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News

Discipline Report

Jan. 1, 2018

Discipline Report - January 2018

Recent attorney disbarments, suspensions, probations, and public reprovals in California.

DISBARMENT
Aldon Louis Bolanos, Sacramento
Gene W. Chang, Beverly Hills
Martin Ian Cutler, Beverly Hills
Lee Humphrey Durst, Newport Beach
William Dennett Goodrich, Jerusalem, Israel
Joseph D. Gumina, Jonesborough, Tennessee
Jacqueline A. Mangum, Beverly Hills
Joseph Henry Marman, Citrus Heights
John Darwin McCurdy, II, Goleta
William Hardy Noble, Daly City
Ellis Park, Tustin
Bryan L. Robinson, San Francisco
William Leo Smith, Fair Oaks
Julia Susanna Swanson, San Pedro
Alice Brown Traeg, San Francisco
Vi Katerina Tran, San Jose
William Arthur Vallejos, Alhambra

SUSPENSION
James Andre Boles, Oak View
Kevin Alan Bove, Escondido
Thomas Patrick Brown, IV, Pasadena
David Neil Clyde, Fresno
Bruce Alan Cole, Capistrano Beach
Charles Jeffrey Fletcher, Sacramento
Brian D. Gard, Rancho Mirage
Eugene Dukjoon Kim, Los Angeles
Steven Karlton Kop, State Bar #91354
Charles Dominick Lombino, Henderson, Nevada
Gloria Maria Mas, El Dorado Hills
Linda Wallace Pate, Beverly Hills
Juan Enrique Pearce, San Francisco
Hayden Gifford Smith, Visalia
David Marvin Wiseblood, San Francisco

PROBATION
Dermot Damian Givens, Beverly Hills
Timothy J. Priebe, Colorado Springs, Colorado
Gary Allen Quackenbush, San Diego

PUBLIC REPROVAL
David Cline Johnston, Modesto
Natalya Samsonova, Los Angeles

DISBARMENT

Aldon Louis Bolanos, State Bar #233915, Sacramento (November 11, 2017)

Bolanos was disbarred after both he and the Office of Chief Trial Counsel of the State Bar (OCTC) appealed to challenge the hearing judge's finding of culpability of three counts of professional misconduct and recommendation of a two-year suspension from the practice of law.

The panel on appeal affirmed culpability for all three counts: collecting an illegal fee, failing to maintain funds in trust, and misappropriating the funds--misconduct involving moral turpitude.
However, it also found the misappropriation was "knowing and intentional," rather than "grossly negligent," thus warranting the more strict discipline of disbarment.

In the underlying action, Bolanos was substituted in to a malpractice action against three dentists. The client's fee agreement required a $1,000 monthly payment, characterized the case as a "personal injury matter," and made no mention of the controlling statute, the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act (MICRA), that limits both damages and attorney fees in actions against healthcare providers. The agreement also entitled Bolanos to a one-third contingency fee. The client made five initial payments, totaling $5,000, which Bolanos did not deposit into a client trust account.

Before the mandatory settlement conference was held in the matter, the defendants served Bolanos with their statements, which clearly described the case as a professional negligence matter, subject to MICRA limits.

The case was ultimately settled for $29,997, with each of the three defendants agreeing to pay $9,999. Bolanos received two of the three settlement checks and deposited them into his client trust account, without notifying the client or seeking her authority to endorse them. He then withdrew $9,990 as his fees and later another $5,000, claiming he intended that sum as an "advance" to the client. After receiving the third settlement check, Bolanos negotiated it and deposited it into his client trust account, informed the client he had received her funds, and then issued her a check for $$900 less than she was entitled to under the terms of the retainer agreement.

The client retained a new attorney, who threatened to sue Bolanos for malpractice, citing fees collected in excess of the MICRA limits. The two attorneys engaged in some jockeying over the fee amount. The client ultimately filed a complaint with the State Bar.

The panel on appeal substantially agreed with the hearing judge's findings on aggravation and mitigation.

In aggravation, Bolanos had a prior record of discipline that also involved a client dispute over fees and mishandling funds. The panel underscored that this was "particularly serious," noting that: "It calls into question his previous expression of remorse and leaves us with doubts as to whether he is willing or able to conform his conduct to the high ethical standards required of an attorney." In addition, he was given aggravating weight for committing multiple acts of wrongdoing and for overreaching.

In mitigation, he entered into a pretrial stipulation as to some facts, submitted testimony from seven witnesses attesting to his good character and participation in community and pro bono work, and was allotted nominal weight for showing remorse, since the remorseful behavior was contradicted by other behavior that diluted the mitigative effect.

Gene W. Chang, State Bar #177216, Beverly Hills (November 11, 2017)

Chang was disbarred by default after he failed to participate, either in person or through counsel, at his disciplinary proceeding, despite receiving adequate notice and having the opportunity to do so.

He was found culpable of committing 10 counts of professional misconduct related to a single client matter. His wrongdoing included: failing to maintain client funds in trust, failing to respond promptly to the client's reasonable inquiries, failing to render an appropriate accounting of the client's funds, failing to promptly pay the client funds to which he was entitled, failing to cooperate in the State Bar's investigation of the wrongdoing alleged, and two counts of commingling personal funds in his client trust account.

In addition, he was found culpable of three counts involving moral turpitude: misrepresenting to the client that he had tendered funds to the client's bankruptcy trustee when he had actually deposited the money in his client trust account, misrepresenting to another attorney that he held the client's funds when in fact he had spent them, and misappropriating those funds for his own purposes.

Martin Ian Cutler, State Bar #139536, Beverly Hills (November 11, 2017)

Cutler was disbarred by default from the practice of law after he failed to participate in the trial of the disciplinary charges against him despite having adequate legal notice. The proceeding consolidated three notices of disciplinary charges, and alleged probation violations as well as numerous counts of professional misconduct occurring in two separate client matters.

He was found culpable of all counts charged. They included: failing to respond to reasonable client inquiries, failing to inform a client of a significant case development, failing to provide an accounting of client funds, and two counts each of failing to perform legal services with competence and failing to cooperate in the State Bar's investigation of the wrongdoing alleged. He was also found culpable of failing to file a declaration of compliance as mandated by the California Supreme Court (Cal. Rules of Ct., Rule 9.20) and of failing to comply with additional disciplinary probation conditions specifically requiring filing quarterly and final written reports with the Office of Probation, as well as submitting proof of attending and passing final exams in the State Bar's Ethics and Client Trust Accounting Schools.

Lee Humphrey Durst, State Bar #69704, Newport Beach (November 3, 2017)

Durst was disbarred after he stipulated to failing to file an affidavit with the clerk of the State Bar Court showing he had complied with court rules requiring disclosure of suspension as required in an earlier disciplinary order (Cal. Rules of Ct., Rule 9.20).

In aggravation, Durst had a prior record of discipline.

In mitigation, he entered into a prefiling stipulation and submitted evidence of performing substantial community service and pro bono work.

William Dennett Goodrich, State Bar #119144, Jerusalem, Israel (November 3, 2017)

Goodrich was disbarred by default after he failed to appear at the trial in which he was charged with four counts of professional misconduct related to two client matters. The State Bar Court judge determined he had received adequate legal notice,of the proceeding and did not move to have the default entered set aside or vacated.

However, after Goodrich was placed on involuntary inactive status, the State Bar began receiving email messages, purportedly from Goodrich's wife who was living in Israel, claiming that his poor health precluded him from participating in any disciplinary proceeding. The matter was then abated so the State Bar could investigate the claim. Bar investigators received subsequent messages that Goodrich was in a care facility and then that he had died--though the source and veracity of the information could not be verified.

The State Bar was unable to secure a copy of a death certificate. Goodrich's first wife, who was living in the U.S., reported that she was "fairly certain" he was not deceased, and that her Social Security benefits derived from his work record had not been affected. More than 15 requests from State Bar investigators sent to his official membership email address went unanswered.

Goodrich was found culpable of all counts charged: two counts each of engaging in the unauthorized practice of law and charging and collecting a fee for legal services when he was not entitled to practice.

When he was disbarred, Goodrich had no prior record of discipline, though two investigations into alleged professional misconduct were pending against him.

Joseph D. Gumina, State Bar #288834, Jonesborough, Tennessee (November 11, 2017)

Gumina was disbarred by default after failing to participate in his disciplinary hearing, either in person or through counsel, despite receiving adequate notice and opportunity to do so.

The State Bar Court judge found the factual allegations in the notice of disciplinary charges supported his culpability on two counts: improperly withdrawing from representing a client and then failing to participate in the investigation of the charge of misconduct alleged.

Jacqueline A. Mangum, State Bar #114066, Beverly Hills (November 11, 2017)

Mangum was disbarred by default. She failed to participate in her disciplinary proceeding, despite receiving adequate notice, and did not move to have the resulting default order set aside or vacated.

She was charged with five counts of professional misconduct, mostly related to a single client matter, and was found culpable of four of the counts charged: failing to inform the client of a significant case development, failing to render an accounting of the client's funds, failing to participate in the State bar's investigation of the wrongdoing alleged, and failing to update her State
Bar membership records within 30 days of moving.

The State Bar Court judge dismissed an additional charge, finding that the facts deemed admitted did not show that Mangum "intentionally, repeatedly, or recklessly failed to perform legal services with competence."

Mangum had been disciplined by the State Bar for professional misconduct twice before.

Joseph Henry Marman, State Bar #129517, Citrus Heights (November 11, 2017)

Marman was disbarred after he stipulated to being culpable of several violations of probation set out in a previous discipline order. Specifically, he failed to comply with eight separate conditions--including the mandates of contacting the Office of Probation to schedule an initial meeting with an assigned probation deputy as well as submitting quarterly written reports, proof of attending an abstinence program and alcohol and drug testing results, and medical waivers to that office. In addition, he failed to file a timely declaration of compliance with the State Bar as ordered by the California Supreme Court (Cal. Rules of Ct., Rule 9.20).

In aggravation, Marman committed multiple acts of wrongdoing and had four prior records of discipline--two of them imposed for similar professional misconduct; three of them imposing actual suspension.

In mitigation, he submitted letters from eight individuals taken from the general and legal communities who were aware of the full extent of his misconduct, all of whom attested to his good character.

John Darwin McCurdy, II, State Bar #54091, Goleta (November 11, 2017)

McCurdy was disbarred after he stipulated to being convicted of unlawfully possessing a concealed and loaded firearm within a vehicle (Cal. Penal Code §25400(c)(6)(a)) and driving with a blood alcohol content of .08% or higher (Cal. Veh. Code §23152(b)). Both offenses are misdemeanors.

A highway patrol officer stopped McCurdy after observing him driving at 80 miles per hour--well over the speed limit. Though the officer smelled the odor of alcohol coming from the car, McCurdy denied consuming any. He was unable to pass field sobriety tests, and preliminary alcohol screening tests indicated blood alcohol concentrations of .189% and .198%.

A subsequent search of McCurdy's vehicle revealed a water bottle filled with an alcoholic beverage, as well as two loaded pistols--neither of which were registered to him.

The State Bar Court judge determined that the facts and circumstances surrounding the violations involved moral turpitude and warranted professional discipline.

In aggravation, McCurdy had a prior record of discipline involving vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated.

In mitigation, he entered into a pretrial stipulation acknowledging his misconduct.

William Hardy Noble, State Bar #201194, Daly City (November 11, 2017)

Noble was disbarred by default after he failed to participate either in person or through counsel in the trial of his disciplinary charges or to move to set aside or vacate the resulting default order.

He was found culpable of three counts of professional misconduct: failing to update his membership address with the State Bar, failing to cooperate in the State Bar's investigation of the misconduct alleged, and falsely reporting to the State Bar that he had completed the requisite 25 hours of Minimum Continuing Legal Education--misconduct involving moral turpitude.

Ellis Park, State Bar #214303, Tustin (November 11, 2017)

Park was disbarred after being found culpable of four counts of professional misconduct in a contested disciplinary proceeding. His wrongdoing, which occurred in a single client matter, included: failing to promptly notify the client of funds received on his behalf, failing to provide an accounting of client funds despite repeated requests to do so, failing to maintain the clients funds in a trust account, and misappropriating funds belonging to the client--an act involving moral turpitude.

In the underlying matter, Park was hired to represent a client in a civil forfeiture matter, accepting a total of $22,640 as fees, though no retainer agreement was signed and no billing statements were provided to the client. A final forfeiture jußdgment was eventually filed, with a proviso that just over $14,000 would be returned to the client through Park. Park deposited the check received from the government and deposited it in his client trust account, subsequently transferring money and making several withdrawals from the account that were unrelated to the client.

At a later meeting with the client and a CPA, Park admitted he had received the funds, but claimed that all but $1,500 had been applied as his legal fees. He had not been previously authorized to unilaterally apply the funds to his fees, nor did he provide evidence or an accounting to support his claims of having earned them.

In mitigation, Park had practiced law for 13 years without a record of discipline.

In aggravation, he committed multiple acts of misconduct that caused significant harm to his client, repeatedly demonstrated a lack of cooperation with the State Bar throughout the proceedings, and failed to make restitution to the client for any of the funds misappropriated. In addition, the State Bar Court judge allotted significant aggravating weight to Park's indifference toward rectification, underscoring the stalling and filibustering tactics he used at trial, as well as his failure to produce any evidence or to file a pretrial statement or a witness list.

Bryan L. Robinson, State Bar #188493, San Francisco (November 11, 2017)

Robinson was disbarred by default after he failed to appear at the trial at which he was charged with 11 counts of professional misconduct. The State Bar Court judge determined he had received adequate notice and had ample opportunity to do so.

He was found culpable all but one of the counts charged. His wrongdoing included failing to deposit client funds received into a trust account, making a false statement in an effort to mislead a judge, maintaining an unjust action by filing several meritless and frivolous appeals, and six counts of commingling personal funds with client funds in his client trust account. In addition, he failed to cooperate in the State Bar's investigation of the wrongdoing he was alleged to have committed.

William Leo Smith, State Bar #137805, Fair Oaks (November 11, 2017)

Smith was disbarred after he stipulated to pleading no contest to the misdemeanor of failing to register as a sex offender (Cal. Penal Code §290.018(a)) and indecent exposure with a prior (Cal. Penal Code §314(1)), a crime involving moral turpitude.

Smith, who had relapsed after undergoing treatment for a diagnosed sexual addiction, moved out of his family residence into a nearby apartment building, located 1/10 of a mile from a school and playing field. One morning, he intentionally exposed and manipulated his genitals in front of an open window of his apartment in full view of a female who had parked her car in the building's parking lot.

In mitigation, he entered into a pretrial stipulation acknowledging his misconduct and had practiced law for more than 14 years without a record of discipline.

In recommending disbarment, the State Bar Court judge noted Smith had "gravely breached societal norms."

Julia Susanna Swanson, State Bar #165039, San Pedro (November 11, 2017)

Swanson was disbarred by default after she failed to appear at her disciplinary trial, despite receiving adequate legal notice and opportunity to do so. She did not respond to the petition for disbarment or move to set aside or vacate the default judgment entered in the case.

She was found culpable of four acts of professional misconduct related to a single client matter: failing to maintain the client's funds in a trust account, failing to promptly pay funds to which the client was entitled, commingling client and personal funds, and ultimately misappropriating more than $9,700 of the client's funds--an act involving moral turpitude.

Swanson had one prior record of discipline.

Alice Brown Traeg, State Bar #79823, San Francisco (November 11, 2017)

Traeg was disbarred by default. She failed to appear, either in person or through counsel, at her disciplinary proceeding. The State Bar Court determined she had received sufficient legal notice, and did not move to have the default entered against her set aside or vacated.

She was found culpable of failing to comply with several probation conditions earlier imposed by the California Supreme Court. Specifically, she failed to meet with her assigned probation deputy, submit a medical waiver, obtain mental and physical evaluations, submit quarterly written reports, and submit mental health reports as required.

Traeg had been disciplined by the State Bar for professional misconduct once previously.

Vi Katerina Tran, State Bar #244412, San Jose (November 11, 2017)

Tran was disbarred by default after failing to participate in her disciplinary proceeding despite receiving adequate and having the opportunity to do so.

She was found culpable of four counts of professional misconduct related to a single client matter. Specifically, her wrongdoing included: failing to respond to numerous reasonable client status inquiries, improperly withdrawing from representation, failing to promptly release the clients' papers and property after their request to do so, and failing to cooperate in the State Bar's investigation of the misconduct alleged.

William Arthur Vallejos, State Bar #140110, Alhambra (November 3, 2017)

Vallejos was disbarred after he stipulated to failing to file an affidavit with the clerk of the State Bar Court showing he had complied with court rules mandating that he disclose his suspension as required in an earlier disciplinary order (Cal. Rules of Ct., Rule 9.20). Though he did file a Rule 9.20 affidavit, he tendered it 145 days after it was due, and it was rejected as failing to comply in several respects.

In aggravation, Vallejos had a prior record of discipline and demonstrated indifference to complying with his probation terms by ignoring numerous reminders from the Office of Probation.

In mitigation, he cooperated with the State Bar by filing a pretrial stipulation in the instant case.

SUSPENSION

James Andre Boles, State Bar #141639, Oak View (November 11, 2017)

Boles was suspended from the practice of law for 60 days and placed on probation for one year after a proceeding convened to determine whether the order based on professional misconduct in another jurisdiction also warranted professional discipline in California.

In the underlying matter, Boles represented union members employed in Nevada who were involved in various employment matters. He was hired by two clients: one bringing a wrongful termination action and the other challenging a discipline order. Both clients ultimately complained that Boles went on medical leave and moved to California before actually representing them, and also failed to turn over their files despite repeated requests.

The Nevada Supreme Court found Boles culpable of several violations of its state's rules of professional conduct. The State Bar Court judge in the present proceeding found that the wrongdoing also constituted professional misconduct in California, specifically: failing to perform legal services with competence, improperly withdrawing from employment, failing to promptly respond to client inquiries, failing to promptly return the clients' papers and property, and failing to update his membership records address as required.

In aggravation, Boles committed multiple acts of misconduct and had a prior record of professional discipline in California for misconduct that occurred during the same period as the instant matter.

In mitigation, he suffered from health problems with a demonstrated nexus to the misconduct at issue.

Kevin Alan Bove, State Bar #149675, Escondido (November 29, 2017)

Bove was suspended from the practice of law for 30 days and placed on probation for two years after a contested disciplinary matter in which he was found culpable of seeking to mislead a judge by an artifice or false statement of fact.

Bove was hired to represent a client facing pending immigration proceedings; the client was ultimately removed from the United States and deported. Eleven years later, the client hired a new attorney to reopen the case; she did so with a "Lozada motion" alleging ineffective assistance of counsel and threatening to file a complaint against Bove with the State Bar.

Bove, unaware of the Lozada motion, filed a response to the allegations of ineffective assistance with the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA), placing the client's current attorney's name and contact information rather than his own in the space designated for the filing party. He later testified he did this intentionally, as he didn't trust the attorney to file the response on his behalf, and didn't want to risk the document being rejected by the court.

The client and his new attorney were denied the opportunity to file a reply, and the BIA subsequently denied the motion to reopen the case.

In aggravation, Bove demonstrated a lack of insight into his misconduct, casting blame instead on the other attorney and on the administrative process itself.

In mitigation, he had practiced law for more than 23 years discipline-free.

Thomas Patrick Brown, IV, State Bar #97315, Pasadena (December 11, 2017)

Brown was suspended from practice for 30 days and placed on probation for one year after being found culpable of failing to comply with probation conditions imposed in an earlier disciplinary order by practicing law while suspended.

Brown operated a three-person firm and was responsible for most of the trial work there. After stipulating to an offense involving driving under the influence, he received an order from the California Supreme Court suspending him from practice, but was unable to ascertain the date the suspension would begin.

He asked an associate to help him in finding the commencement date, who consulted the State Bar website and contacted several sources there, but was told only that a letter would be forthcoming indicating the date the suspension would begin. Brown also sent emails to his probation deputy seeking clarification of the projected date, but did not meet with success--only automatic responses, or told he should await the State Bar letter enumerating his probation conditions. The letter was mailed and received some time after probation conditions--including the need to file a written report on a form obtained from the State Bar--had already passed.

Brown eventually learned of the start date of his suspension from an updated link to the State Bar website--and immediately informed clients of his status. In the meantime, he had continued working on various aspects of several client cases, but collected no fees for his services during that time.

In aggravation, Brown had one prior discipline record.

In mitigation, he entered into a stipulation as to facts and documents and showed remorse for his misconduct, which did not involve harm to any clients. He also submitted declarations from 17 individuals attesting to his good character--though the weight of that evidence was diminished by the fact Brown had four DUI convictions on his record.

David Neil Clyde, State Bar #89068, Fresno (November 11, 2017)

Clyde was suspended from the practice of law for 30 days and placed on probation for two years after he stipulated to committing five acts of professional misconduct related to a single client matter.

Specifically, his wrongdoing included: holding himself out as entitled to practice law while on inactive status, practicing law and accepting a fee for his services during that time--an act involving moral turpitude, collecting an illegal fee, failing to provide legal services with competence, and failing to refund unearned fees when requested to do so.

In aggravation, Clyde committed multiple acts of wrongdoing and failed to make restitution to the client in the case.

In mitigation, he entered into a stipulation before disciplinary charges were filed against him and had practiced law discipline-free for approximately 25 years.

Bruce Alan Cole, State Bar #68770, Capistrano Beach (November 13, 2017)

Cole was suspended from practicing law in the interim pending final disposition of his convictions of stealing (Miss. Ann. Stat. §570.30) and securities fraud (Miss. Ann. Stat. §409.5-501). Both are felonies involving moral turpitude.

Charles Jeffrey Fletcher, State Bar #142464, Sacramento (November 3, 2017)

Fletcher was suspended from the practice of law for 60 days and placed on probation for one year after he stipulated to committing four acts of professional misconduct related to a single client matter. His wrongdoing included: failing to promptly release the client's papers as requested upon terminating employment, failing to return the client's documents as ordered by the court, failing to promptly refund an unearned advanced fee, and misrepresenting to a court that he had returned the client's documents as directed--an act involving moral turpitude.

Fletcher was hired to represent a client in a Proposition 36 Three Strikes re-sentencing matter, paid an advance fee of $4,000, and commenced representation before the briefing on the merits had been filed in the case.

The matter was continued three times and Fletcher failed to file the brief by the final extended due date, causing the court to drop the case. The client subsequently moved to have Fletcher removed as attorney of record and requested the court to order that he turn over the case file so that the client could represent himself. The court granted both requests, and specified that Fletcher inform the court clerk when the files were delivered. Fletcher later informed the court clerk on two separate occasions that he had delivered the case file to the client, which was untrue.

In aggravation, Fletcher committed multiple acts of misconduct and had a prior record of discipline.

In mitigation, he entered into a pretrial stipulation and provided 18 letters from individuals from a range of the legal and general communities attesting to his good character and involvement in pro bono and community activities.

Brian D. Gard, State Bar #118457, Rancho Mirage (November 20, 2017)

Gard was suspended from practicing law pending proof of passing the Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam as mandated in an earlier State Bar disciplinary order.

Eugene Dukjoon Kim, State Bar #194100, Los Angeles (November 17, 2017)

Kim was suspended for one year and placed on probation for three years after he stipulated to committing numerous acts of professional misconduct related to three clients in a single matter.

His wrongdoing included: failing to perform legal services with competence, representing multiple clients without informing them of potential conflicts of their interests or securing their written consents, and failing to communicate both significant case developments and settlement offers to the clients.

He was also culpable of three counts each of failing to notify clients about settlement proceeds received, failing to maintain client funds in a trust account, and failing to promptly pay settlement proceeds due the clients.

In addition, in failing to supervise non-attorney staffers who executed settlements without the clients' knowledge and who then misappropriated the funds belonging to all three clients, he committed acts involving moral turpitude.

In the underlying matter, Kim was retained to represent the driver and two passengers involved in an automobile accident, though he did not inform them of their potential conflicts of interests or secure their written consents.

Kim received three checks in settlement of the property damages in the case, but he forwarded only a small amount of the total due to the driver. He subsequently received settlement checks for all three clients for their bodily injuries and deposited the funds into his client trust account, but did not inform the clients of the payments.

Kim had earlier authorized his non-attorney staff to assist him in handling the claims, but they did so without his supervision and acted unlawfully: settling the claims without the clients' knowledge or consent, falsifying their signatures on settlement agreements, and ultimately misappropriating the clients funds as well as stealing office equipment and client files.

Kim closed his office after learning of their misconduct, but did not inform the clients. They eventually hired a new attorney who uncovered the wrongdoing in the case and sued Kim for fraud and negligence, among other claims, securing a default judgment of just over $30,000; he failed to report the judgment to the State Bar as required.

In aggravation, Kim committed multiple acts of wrongdoing, failed to account for funds entrusted to him, and significantly harmed his clients--to whom he failed to make restitution. He also received aggravating weight for having a prior record of discipline, though that factor was tempered because it was based on actions that occurred during the same time period as the misconduct at issue.

In mitigation, he entered into a prefiling stipulation and provided letters from six individuals, all of whom were aware of the misconduct alleged, who vouched for his good moral character.

Steven Karlton Kop, State Bar #91354, Tuscon, Arizona (November 3, 2017)

Kop was suspended from practicing law for six months and placed on probation for two years after he stipulated to violating several conditions of a probationary order imposed earlier.

Specifically, he failed to timely submit five quarterly written reports, failed to provide timely proof of paying restitution to former clients, and failed to timely update his State Bar membership records.

In aggravation, Kop committed multiple acts of misconduct and had been disciplined for professional misconduct twice before.

In mitigation, he entered into a prefiling stipulation, saving the State Bar time and resources.

Charles Dominick Lombino, State Bar #94292, Henderson, Nevada (November 11, 2017)

Lombino was suspended from the practice of law for six months and placed on probation for two years after he stipulated to being culpable of actions constituting professional misconduct in another jurisdiction.

Lombino, admitted to practice law in both California and Nevada, entered into a partnership with another lawyer who also held dual licenses. The partner arranged a business operation purchasing and fixing up foreclosure properties, offering one client the opportunity to buy bulk mortgages from a bank at reduced rates, effectively clearing the encumbrances.

The client paid the requested upfront fee of $451,000--some of which was deposited in the firm's client trust account, some which of the partner diverted to his own entities, some wired to the firm's general operating account. The operation was later revealed to be a farce; the partner had removed the total $451,000 from the firm's account. Lombino did not immediately report the wrongful deal to the client or to the State Bar of Nevada, and ultimately took draws from the firm's account totaling $29,000.

In aggravation, Lombino committed an act of dishonesty by taking draws from the account after he knew it was funded by misappropriated money.

In mitigation, he entered into a prefiling stipulation and had practiced law for a combined total of 25 years in the two jurisdictions without a record of discipline.

Gloria Maria Mas, State Bar #132429, El Dorado Hills (November 3, 2017)

Mas was suspended from the practice of law for 60 days and placed on probation for two years after she stipulated to being culpable of several offenses involving drinking and driving. The State Bar determined the facts and circumstances did not involve moral turpitude, but did involve other conduct warranting professional discipline.

In one of the underlying incidents, Mas, who was working as an assistant district attorney, consumed several vodka drinks at lunch, then drove from her home back to work. Investigating police officers soon arrived there to question whether Mas had driven while under the influence of alcohol. After she failed to successfully perform field sobriety tests and her breath samples indicated blood alcohol contents well over the legal limit, she was arrested for driving under the influence. She subsequently pled no contest to driving under the influence of alcohol (Cal. Veh. Code §23152(b)).

A few years later, Mas was involved in a collision at 8:30 a.m. in which she rear-ended a vehicle at a stop light, also damaging a third vehicle. She told investigating officers she had not been drinking alcohol prior to the collision, but two preliminary screenings indicated she had a blood alcohol content level greater than five times the legal limit, and she was arrested. She was subsequently found guilty of two counts of driving under the influence, driving with a blood alcohol content of .20 percent or more, and having a prior DUI conviction (Cal. Veh. Code §§23152(a) and (b)).

In aggravation, Mas showed dishonesty by lying to the police about her alcohol consumption and held a position as a former state prosecutor that imbued her with a higher expectation of awareness of her misconduct.

In mitigation, she entered into a pretrial stipulation, had practiced law for 24 years before committing her first offense, did not harm the public or administration of justice through her misconduct, cooperated with the State Bar in its investigation, and provided four character letters from a range of references in the legal and general communities.

Linda Wallace Pate, State Bar #79523, Beverly Hills (November 2, 2017)

Pate was suspended from practicing law pending proof of passing the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination--one of the conditions imposed in an earlier disciplinary order.

Juan Enrique Pearce, State Bar #236228, San Francisco (November 13, 2017)

Pearce was suspended in the interim pending final dispositions of his convections of distributing child pornography (Cal. Penal Code §311.1(a)), possessing child pornography (Cal. Penal Code §311.11(a)), and two admitted allegations of receiving or buying stolen property (Cal. Penal Code §§311.1(c)(1) and (2) and §496(a)). All the offenses are felonies involving moral turpitude.

Hayden Gifford Smith, State Bar #241606, Visalia (November 11, 2017)

Smith was suspended from practicing law for 90 days and placed on probation for three years. He stipulated to committing two acts of professional misconduct.
In one matter, he failed to comply with several conditions imposed in an earlier reproval order requiring him to file quarterly written reports, make monthly restitution payments, and to take and pass the Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam within the time ordered.

In the other matter, Smith was hired to represent a client accused of armed robbery who was later arrested as part of a gang sweep involving several crimes while out on bail. Though Smith made several appearances for the client in both criminal cases, he subsequently asked the court to remove him from representation due to personal health issues. He did not inform the client in advance and was deemed culpable of failing to communicate a significant development to that client.

In aggravation, Smith committed multiple acts of misconduct and had a prior record of discipline.

In mitigation, he entered into a full prefiling stipulation, resolving the entire matter without the necessity of a trial.

David Marvin Wiseblood, State Bar #115312, San Francisco, (November 11, 2017)

Wiseblood was suspended from the practice of law for 60 days and placed on probation for one year after he stipulated to committing four acts of professional misconduct related to a single matter related to two clients involved in a real estate dispute.

His wrongdoing included: failing to perform legal services with competence, failing to inform the clients of a significant case development, failing to obey a court order, and misrepresenting the legal stance of the case to his clients--an act involving moral turpitude.

Wiseblood was retained by two individuals who together owned a 50 percent interest in an apartment complex. During the course of the ensuing litigation, Wiseblood received numerous documents from opposing counsel--including a demand for inspection interrogatories, requests for admissions, and a motion to compel a response on behalf of his clients. He did not inform the clients of any of these case developments, nor did he inform them of the several sanctions the court had ordered against him for his failures to respond over the course of three years. He also failed to inform them of the default order ultimately entered in the case, and when the subject property was ultimately sold, he failed to apply to the court to release their portion of the sales proceeds as promised.

In aggravation, Wiseblood committed multiple acts of misconduct that significantly harmed his clients and demonstrated intentional misconduct in his failures to comply with discovery requests as well as failing to inform his clients about the true status of their case.

In mitigation, he entered into a pretrial stipulation acknowledging his misconduct, had practiced law for nearly 28 years without a record of discipline, and took steps to right his wrongdoing by executing a declaration in support of his clients' motion to set aside the default entered in the case.

PROBATION

Dermot Damian Givens, State Bar #194571, Beverly Hills (November 29, 2017)

Givens was placed on probation for two years after he stipulated to two acts of professional misconduct related to commingling funds in his client trust account. Over a nine-month period, he deposited eight checks and made one payment for a business expense from the account.

In aggravation, Givens committed multiple acts of wrongdoing.

In mitigation, he entered into a prefiling stipulation, had no prior record of discipline in nearly 18 years of practice, submitted letters from seven individuals attesting to his good character and participation in community and pro bono work, and suffered extreme emotional difficulties during the time of the misconduct due to his father's illness and death.

Timothy J. Priebe, State Bar #169580, Colorado Springs, Colorado (November 11, 2017)

Priebe was placed on probation for two years after he stipulated to committing professional misconduct in another jurisdiction that warranted discipline by that State Bar. He was found culpable there of three counts: breaching the duty to practice competently, breaching the duty to be diligent, and breaching the duty to communicate with a client.

Priebe, admitted to practice law in both California and Colorado, was hired by a Colorado client to recoup money she lost in a securities fraud scheme. She paid him a total of $2,500 in legal fees and expenses. Priebe initially pursued actions against the judgment debtor and against the judgment debtor's wife, who had executed a promissory note secured by a trust deed to satisfy the underlying order to pay restitution, but later defaulted on it. However, there were a couple lapses of several months duration in his attention to the case, and the statute of limitations expired on the client's claim to collect on the promissory note--a case development he did not explain to the client. Four years after he was initially retained, Priebe issued a subpoena to the judgment debtor, though the process server was unable to serve him.

As the matter dragged on, the client became progressively more unhappy with Priebe's representation and lack of response to her case inquiries. He eventually terminated his services and turned over the client's file to her.

The client hired new counsel, who filed suit against the judgment debtor's wife, but that action was dismissed as the statute of limitations had run.

The California State Bar Court judge determined that the wrongdoing, as adjudicated by the Colorado Bar authorities, also warranted violated California laws and rules and warranted professional discipline in California.

In aggravation, Priebe committed multiple acts of misconduct and significantly harmed his client, who was prevented from collecting on a promissory note worth $100,000.

In mitigation, he entered into a prefiling stipulation acknowledging his misconduct, had practiced law for 10 years in California and 13 years in Colorado without a record of discipline in either jurisdiction, and presented letters from six individuals attesting to his good character as well as evidence of engaging in a substantial amount of community service.

Gary Allen Quackenbush, State Bar #137752, San Diego (November 11, 2017)

Quackenbush was place on probation for two years after he stipulated to committing three acts of professional misconduct related to a single client matter. He was found culpable of failing to perform legal services with competence, failing to inform the clients of significant case developments, and failing to respond to reasonable client inquiries about the status of their case.

Quackenbush represented a married couple in a bankruptcy proceeding who were facing foreclsure on their home, paying a total of $3,600 in advanced legal fees. He filed the bankruptcy petition and attended several meetings with creditors related to the case. The clients subsequently communicated several times with Quackenbush's paralegal, who gave them erroneous advice or failed to respond to them and on several occasions, and also failed to relay the clients' concerns about their case to him--including that their mortgage lender was again threatening foreclosure. The clients subsequently learned that their home had been sold at auction.

Quakenbush did not respond to the clients' requests to call or meet with them, nor did he respond to their later letters expressing frustration about his representation. He did not contest the motion to dismiss their bankruptcy--and the case was dismissed.

In aggravation, Quackenbush had a prior record of being disciplined by the State Bar and was a contributing factor in significantly harmed his clients, who lost their home even though they sought bankruptcy protection and had been led to believe their foreclosure proceedings had been stayed.

In mitigation, he entered into a prefiling stipulation, cooperated with the State Bar in all stages of its investigation, and submitted character letters from seven individuals aware of the misconduct alleged who attested to his good character, along with evidence of his volunteer community service.

PUBLIC REPROVAL

David Cline Johnston, State Bar #71367, Modesto (November 11, 2017)

Johnston was publicly reproved after he stipulated to being culpable of three acts of professional misconduct related to a single client matter: failing to perform legal services with competence, failing to respond to repeated and reasonable client inquiries about the case, and failing to cooperate in the State Bar's investigation of the wrongdoing he was alleged to have committed.

Johnston was hired to represent a client in negotiating a compromise on tax debts; he was paid a retained of $2,000. He then took no action in the case, nor did he respond to the client's inquiries or request to return the advanced fees. One year after retaining Johnston, the client filed a complaint against him with the State Bar, which he also ignored.

After the State Bar filed formal charges against him, Johnston returned the unearned fees to the client.

In aggravation, Johnston had a prior record of discipline.

In mitigation, he entered into a pretrial stipulation and at the time of the misconduct, was suffering from physical and emotional difficulties--his own serious medical condition, his wife's serious medical condition, and the deaths of several family members and friends.

Natalya Samsonova, State Bar #303523, Los Angeles (November 14, 2017)

Samsonova was publicly reproved after she stipulated to pleading no contest and being found guilty of one count of attempted vandalism (Cal. Penal Code §594(a)).

In the underlying matter, Samsonova was working as an associate attorney when she got into an altercation with a paralegal over mediation documentation in a file. Samsonova concluded their heated email exchanges with a threat that if the paralegal didn't change her behavior, she would "live to regret it."

After the paralegal showed that message to her supervisors, they fired Samsonova--who punctured two tires on the paralegal's car on her way out of the firm's parking structure.

The State Bar Court judge determined that the facts and circumstances surrounding the offense did not involve moral turpitude, but did involve misconduct warranting discipline.

In mitigation, Samsonova entered into a pretrial stipulation, saving the State Bar significant resources and time.

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