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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.

DISBARMENTS

JOSEFINA MARIA WALKER [#80494], 52, of Newport Beach was disbarred April 17, 2003, and was ordered to comply with rule 955 of the California Rules of Court.

The State Bar Court found that Walker committed seven counts of misconduct, including misappropriating $18,000 and failing to render an accounting, promptly return client funds, maintain client funds in a trust account or keep her address current with the bar.

The misconduct involved three clients.

An Italian couple who spoke no English hired Walker to handle a surrogate parent matter, for which they paid her $68,000. Walker faxed them a list of expenses totaling more than $27,000, but the couple’s Italian lawyer asked for an itemized statement and explanation to justify the expenses.

When the director of the surrogacy center suspended her work due to health problems, the couple’s Italian lawyer asked Walker how much money was in the trust account in order to determine whether to proceed. Walker’s assistant responded that $4,800 had been spent and she requested another $7,000.

Walker later told the clients there was $18,000 in the trust account, but wrote, “I do not consider it my top priority to respond this week.” In fact, the account had a negative balance for much of the time it was supposed to hold the clients’ funds.

When the surrogate complained she had not been paid, the clients’ lawyer instructed Walker to pay the surrogate and transfer the remaining funds to the clients with a detailed accounting. Several weeks later, the lawyer again asked that the funds be returned.

In response, Walker wrote, “Since the (clients) apparently think that I will abscond on the next bus to Timbuktu where I will live in glorious splendour (sic) on their funds, I am willing to hire [someone] from an employment agency to do the work.” But she insisted the clients pay for the temporary worker and release her from any liability should the worker make any accounting mistakes.

The Italian lawyer refused and again demanded the remaining funds.

Walker was required to maintain at least $57,000 in the trust account on behalf of the clients and did not do so.

Two other clients also hired Walker to handle their surrogacy matter, paying her $15,500 plus $7,000 in attorney’s fees. When the first surrogate did not work out, they asked Walker to find someone else and asked for an accounting of their funds. Several months later, they said the time to find a surrogate had expired and again asked for an accounting. The clients finally fired Walker and demanded a return of their money. She indicated they owed her money, without itemizing any expenses.

In recommending her disbarment, State Bar Court Judge Paul Bacigalupo said Walker’s actions “warrant the highest level of public protection.”


JOHN RAYMOND DEMPSEY [#102658], 47, of Fountain Valley was disbarred April 17, 2003, and ordered to comply with rule 955.

Dempsey failed to comply with a previous rule 955 order by not filing with the Supreme Court an affidavit stating that he notified all clients, opposing counsel and other interested parties of his 2001 suspension from practice.

That discipline was issued because Dempsey did not comply with probation conditions attached to a 1997 suspension for failing to pay child support for nine months.

Failure to comply with rule 955 is grounds for disbarment.


ERIC LAWRENCE LEIMSEIDER [#69116], 54, of Oakland was disbarred April 17, 2003, and was ordered to comply with rule 955.

Leimseider failed to comply with a 2001 rule 955 order by not filing the required affidavit with the Supreme Court. The underlying misconduct included a failure to refund unearned fees in three client matters, failure to disburse or account for one client’s funds or inform a client about significant developments, and he improperly withdrew from employment.


WALTER PERCY WILLIAMS II [#146569], 43, of Riverside was disbarred May 3, 2003, and ordered to comply with rule 955.

Percy failed to comply with rule 955, as ordered in a 2002 discipline, by not filing the required affidavit with the Supreme Court stating that he notified his clients, opposing counsel and other interested parties of his suspension.

The discipline was the result of mishandling two matters by failing to promptly pay out client funds, account for funds, communicate with clients or cooperate with the bar’s investigation.


SUSPENSION/PROBATION

FRANK LEONARD SMITH III [#60022], 56, of Nobleton, Florida was suspended for one year, stayed, placed on two years of probation with a one-month actual suspension and was ordered to take the MPRE within one year. The order took effect April 6, 2003.

Smith stipulated that he was disciplined in Florida for acts that would warrant discipline in California. He failed to promptly pay out client funds or preserve the identity of client funds in a trust account.

He deposited nearly $130,000 from a client in his trust account; the money was to be used for legal fees and as a deposit towards buying out the client’s partner. Smith transferred almost $90,000 to his operating account. When the client asked for the return of the unused trust money, Smith gave him $50,000. At that point, he should have owed the client about $27,000, but his trust and operating accounts held only $4,000.

He agreed through fee arbitration to repay another $50,000.

In mitigation, Smith had instructed his secretary to deposit the funds in his trust account, but she failed to do so. He fired the secretary when he learned she was forging checks and the client was fully reimbursed. Smith resigned from the Florida bar because of personal and health problems, including divorce and foreclosure on his home.

He was privately reproved in 1994.


MICHAEL GUZMAN JUAREZ [#151022], 41, of Brawley was suspended for two years, stayed, actually suspended for 120 days and until he makes restitution and the State Bar Court grants a motion to terminate the suspension. He also was ordered to take the MPRE and comply with rule 955. If the actual suspension exceeds two years, he must prove his rehabilitation. The order took effect April 6, 2003.

In a default hearing, the State Bar Court found Juarez committed misconduct in two client matters. He failed to perform legal services competently, communicate with clients or promptly refund unearned fees and he improperly withdrew from employment and committed an act of moral turpitude.

In one matter, he represented a couple in a bankruptcy. They met with a woman who represented that she was Juarez’ assistant and signed what was described to them as a voluntary bankruptcy petition. The clients then were unable to contact Juarez. A new attorney learned the petition was never filed.

Juarez told a second bankruptcy client that he had filed a bankruptcy petition when he had not, and his staff told the client Juarez was working on it. Five months later, the client reached Juarez on his cell phone and he said he would provide a status update in a week. A week later, the phone was no longer in service.

He moved his office and changed his phone number without telling either client.


RICHARD LAVERN WYRICK [#42504], 62, of Fresno was suspended for one year, stayed, placed on two years of probation with a six-month actual suspension and was ordered to take the MPRE within one year and comply with rule 955. The order took effect April 17, 2003.

Wyrick stipulated that he wrote at least 13 checks against insufficient funds in his client trust account and at least 20 personal checks against the account.

Wyrick has been disciplined twice.


GEORGE DAVID OLIVER [#146321], 55, of Sausalito was suspended for one year, stayed, placed on three years of probation and was ordered to take the MPRE within one year. The order took effect April 17, 2003.

Oliver pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor driving under the influence with one prior in 1998.

He also wrote two checks for insufficient funds, for $3,000 and $1,000, against his client trust account.

In mitigation, Oliver cooperated with the bar’s investigation, he had no prior record of discipline, he was voluntarily evaluated by a substance abuse expert who concluded he is not dependent on drugs or alcohol, and he hired a bookkeeping service.


JOSEPH EDWARD SHERIDAN [#62759], 53, of Long Beach was suspended for 150 days and was ordered to comply with rule 955. The order took effect April 17, 2003.

Sheridan failed to comply with a rule 955 order by not submitting to the Supreme Court an affidavit stating he notified his client, opposing counsel and other interested parties of his 2001 suspension from practice.

He has been disciplined three times: in 1994 for misconduct in five client matters, in 1998 for his actions in two matters and in 2001 for misconduct in two matters. His wrongdoing included failing to perform with competence, communicate with clients, return client files or cooperate with the bar’s investigation.

In mitigation, he was suffering from extreme stress and tension as a result of family health problems, the impending breakup of his marriage and a change of careers.


PETER GREGORY SCHUMAN [#182365], 36, of Fountain Valley was suspended for one year, stayed, placed on three years of probation with an actual 60-day suspension and was ordered to take the MPRE within one year. The order took effect April 17, 2003.

Schuman stipulated to misconduct in three matters.

In the first, he represented two clients who were the driver and passenger in a car that was involved in an accident. He did not inform them about possible conflicting interests or get their informed written consent.

Schuman settled one matter for $9,000, but after depositing the funds in his client trust account, he transferred the money to a different account, not identified as a trust account. Although one medical provider was paid, Schuman did not pay another for three years. He also never filed a complaint on behalf of the second client and allowed the statute of limitations to expire.

In another case, he represented a client in a property matter, but failed to appear at two mandatory settlement conferences and then substituted the client in to represent herself. He didn’t tell the client sanctions had been imposed and ignored her request that he refund unearned fees.

Schuman also was hired to obtain a student visa for a Vietnamese student; the matter was being heard in Hanoi. Neither Schuman nor any of his representatives appeared at the hearing and the application was denied. The student did not receive any refund of his $8,000 fees.

Schuman stipulated to failing to perform legal services competently, refund unearned fees, respond to client inquiries, account for or disburse client funds or properly maintain his client trust account and he represented clients with possible adverse interests.

In mitigation, he cooperated with the bar’s investigation, and at the time of the misconduct, his office was firebombed, temporarily interfering with his ability to practice.


GEOFFREY OJO [#189211], 45, of Los Angeles was suspended for three years, stayed, placed on three years of probation with an actual 13-month suspension, and was ordered to prove his rehabilitation, take the MPRE and comply with rule 955.

The order took effect April 17, 2003. Ojo owned two life insurance policies of $100,000 each on the lives of his parents; he was the primary beneficiary.

In December 1999, he was advised by his estranged brother that his parents died in an automobile accident. Despite his distrust of the brother, Ojo submitted to the Nigerian High Court an affidavit that his parents had died.

Without seeking independent verification, he submitted their death certificates to the insurer. An investigator learned that the parents had not died and the claim was denied.

Ojo stipulated that he engaged in a course of conduct involving gross negligence, an act of moral turpitude.

In mitigation, Ojo is bipolar and has no prior record of discipline.


DAVID ELLIOT KENNER [#41425], 61, of Encino 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 April 17, 2003.

Kenner stipulated to failing to file a federal income tax return for 1994, a misdemeanor. His action did not constitute moral turpitude.

He was sentenced to three years of probation, nine months of home detention, $20,000 restitution and had to pay $1,500 in prosecution costs.

In mitigation, he has no prior record of discipline and cooperated with the bar’s investigation.


AMANDA LOIS LAMAR [#184715], 34, of Stockton was suspended for three years, stayed, actually suspended for 60 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, she must comply with rule 955; if it exceeds two years, she must prove her rehabilitation. The order took effect April 17, 2003.

In a default proceeding, the State Bar Court found that Lamar failed to perform legal services competently, communicate with her client, inform the client of significant developments or keep her address current with the bar, and she improperly withdrew from employment.

She was hired on a contingency basis to represent a client in a wrongful termination matter. The client told her she was having difficulty getting medical coverage for a bone marrow transplant and that she believed the medical condition caused her termination. Lamar filed the proper complaint form and later filed suit.

The case settled and the attorney for the defendant mailed a settlement agreement to Lamar to be signed by the client and asked the court to take the case off calendar. He left three telephone messages and sent two letters inquiring about the settlement offer. Hearing nothing, he filed a motion to dismiss the case several months later, citing delay in prosecution. The court granted the motion.

Lamar never filed an opposition or requested a hearing and she didn’t tell the client that the case was dismissed. She did not return her client’s phone calls for more than a year.


JOHN A. HURLEY [#145907], 48, of Anaheim Hills was suspended for two years, stayed, placed on three years of probation with an actual 60-day suspension, and was ordered to prove his rehabilitation. The order took effect April 17, 2003.

Hurley stipulated that he failed to comply with probation conditions attached to a 2000 public reproval: he completed ethics school, took the MPRE and submitted proof of restitution late, and he submitted a quarterly probation late and did not submit two others.

The public reproval was imposed for representing clients with potentially adverse interests.

Hurley was privately reproved in 1998 for failing to perform legal services competently, return client files or refund unearned fees.

In mitigation, he was under severe financial stress and was involved in ongoing child custody proceedings.


HAIM HABIB [#127122], 50, of Agana, Guam was suspended for two years, stayed, actually suspended for 60 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 April 17, 2003.

Habib was suspended in Guam for failing to provide competent representation and for improperly withdrawing as counsel by failing to appear at trial while he was still attorney of record for his client.

After representing his client for eight years, he tried to withdraw five days before trial. He told the hearing judge his client was hostile to him and the hostility would adversely affect her case. Another attorney agreed to review the case, but the client was ill and could not meet with him, nor did she have the money to pay a new lawyer.

Habib did not seek permission to withdraw from the case and he did not appear for trial. The court granted judgment against the client of $76,570.

The State Bar Court found that had the misconduct been committed in California, it would have constituted improper withdrawal from employment and failure to perform legal services competently.

Habib did not participate in the proceedings and his default was entered.


SYDNEY JACK GORDON [#47916], 72, of Van Nuys - Gordon's probation was revoked, the stay of suspension was lifted and he was suspended for three years, stayed, placed on five years of probation with an actual two-year suspension. He also was ordered to make restitution, prove his rehabilitation, take the MPRE and comply with rule 955. The order took effect April 17, 2003.

Gordon stipulated to misconduct in 13 matters in 1997 and was placed on seven years of probation and actually suspended for 18 months. He also was ordered to make restitution of $69,000.

The misconduct resulted from not adequately supervising his staff, not spending enough time reviewing cases and not adequately monitoring his client trust account. He said his staff misappropriated client funds. He closed his law office.

Gordon told the bar court he is unable to make restitution due to severe financial difficulties.

He did not comply with probation conditions by failing to pay restitution or submit 11 quarterly probation reports. He also did not submit reports from a certified public accountant.

In mitigation, five character witnesses testified as to his good moral character, and most believed he would make restitution if he were financially able to do so.


GREGORY DEAN ESAU [#111487], 47, of Bellevue, Washington was suspended for six months, stayed, placed on two years of probation and was ordered to take the MPRE within one year. The order took effect April 17, 2003.

Esau stipulated that he failed to comply with probation conditions attached to a 2001 private reproval. He did not submit four quarterly reports, complete three hours of MCLE or take the MPRE.

The discipline was imposed after Esau stipulated to a reprimand in the state of Washington for failing to place funds in a client trust account, maintain records of client funds, promptly pay out client funds or properly terminate employment.


ELIZABETH ANN BECKER [#133124], 58, of Sacramento was suspended for two years, stayed, placed on three years of probation with an actual one-year suspension, and was ordered to make restitution, prove her rehabilitation, take the MPRE and comply with rule 955. The order took effect April 17, 2003.

After receiving a $99,000 settlement for her client, a disagreement arose over the fee, and the client asked Becker to keep the disputed amount — about $8,000 — in trust until it was resolved. She agreed and gave nearly $89,000 to the client.

Over the next few months, the balance in the trust account dropped to about $169. Becker misappropriated at least $7,723.

A fee arbitrator awarded the client $8,393, which included the disputed amount plus the arbitration filing fee.

Becker admitted she spent the client’s money, but agreed to repay it with interest. She has repaid about half.

She stipulated that she failed to maintain disputed funds in trust or promptly pay out client funds and that by misappropriating client funds, she committed acts of moral turpitude.

In mitigation, she has no prior record of discipline and she cooperated with the bar’s investigation.


TIMOTHY FRANCIS PERRY [#77738], 51, of Berkeley was suspended for two years, stayed, and placed on one year of probation with a 30-day actual suspension and until he proves his rehabilitation. The order took effect April 18, 2003.

Perry filed an affidavit of compliance with rule 955, as required by a 2002 discipline, late. He was under the mistaken belief that his attorney would notify him when the declaration was due to be filed.

The discipline was imposed for failure to perform legal services competently, refund unearned fees, maintain funds in a client trust account and keep a client informed of significant developments.


RICHARD ALLEN LENARD [#153916], 47, of Anaheim was suspended for two years, stayed, placed on three years of probation with an actual one-year suspension and until he makes restitution, and was ordered to take the MPRE and comply with rule 955. The order took effect April 18, 2003.

Lenard stipulated to misconduct in five personal injury cases involving Vietnamese clients. He received settlement funds for the clients but did not maintain an adequate balance in his client trust account. Some clients never met or talked with Lenard.

He allowed three employees to add their names as alternate payees on numerous checks written against the trust account, allowing the account to be overdrawn. Lenard reported his employees to the police and two were prosecuted for felony grand theft.

Lenard stipulated that he failed to properly supervise his staff and breached his fiduciary duty to his clients.

He stated that his employees had him sign duplicate distribution checks, which caused the trust account to be overdrawn. In addition, after signing distribution checks and returning them to the staff for mailing, his employees typed in their names as additional payees and cashed the checks.

Lenard went on local Vietnamese radio to warn the community about his staff’s actions and provided contact information so victims could reach him directly. He also has changed his settlement distribution practices.


VALERIE ANSEL KARPMAN [#71425], 59, of San Francisco was suspended for three years, stayed, actually suspended for two years and until she makes restitution, proves her rehabilitation and the State Bar Court terminates the actual suspension, and was ordered to take the MPRE and comply with rule 955. The order took effect April 18, 2003.

In a default proceeding, the bar court found that Karpman failed to maintain client funds in her trust account, and she entered into an improper business transaction and committed multiple acts of moral turpitude.

In a medical malpractice suit that settled for $300,000, Karpman’s client received a net recovery of $176,000 after paying attorney’s fees and costs. The client also verbally agreed to loan Karpman $21,940 at 12 percent interest. Although Karpman executed a promissory note, she didn’t provide any security for the loan and nothing was in writing.

She did not repay the loan on time, but 18 months later she indicated she planned to pay the principal and interest by June 30, 2001. She told the client she was having serious money problems and was struggling to stay afloat financially.

Despite two promises to wire the money to the client the next day, she didn’t do so. The court found that making misrepresentations to the client and later to a State Bar investigator amounted to moral turpitude.

She also wrote two checks against insufficient funds in her client trust account.

In mitigation, Karpman practiced for 22 years without any discipline.


JAMES F. THOMPSON [#84309], 55, of Grass Valley was suspended for two years, stayed, and until he has proven his rehabilitation, and placed on five years of probation. The order took effect May 3, 2003.

Thompson stipulated to misconduct in four cases. He pleaded no contest in March 2002 to misdemeanor driving under the influence with one prior and in June 2002 to another misdemeanor DUI after overturning his car. In 2001, he was convicted of misdemeanor battery after a dispute with his domestic partner.

Thompson also was privately reproved in 1998.

In mitigation, he cooperated with the bar’s investigation, admitted his longstanding alcohol problem and has enrolled in the bar’s Lawyers Assistance Program.


CONRAD GEORGE WALKER [#34855], 65, of San Diego was suspended for one year, stayed, placed on two years of probation with an actual 60-day suspension and until he makes restitution 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 May 3, 2003.

Walker stipulated that in a matter for which he was hired to incorporate a trucking business, he did not deposit his client’s funds into a client trust account, keep his client informed about developments in her case or competently perform legal services.

Although he filed the incorporation papers, the filing fee check was dishonored, and he never paid the fee. The secretary of state cancelled the incorporation of the trucking company, but Walker did not tell his client.

He also did not make any effort to avoid the cancellation.

Walker was privately reproved in 2001 for failing to perform legal services with competence.

In mitigation, he paid the client’s accounting expenses since she had to amend her tax returns as a result of the cancellation, he later filed new articles of incorporation and he has worked as a judge pro tem in San Diego Superior Court since 1988.


ROBERT EDWARD GLASSER [#47291], 59, of Newport Beach was suspended for one year, stayed, placed on three years of probation with an actual 30-day suspension and was ordered to take the MPRE within a year. The order took effect May 3, 2003.

Glasser deposited $10,000 advanced by a divorce client into his trust account, and paid himself the entire amount two weeks later. He used another client’s funds to pay the filing fee in the dissolution matter.

Another client paid him $8,500, of which he paid $3,000 that was owed to an accounting firm, wrote two checks totaling $2,500 to pay his personal expenses and wired himself $4,000. He took $1,000 more than he was entitled to. The bank honored the check to the accounting firm, even though the account contained insufficient funds; he repaid the money from personal funds as soon as he was notified of the overdraft.

He stipulated that he failed to maintain client funds in trust or maintain records of client funds.

Glasser also was disciplined in 2000 for charging an illegal fee of more than $7,000.

In mitigation, he cooperated with the bar’s investigation and his clients were not harmed.


THOMAS J. DIXON [#146405], 47, of Sacramento was suspended for three years, stayed, placed on three years of probation with an actual one-year suspension and was ordered to make restitution, take the MPRE and comply with rule 955. The order took effect May 3, 2003.

Dixon stipulated to 15 counts of misconduct in three consolidated matters.

He filed a civil action in a contingency fee case, but it was dismissed when Dixon missed two deadlines and did not respond to the court’s order to show cause why sanctions should not be imposed.

He failed to provide competent legal services, he didn’t notify his client of the dismissal, he improperly withdrew from representation and didn’t get the court’s permission to withdraw, and he disobeyed court orders.

The same client also retained Dixon in a breach of contract action, and although he filed a complaint, it was never served on the defendant and he did no further work.

Another client hired Dixon to prepare a power of attorney to enable her to help her 97-year-old aunt. The two women wanted to trade gravesites and asked Dixon to draft the necessary documents. Time was of the essence.

He did no work and did not return the client’s phone calls, and the elderly aunt died; she was buried at the client’s gravesite, a development that greatly distressed the client.

He did not refund his client’s unearned fee.

In the final case, he represented a client at trial and the jury returned a guilty verdict. When an appellate attorney took over the following year, Dixon did not return her phone calls or letters to help her get information about the case.

Dixon also did not cooperate with the bar’s investigation of his misconduct.

He was disciplined in 1995 for misconduct in six cases, including failing to perform legal services competently, promptly pay out client funds, deposit client funds in a trust account, refund unearned fees or cooperate with the bar’s investigation, and he committed acts of moral turpitude. His probation was extended in 1996 for not complying with rule 955.


KARINEH AVANESSIAN [#130048], 47, of Glendale was suspended for one year, stayed, placed on one year of probation with an actual 60-day suspension and was ordered to take the MPRE within a year. The order took effect May 3, 2003.

Avanessian stipulated that she did not advise the bar in writing that she employed as a paralegal an attorney who had resigned with charges pending following a criminal conviction.

The resigned attorney also appeared in court at Avanessian’s direction. He appeared at two court proceedings and at a status conference, and represented the client at binding arbitration proceedings.

Neither Avanessian nor the resigned attorney notified the court, opposing counsel or the arbitrator that he was not entitled to practice.


MOHAMMAD REZA NADIM [#129366], 55, 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 May 3, 2003.

He stipulated to misconduct in three cases.

He improperly withdrew from employment in a labor case. He filed a complaint against his client’s employer, but a discovery dispute ensued when opposing counsel said his discovery responses were insufficient.

Nadim advised his client to drop the case and when she declined, he asked her to sign a substitution of attorney. She did not want to do so without reviewing her file. After doing so, she still did not sign the substitution form. Nadim continued to advise her to hire a new lawyer and seek a continuance of her matter.

The client directly contacted the opposing counsel and unsuccessfully asked for a continuance. The opposing counsel wrote a letter to Nadim asking if he still represented the client, but he didn’t respond. He never was replaced as attorney of record.

He then failed to appear in court and later filed an untimely opposition to a motion by opposing counsel. He eventually was able to withdraw as counsel.

In a personal injury case, Nadim represented two clients with potentially adverse interests without obtaining their informed, written consent. He also failed to maintain complete records of all client funds, resulting in a negative balance in his trust account

In mitigation, he has no record of discipline and has performed extensive pro bono work.


JOHN HYONSUB SHIM [#150873], 43, of Glendale was suspended for two years, stayed, actually suspended for one year, and was ordered to take the MPRE and comply with rule 955. If the actual suspension exceeds two years, he must prove his rehabilitation. The order took effect May 3, 2002.

In a default proceeding, the State Bar Court found that Shim committed three acts of misconduct in one case. The lawsuit he filed for two clients was dismissed because he and his clients didn’t appear for trial and a default judgment was awarded to the defendant in the amount of $116,237 on a cross complaint.

The other party then filed a complaint alleging malicious prosecution and abuse of process against Shim and his clients. The clients cross complained against Shim.

None of the three appeared at a mandatory settlement conference and Shim was sanctioned $397, which he did not pay. He said he had filed for bankruptcy.

He did not appear at another hearing, pay sanctions or file with the court a copy of his bankruptcy petition. More sanctions were ordered.

The court found that the original civil suit was filed with malice and with an ulterior motive of forcing the defendant to pay money to Shim’s clients that they were not entitled to receive.

The bar court found that Shim disobeyed court orders, filed an unjust action and did not cooperate with the bar’s investigation.

He was disciplined twice previously. In 1997, he was privately reproved for a conviction for reckless driving involving alcohol and for violating the terms of an agreement in lieu of discipline by not filing quarterly probation reports.

He was publicly reproved in 2001 for failing to perform competently, communicate with a client or cooperate with the bar’s investigation. He had filed suit without his client’s knowledge, did not inform the client a cross complaint was filed and did not answer the cross complaint, which resulted in a default judgment of nearly $500,000.

Because the new misconduct occurred around the same time as the 2001 discipline, the court said the aggravating effect of prior discipline was diminished. Mitigation at the time included cooperation with the bar, severe emotional and financial stress, and family problems including depression, separation from his wife and foreclosure proceedings against his home.


FRED RAYMOND HUNTER JR. [#165381], 37, of Cancun, Mexico was suspended for three years, stayed, placed on three years of probation with an actual 18-month suspension and was ordered to take the MPRE and comply with rule 955. The order took effect May 3, 2003.

Hunter stipulated to misconduct in six matters, involving gross negligence in managing his client trust account.

He commingled personal and client funds and wrote checks for personal expenses against his client trust account, he failed to maintain funds received on behalf of numerous clients, misappropriating their settlement funds, he allowed the balance in the account to fall far below the required amount, and he wrote checks against insufficient funds, committing acts of moral turpitude.

Most of his clients were repaid without delay and before they were made aware of Hunter’s failure to properly maintain and distribute their money.

He said the problem began when he inadvertently wrote nine checks for personal expenses against the trust account. He lost track of the correct balance to be maintained and tried to correct the problem by depositing personal funds into the trust account. His bank was sold to another bank, leading to more confusion.

In addition, he sought a line of credit which was attached to his trust account instead of his personal account, resulting in more shortfalls.

He has no prior record of discipline.


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