local counsel on all pleadings and subpoenas. In addition, Styles-Anderson filed a pleading in another case in which she had not been admitted pro hac vice, where there was no local counsel and where she had not made an explicit disclosure to the court of her status. Rules 3.48 and 5.5(a) of the West Virginia Rules of Professional Conduct (made applicable by D.C. Rule 8.5(b)).

In re Alan S. Toppelberg. Bar No. 230185. December 20, 2006. Bar Counsel issued Toppelberg an informal admonition for (1) failing to communicate and/or failing to supervise an associate who failed to communicate; (2) failing to ensure that his firm had in effect measures giving reasonable assurances that all lawyers in the firm conformed to the ethical rules; failing to make reasonable efforts to ensure that an associate conformed to the ethical rules; and/or failing to know, when he reasonably should have known, of an associate’s conduct at a time when its consequences could have been avoided or mitigated by taking reasonable remedial action, and failing to act accordingly; and (3) in connection with the termination of a representation, failing to take timely steps to refund an advance payment of a fee that had not been earned, while representing a client in an employment matter. Rules 1.4(a), 1.4(b), 5.1(a), 5.1(b), 5.1(c), and 1.16(d).

The Office of Bar Counsel compiled the foregoing summaries of disciplinary actions. Reports and recommendations issued by the Board on Professional Responsibility, as well as informal admonitions issued by the Office of Bar Counsel, are posted on the D.C. Bar’s Web site at www.dcbar.org/
attorney-discipline/index.cfm
. Court opinions are printed in the Atlantic Reporter and, for decisions issued since mid-1998, are also available online. To obtain a copy of a recent slip opinion, visit www.dcappeals.gov/dccourts
/appeals/opinions_mojs.jsp
. Please note that in some cases Bar members may have the same name. To confirm the identity of individuals who have been subject to discipline, contact the D.C. Bar Member Service Center at 202-626-3475 or memberservices@dcbar.org.