Caution! Almost 180,000 attorneys are eligible to practice law in California. Many attorneys share the same names. All discipline reports are taken from State Bar Court documents and should be read carefully for names, ages, addresses and bar numbers. Read the Discipline Key for an explanation of the different levels of disciplinary action. Use Attorney Search to check an attorney's official bar membership record.
CLIFFORD BERNARD MALONE JR. [#66689], 58, of Diablo was disbarred Aug. 24, 2006, and was ordered to comply with rule 955 of the California Rules of Court.
Malone appealed a hearing judge’s disbarment recommendation, but the State Bar Court review department upheld most of the judge’s findings and agreed Malone should lose his license.
He learned from a former paralegal that a group of investors had been swindled by a Carmichael-based bank by investing in fraudulent certificates of deposit. The paralegal and her investigator husband arranged a meeting between Malone and the potential plaintiffs, who hired Malone in 1990. He filed suit in 1991 and a jury awarded his clients almost $8 million. A dentist and his wife were awarded just over $1 million of the total judgment.
The clients’ attempts to collect on the judgment were unsuccessful, but Malone told the dentist and his wife he knew of an investigator who could help. Malone was introduced to the investigator by a subcontractor who had installed tiles in his home. The investigator owned a food import and distribution company, repossessed boats on the side and was not licensed as an investigator. Malone did not check out his references.
The dentist and his wife ultimately gave Malone $387,000 to recover the judgment, but received nothing. Malone twice told them he was close to getting their money.
He testified at trial that the investigator told him there were threats against Malone and his family, who left the Bay Area for Greece, New York and Florida. The couple authorized him to spend $20,000 to protect himself.
When the clients faced bankruptcy and sought an accounting from Malone, he chastised them and wrote, “Why are you bringing this matter up now when no one even faintly discussed such a request before? We all knew whom we were hiring and how [the investigator] worked from the very beginning.”
The bar court found that Malone paid himself or used for his benefit $54,540 from the couple’s trust account. He also advanced $42,014 of his own money in costs for the collection effort.
The review department found that Malone improperly solicited clients, misappropriated client funds, engaged in fraud, represented adverse interests and he failed to account for client money, respond to clients’ status inquiries or keep them informed of developments in their case.
In mitigation, he had no prior discipline record in 15 years of practice and he presented “an impressive demonstration of good character.”
HENDLEY CLAY HUTCHINSON [#191891], 52, of Calexico was disbarred Aug. 30, 2006, and was ordered to comply with rule 955.
In a default matter, the State Bar Court found that Hutchinson had failed to comply with rule 955, as required by a 2005 disciplinary order. He did not file with the Supreme Court an affidavit stating that he notified his clients and other pertinent parties of his suspension.
The underlying matter involved Hutchinson’s failure to communicate with clients or return unearned fees and the unauthorized practice of law.
Failure to comply with rule 955 is grounds for disbarment.
MICHAEL K. MOBERLY [#196374], 49, of Stanton was disbarred Aug. 30, 2006, and was ordered to comply with rule 955.
In a default matter, the State Bar Court found that Moberly failed to comply with rule 955, as required by a 2005 disciplinary order. He did not submit to the Supreme Court an affidavit stating that he notified his clients and other pertinent parties of his suspension.
The underlying discipline was imposed for misuse of his client trust account. Moberly failed to maintain more than $25,000 in disputed funds in trust, issued six checks from his client trust account for personal purposes, committed an act of moral turpitude by writing a check against insufficient funds and he failed to cooperate with the bar’s investigation.
B. JOE THOMSON [#145816], 61, of Houston was disbarred Aug. 30, 2006, and was ordered to comply with rule 955.
In a default proceeding, the State Bar Court found that Thomson’s conduct in a bankruptcy case in Texas was “despicable.” Thomson engaged in grievous misconduct, wrote Judge Richard A. Honn, accusing him of “essentially attempting to wring additional money from a client under threat of disclosure of confidential information and engaging in further litigation against the client to that end.”
Thomson represented a doctor in his personal bankruptcy and later in an appeal of his bankruptcy. A dispute arose between the two when Thomson began demanding additional fees of between $40,000 and $120,000 for the appeal. Thomson sued his client, accusing him of RICO violations and wire and mail fraud. Both the lawsuit and a subsequent appeal were dismissed.
Thomson also twice threatened to reveal confidential information to federal authorities if his client did not pay more fees.
Thomson has been suspended in California for non-payment of bar fees since 1997, but he wrote several letters on letterhead that indicated he was entitled to practice in the state.
Honn found that Thomson threatened to make criminal charges against his client in order to gain advantage in a civil suit, committed acts of moral turpitude and held himself out as entitled to practice law when he was suspended.
PETER HOWE BLUNT [#153392], 61, of Sausalito was suspended for four years, stayed, placed on five years of probation with an actual three-year suspension and until he proves his rehabilitation, and he was ordered to take the MPRE and comply with rule 955. The order took effect Aug. 24, 2006.
A member of the Colorado bar, Blunt was disciplined there in 1998 and was not eligible to practice. In 2001, he moved his California-based business, CorpLegal Services, to Denver and began operating it there.
With two others, Blunt owned a condominium. The three sought approval from the condo board to build four units over a garage they owned. The other two agreed to pay Blunt to handle the project.
He provided legal services and legal advice while not entitled to practice.
Blunt’s misconduct in Colorado warranted discipline in California.
He has been disciplined three times previously in California.
In mitigation, Blunt cooperated with the bar’s investigation, acted in good faith, showed remorse and had severe financial problems.
LESLIE WALKER VANANTWERP III [#112696], 48, of Los Angeles was suspended for one year, stayed, and placed on two years of probation. The order took effect Aug. 24, 2006.
VanAntwerp stipulated that he failed to comply with conditions attached to a 2003 public reproval — he submitted four quarterly reports and proof of restitution payment late and did not complete ethics school or pass the MPRE on time.
In mitigation, he cooperated with the bar’s investigation.
The public reproval was imposed for VanAntwerp’s failure to perform legal services competently, return client phone calls or report to the bar the entry of a civil judgment against him.
DAVID JAMES BORNSTEIN [#65256], 56, of Cerritos was suspended for four years, stayed, placed on five years of probation with an actual three-year suspension and until he proves his rehabilitation, and was ordered to take the MPRE and comply with rule 955. The order took effect Aug. 24, 2006.
Bornstein was convicted in 2005 of misdemeanor possession of child pornography after he purchased access to a Web site that featured images of child porn. Law enforcement officers uncovered approximately 9,500 images in a search of two computers seized at Bornstein’s home. At the time, he was a deputy attorney general for California.
His actions involved moral turpitude.
In mitigation, Bornstein has no prior discipline record.
NANA SERWAAH GYAMFI [#171480], 38, of Los Angeles was suspended for two years, stayed, placed on two years of probation and was ordered to make restitution, prove her rehabilitation and take the MPRE. The order took effect Aug. 30, 2006.
Gyamfi stipulated to misconduct in four matters.
In two matters, she practiced law while suspended for nonpayment of bar dues, representing a client in a criminal matter and other clients in a civil case.
Gyamfi also failed twice to update her membership records with the bar after changing her office address.
Hired in 1997 to prepare a petition for writ of habeas corpus for a convicted murderer, Gyamfi failed to perform legal services competently. There was no written fee agreement, but the client’s family paid a portion of the $5,000 fee, believing Gyamfi would begin working on the matter immediately. Gyamfi believes the entire fee was to be paid before she began the work.
As a result, no work was done for two and a half years. At that time, Gyamfi began working on the matter after entering a written payment agreement and receiving more money.
Although she prepared a petition and the client signed it, she never filed the petition because she was convinced she would not receive the remainder of her fee. Gyamfi says she notified the client and modified the petition so he could file it himself.
The client says he never received her letter.
The payment agreement stated that final payment was not due until the writ was completed. Gyamfi never refunded any unearned fees.
In another case in which she was hired to prepare a writ of habeas corpus, she never met with the client or informed him that she determined there were no issues to support filing a petition. She did not refund any of the advance $5,000 fee.
In mitigation, Gyamfi has no prior discipline record and she cooperated with the bar’s investigation.
FREDERICK JOSEPH AMOROSE [#73597], 55, of Sacramento was suspended for one year, stayed, placed on two years of probation with an actual 30-day suspension and was ordered to take the MPRE within one year. The order took effect Aug. 30, 2006.
Amorose stipulated that he practiced law while suspended for failing to comply with MCLE requirements and committed an act of moral turpitude by doing so. While suspended for nine months in 2004-05, he filed a lawsuit on behalf of his client, regularly provided legal advice and collected fees for professional services.
Amorose credited his client for payments made for services while he was suspended.
In mitigation, he has no prior discipline record and he cooperated with the bar’s investigation.
SIDNEY C. FLORES [#64082], 59, of San Jose was suspended for two years, stayed, placed on four years of probation with an actual 60-day suspension and until he proves his rehabilitation and hires a certified public accountant, and he was ordered to take the MPRE. If the actual suspension exceeds 90 days, he must comply with rule 955. The order took effect Aug. 30, 2006.
Flores stipulated that in a personal injury case, he did not adequately supervise his wife, who served as his office manager and wrote checks against his client trust account for personal purposes. He also failed to maintain in trust funds received for a client.
Flores’ wife did not have signature authority on the trust account, but she had access to the records and checkbook. She wrote six checks against the account, signing her husband’s name. Her actions resulted in a shortfall of funds for one client of about $3,350.
Flores was unaware of his wife’s actions and did not routinely review her work, although he was previously disciplined for trust account violations.
In mitigation, he cooperated with the bar’s investigation.
NELSON ROSS BOYLAN [#75899], 54, of Chilcoot was suspended for two years, stayed, placed on four years of probation and was ordered to prove his rehabilitation. The order took effect Aug. 30, 2006.
Boylan stipulated to two counts of misconduct that stemmed from his employment at Briggs & Baker, a credit counseling firm. He was hired by a client to resolve his outstanding credit card debt. During the course of the representation, Boylan severed his ties with the company but did not take any files related to his cases. He failed to perform legal services of any value for the client.
In 2003, after Boylan left Briggs & Baker, the state attorney general accused the firm of engaging in unfair business practices. Boylan was named as a defendant, although most of the misconduct alleged in the complaint occurred after he left. Nonetheless, Boylan entered a stipulated judgment in which he was enjoined from operating a debt management or debt negotiation service or engaging in credit repair.
He stipulated that he failed to uphold the laws of the state.
Boylan has been disciplined twice previously.
In mitigation, he cooperated with the bar’s investigation, demonstrated remorse, notified the bar about the stipulated judgment with the attorney general’s office and refunded fees to his client.
GREGORY J. KHOUGAZ [#107530], 50, of Santa Monica was suspended for one year, stayed, placed on two years of probation and was ordered to take the MPRE within one year. The order took effect Sept. 8, 2006.
Khougaz failed to comply with conditions attached to a 2004 public reproval by not submitting three quarterly reports. The underlying discipline was imposed for a failure to perform legal services competently or communicate with clients.
RICK WILLIAM MANTHEI [#77292], 54, of Agoura Hills was suspended for two years, stayed, placed on three years of probation with an actual 30-day suspension and was ordered to prove his rehabilitation. The order took effect Sept. 8, 2006.
Manthei stipulated to four counts of misconduct in a personal injury matter in which he was hired by a woman to represent her minor son. After he filed a complaint, the defendant served him with interrogatories, but he did not respond. He did not respond to a motion to compel and was sanctioned $623 and ordered to participate in mediation. He failed to appear at a post-mediation status conference or at a hearing to dismiss the case. The court dismissed the matter with prejudice for Manthei’s failure to obey a court order.
Manthei did not respond to his client’s letters, inform him the case was dismissed or pay court-ordered sanctions.
He later settled a malpractice action by the client for $25,000, but paid $18,775.
He has been disciplined twice previously, including a one-year stayed suspension in 2005 for failing to perform legal services competently, inform a client of significant developments in his case or respond to status inquiries.
DON ALAN RAIG [#45791], 65, of San Diego was suspended for one year, stayed, actually suspended for 30 days and until the State Bar Court grants a motion to terminate the suspension, and was ordered to take the MPRE. If the actual suspension exceeds 90 days, he must comply with rule 955; if it exceeds two years, he must prove his rehabilitation. The order took effect Sept. 8, 2006.
In a default proceeding, the State Bar Court found that Raig failed to comply with the law by not conforming to Probate Code requirements in his handling of a trust.
Raig was co-trustee of a charitable trust, funded with $1.8 million, and sole trustee of a family trust, funded with $133,000, both created in 1989. Both trusts were to be liquidated 15 years after their creation.
Initially, both Raig and one of the heirs participated in the investment and periodic distribution of funds from the charitable trust, which were deposited in numerous bank accounts and invested in various certificates of deposit. After 1992, however, the heir no longer was involved and Raig did not inform either of two beneficiaries about the status of either trust.
In 2004, one of the heirs made at least eight inquiries about the status of the trust, seeking information about its assets, liabilities and fair market value. Raig responded with a preliminary summary that did not give a dollar value for the assets, but denying that he had stolen or “expropriated” any money from the trust. He eventually deposited $200,000 from the charitable trust’s account into his client trust account and distributed the funds among four heirs.
Raig did not keep the beneficiaries reasonably informed of the trust status and administration, a violation of the Probate Code and he did not cooperate with the bar’s investigation.
He also was disciplined in 1980 for his actions in two probate cases.
JEFFREY CHARLES SWARTZLANDER [#122210], 53, of San Diego was suspended for one year, stayed, placed on two years of probation and was ordered to take the MPRE within one year. The order took effect Sept. 8, 2006.
Swartzlander stipulated to five counts of misconduct.
While suspended for non-payment of bar dues in 2004, he was hired and accepted a fee to update a revocable trust. Even after he became active again, he failed to perform the work he was hired to do. He did not return nine phone calls from his client, who hired a new lawyer and requested a refund of her fee and the return of her file. Swartzlander did not do either promptly.
LEWIS ROBERT TITUS JR. [#58486], 64, of Pasadena was suspended for six months, stayed, placed on one year of probation with a 30-day actual suspension and was ordered to take the MPRE within one year. The order took effect Sept. 8, 2006.
Titus stipulated that he wrote six checks, totaling more than $15,000, against insufficient funds in his personal checking account, committing acts involving moral turpitude.
He was publicly reproved in 1989 after being convicted of reckless driving, carrying a concealed firearm and carrying a loaded firearm.
In mitigation, he cooperated with the bar’s investigation.
HAO-NHIEN QUI VU [#177529], 42, of Westminster Probation was revoked, the stay of suspension was lifted and he was actually suspended for two years and until he proves his rehabilitation and was ordered to comply with rule 955. Credit toward the actual suspension will be given for a period of involuntary inactive enrollment that began May 21, 2006. The order took effect Sept. 10, 2006.
Vu did not submit four quarterly probation reports, prove he attended ethics school or complete six hours of MCLE in ethics. Vu did not participate in the probation revocation proceeding.
He was disciplined in 2004 for failing to perform legal services competently and for the unauthorized practice of law.
MICHAEL EDWARD CONSIGLIO [#55550], 66, of Moorpark Probation was revoked, the stay of suspension was lifted and he was actually suspended for one year and until he proves his rehabilitation. He was placed on three years of probation and was ordered to comply with rule 955. Credit towards the actual suspension will be given for the period of inactive enrollment that began May 22, 2006. The order took effect Sept. 10, 2006.
Consiglio violated his probation by submitting two probation reports late and failing to submit two others or attend ethics school.
He has three prior discipline records: a 2001 private reproval, a 2003 public reproval and a 2005 order imposed after Consiglio stipulated that he repeatedly failed to comply with probation conditions attached to the 2003 reproval.
MONICA MARIE JIMENEZ [#92740], 53, of Santa Ana was suspended for three years, stayed, placed on five years of probation with a one-year actual suspension and was ordered to prove her rehabilitation, take the MPRE and comply with rule 955. The order took effect Sept. 14, 2006.
In 2002, Jimenez stipulated to a 2000 conviction for misdemeanor public intoxication, which constituted a violation of probation conditions imposed in an earlier conviction, and a subsequent violation of her criminal probation. She also admitted her conduct involved moral turpitude.
In a second case, Jimenez admitted she violated numerous probation conditions attached to a 2000 public reproval — she failed to submit four quarterly probation reports or complete ethics school and she violated her criminal probation.
In 2002, Jimenez was accepted into the State Bar Court’s alternative discipline program for lawyers with substance abuse problems and enrolled in the Lawyer Assistance Program. Although she complied with the LAP requirements for more than two years, she was out of compliance by February 2005 and subsequently was terminated. Her efforts to re-enroll in the program were unsuccessful. Lawyers terminated from the LAP or the alternative discipline program are subject to a higher degree of discipline than would otherwise have been imposed.
CARY O. LINDSTROM [#129700], 49, of San Jose was suspended for two years, stayed, placed on two years of probation with a 60-day actual suspension and he was ordered to take the MPRE within one year. The order took effect Sept. 14, 2006.
Lindstrom stipulated to seven counts of misconduct in two matters.
In the first, he collected almost $9,000 between 1994-95 on behalf of a client who had received a default judgment. He gave the client $2,176, but it was not until 2002, when the client reviewed the file, that he learned the amount Lindstrom had received. The client was entitled to $5,212, but Lindstrom did not distribute the balance to him.
Lindstrom stipulated that he failed to keep a client informed about developments in his case, pay client funds promptly, provide an accounting of client funds or cooperate with the bar’s investigation.
In another matter, a client paid a $1,000 advance fee but subsequently had difficulty reaching Lindstrom to determine the status of his case. When he requested either action on his matter or a refund of his fee, Lindstrom did not respond. He refunded the fee after the bar opened an investigation.
Lindstrom stipulated that he failed to keep a client informed of developments in his case, promptly pay out client funds or cooperate with the bar’s investigation.
In mitigation, he had no prior discipline record.
RONALD GERSON GABLER [#57061], 60, of Encino was suspended for three years, stayed, placed on three years of probation and was ordered to take the MPRE within one year and prove his rehabilitation. The order took effect Sept. 21, 2006.
Gabler was retained by a disabled client to enforce her claim for dependent child benefits from the City of Los Angeles. The client is the legally adopted daughter of a deceased fire fighter and has developmental disorders, borderline autism and dyslexia and is unable to read, write or process information correctly.
Before signing a contingent fee agreement, Gabler stipulated, he had never before handled a claim for dependent child benefits due from the city, nor consulted with a lawyer who knew the field. Had he acquired the necessary learning and skill, he would have known the matter required very little work and that a contingency fee agreement was inappropriate.
The client’s application, which was filed before she hired Gabler, was approved without discussion. Including retroactive benefits, the client received a first check for $145,653. Of that, Gabler kept $48,551 as his fee. He stipulated that having spent no more than 80 hours on the case, he received at least $28,000 in excess fees.
Gabler failed to perform legal services competently.
In mitigation, he had no prior discipline record since his 1973 admission to the bar.
PAUL F. FEGEN [#31680], 72, of Los Angeles was suspended for two years, stayed, placed on three years of probation with an actual 30-day suspension and was ordered to prove his rehabilitation. The order took effect Sept. 21, 2006.
Over a seven-year period, Fegen’s client checked periodically to determine the status of her personal injury case. Fegen claims he never received any messages from her.
When she received two collection notices, she sent them to Fegen. He performed no legal services for her, failing to make any claim on her behalf, file a complaint or take any action with respect to the collection notices. He also improperly withdrew from representation and failed to keep his client reasonably informed of significant developments in her case.
In a second matter, Fegen held himself out as entitled to practice while he was suspended. He allowed a friend to use his name as counsel for her in a case, but was unaware she had done so after he was suspended.
He had been disciplined in 2005 for failing to perform legal services competently or communicate with a client and improper withdrawal from employment and committing acts of moral turpitude.
CHARLES H. CARREON [#127139], 50, of Pacifica was suspended for two years, stayed, placed on two years of probation with an actual 60-day suspension and was ordered to take the MPRE and prove his rehabilitation. The order took effect Sept. 21, 2006.
Carreon, who is licensed in both California and Oregon, was disciplined in Oregon for practicing without a license in Canada. He represented a U.S. corporation as house counsel for its business operations in Vancouver, British Columbia, but he was not licensed there.
As counsel for the company, he held in trust settlement proceeds from a litigation matter. Without consulting with his client, Carreon used $1,400 of the settlement money to pay a money judgment obtained for a residential lease he had signed in connection with his employment in Canada. He knew or should have known that the company disputed whether he was entitled to payment for the lease as a reimbursable expense.
The Oregon order found that Carreon violated his duty to maintain client funds in trust. The violation amounted to a violation of the California Rules of Professional Conduct. Practicing law in a jurisdiction where he was not entitled to do so also violated the California rules.
In mitigation, Carreon has no prior record of discipline and no clients were harmed.
JAMES BRIAN MARKUM [#170326], 40, of Palm Springs was suspended for one year, stayed, placed on three years of probation and was ordered to take the MPRE within one year and make restitution. The order took effect Sept. 28, 2006.
Markum stipulated to 10 acts of misconduct in six matters.
In 2004, he became extremely ill and also had emotional problems that caused him to start drinking. He entered a residential treatment center, giving his secretary a list of active clients with instructions to notify them of his illness and tell them how to obtain their files.
In each of the cases, Markum either did only part of the work he was hired to do or did no work at all. He did not refund unearned fees in most matters.
In a criminal case, for example, Markum’s client paid $18,750 in advance fees. Markum continued the matter several times and once was sanctioned by the court for being late and for missing one court appearance. He later asked to be removed from the case and was replaced by a public defender.
Markum stipulated that he owes his client $10,000; if that is unacceptable to the client, he agreed to initiate fee arbitration.
In an employment matter, a client paid Markum $750 to write a demand letter, which he did. The employer denied liability, so the client asked Markum to file suit and paid a $5,000 advance fee and the $297.50 filing fee. Although Markum drafted a complaint, he never filed it and did not refund the client’s fee.
In mitigation, Markum has no prior discipline record.
JEFF A. MANN [#115932], 51, of Los Angeles was suspended for two years, stayed, placed on two years of probation and was ordered to take the MPRE within one year. The order took effect Sept. 28, 2006.
Mann stipulated to three counts of misconduct in three matters.
In the first, three people involved in an auto accident hired Mann to represent them in a personal injury action. The clients received settlement checks, but Mann did not respond to numerous demands for reimbursement by an insurer, which sued the clients. Mann also did not make any reimbursements on his clients’ behalf. He stipulated that he failed to perform legal services competently.
In another personal injury case he took on a contingency basis, Mann settled his four clients’ claims for $6,788. He disbursed partial payment of $1,000 to a medical provider for treatment of two clients and gave two $500 checks to the clients. Only after the clients complained to the State Bar did Mann negotiate the other two medical bills and disburse their money. He stipulated that he failed to promptly pay his clients’ medical bills.
In the third matter, also a personal injury case he took on a contingency basis, he received settlement funds from an insurance company, and although he gave his client his share, he did not pay his medical bills. More than two years after the first demand for reimbursement of $3,248, Mann paid $2,176 as final payment. He stipulated that he failed to perform legal services competently.
In mitigation, Mann had no record of discipline, he demonstrated remorse and he cooperated with the bar’s investigation.
DAVID ERIC BROCKWAY [#75442], 59, of Marina del Rey was suspended for five years, stayed, placed on five years of probation with an actual two-year suspension and until he has proved his rehabilitation, and he was ordered to take the MPRE and comply with rule 955. The order took effect Oct. 7, 2006.
The State Bar Court’s hearing department upheld the findings of a review judge that Brockway committed 14 acts of misconduct in four client matters. However, the review department increased the recommended discipline from a one-year stayed suspension to a five-year stayed suspension.
The review department found that Brockway accepted several thousand dollars in fees from Asian immigrants who had pressing legal problems and then failed to perform any work. Brockway, who appealed the hearing judge’s findings, said he had no duty to perform the work, communicate with his clients or account for unearned fees because in each of the four cases in question, he entered into a “true retainer” fee agreement that secured only his availability, not his services. The former clients, however, said they hired Brockway to handle immediate legal problems and that he abandoned them, to their detriment.
The court found Brockway failed to perform legal services competently, render an accounting, promptly return unearned fees, communicate with clients or release client files, and he improperly withdrew from employment. The court also rejected virtually all of his explanations for his misconduct as not credible.
The first client, a Vietnamese woman who neither speaks nor reads English, paid Brockway $5,800 to obtain legal immigration status for her daughter-in-law. From the outset, Brockway recognized that the daughter-in-law was in grave danger of arrest and deportation but he did not contact his client for 10 months. The client called him 21 times and Brockway’s interpreter returned some calls.
She hired a new lawyer who did not receive the file from Brockway for several months, and it consisted of only three pages of a partially completed asylum application.
The client missed the filing deadline for an adjustment to her status, in part due to Brockway’s inaction and his lack of cooperation with the new lawyer. The client sued Brockway in small claims for a return of her fee; he appealed the judgment but failed to appear at a hearing and the client was awarded $5,000. Brockway paid after his motion to set aside the judgment was denied.
A Mandarin-speaking client paid Brockway $4,500 to handle six traffic violations he had received as a tour bus operator in Arizona. The client testified that he made clear he faced points on his insurance and the loss of his California driver’s license. He was told the fee was so high because it would cover Brockway’s travel and living expenses in Arizona.
Brockway said he traveled to Arizona the next day, 10 days before the client was to report to traffic court, and spoke to the clerk, who advised him to pay the bail. He said he mailed a money order to the court “and that took care of the matter as far as I was concerned.” He provided no evidence of his travel or expenses.
Six months later the client’s California driver’s license was suspended, he lost his job and was unemployed for six months. He repeatedly called Brockway’s employee, who either avoided the calls or hung up on him.
Brockway agreed to refund $2,500 following mediation over a fee dispute.
Another client, a Chinese-speaking woman who was a rape victim, paid Brockway $5,000 to assist in a criminal investigation. Brockway’s assistant advised her she could receive $200,000 in “reparations” for her injuries. She met with Brockway only once.
During the following two years, Brockway never asked the woman to obtain any psychological or medical evaluation and she finally demanded a refund. Brockway eventually refunded the entire fee.
In the fourth matter, a couple who owned a small Chinese herb business was denied a visa renewal and had 30 days to appeal. Brockway testified that he told the couple they were not eligible for legal status and should wait a year or two to prove that their business was a going concern that was profitable. He said he told them he would “resubmit the application kind of going through the back door rather than appeal to a proper authority with the INS.” The court found Brockway’s testimony was not believable.
After a year, the clients hired a new lawyer and requested the return of their file and the $6,500 fee. When the file was returned, it contained nothing but the papers the woman originally provided to Brockway. They sued Brockway, who paid $12,500 in settlement.
Bar prosecutors asked that Brockway be disbarred, and although the review judges found that his inaction exacerbated his clients’ “desperate situations,” they rejected the request.