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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

SUSPENSION/PROBATION

DISBARMENTS

MAXIMILIANO SERRANO GARCIA [#153387], 49, of Glendale, Ariz. was disbarred Jan. 13, 2005, and ordered to comply with rule 955.

Garcia was disbarred in Arizona for misconduct that would warrant discipline in California had it been committed in this state.

The Arizona Supreme Court found that Garcia repeatedly engaged in dishonest conduct by telling his clients he would meet them, repay their fees and perform the services for which he was hired. Instead, for the most part he abandoned them. When the Arizona State Bar petitioned a court for a conservatorship to take over his practice, Garcia did not show up for the hearing. He was ordered to make restitution to seven clients totaling $49,500.

In one matter, for instance, Garcia represented a defendant facing several misdemeanor criminal charges and probation revocation. He charged him $10,000, although the client paid only $7,500. He had the client admit to being in the U.S. illegally which the court later found to be an erroneous admission. Garcia withdrew from representation prematurely and his fee was excessive.

Another client paid him $5,000, but he did no work and did not refund the fee.

A woman hired Garcia to represent her husband in an immigration deportation hearing and tried to contact him to no avail. Eventually, the husband received a deportation letter. When she tried to take the letter to Garcia’s office, she found it abandoned.

A woman paid Garcia $10,000 in cash and gave him a car worth $10,000 to represent her husband. Garcia did no work and did not appear in court. Although he promised to refund the fee, he never did.

In recommending Garcia’s disbarment, the California State Bar Court noted that he abandoned eight clients in four years, failed to perform legal services, communicate with clients or reimburse unearned fees, and both misled and overcharged his clients.


GARY FREDERIC MYERS [#98819], 58, of Hemet was disbarred Feb. 5, 2005, and was ordered to comply with rule 955.

The State Bar Court found that Myers failed to comply with rule 955, as required by a 2004 disciplinary order. He did not file with the Supreme Court an affidavit stating that he notified his clients, opposing counsel and other pertinent parties of his suspension from practice.

In the underlying case, Myers was suspended for misconduct in one matter — he improperly withdrew from employment and failed to perform legal services competently, communicate with his client or cooperate with the bar’s investigation.


SUSPENSION/PROBATION

JAMES MICHAEL SIMMONS [#159726], 49, of Los Angeles 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 Jan. 13, 2005.

Simmons stipulated that he practiced law while suspended for non-payment of bar dues and non-compliance with MCLE requirements. He represented the plaintiff in a civil case and filed documents with the court while suspended.

In mitigation, he has no prior record of discipline.


ALEXANDER FU-PING SUN [#149437], 52, of Arcadia was suspended for two years, stayed, placed on three years of probation with a six-month actual suspension and was ordered to take the MPRE within one year, comply with rule 955 and prove his rehabilitation. The order took effect Jan. 13, 2005.

Sun stipulated that he failed to maintain client funds in his trust account and misappropriated at least $21,908 that he was holding in trust for two people.

He was retained to represent a client who was sued by his former business partner. The two had sold their interest in a restaurant to a third party and had a dispute over how to divide the $22,000 in proceeds.

They entrusted the money to the former partner’s lawyer until the dispute was resolved. When the other lawyer withdrew from the case, Sun agreed to keep the money in trust. Sun believed he had his client’s approval to remove funds from his trust account to pay the client’s outstanding balance of $17,000. He repeatedly allowed the balance in his trust account to fall below $22,000.

Sun replaced the money by depositing personal funds into the trust account and he disbursed the money to the two former partners once their dispute was resolved.

In mitigation, Sun has no prior record of discipline and he has provided extensive pro bono services during his career. He also completed client trust accounting school.


THOMAS GEORGE KEY [#152520], 54, of Tustin was suspended for one year, stayed, and placed on two years of probation. The order took effect Jan. 13, 2005.

Key practiced law while suspended by filing a document with the court in one case.

In mitigation, he mistakenly believed the actual suspension had not begun when he filed the document and had arranged for a substitute attorney to take over the case. His client was not harmed.

The underlying discipline was imposed for misconduct in three matters, including failing to deposit client funds in a trust account, issuing checks against insufficient funds in his trust account, acts of moral turpitude, commingling business and client funds in the account and failing to reimburse the Client Security Fund for more than $6,000 in restitution it paid to a client, as he was required to do in a 1998 disciplinary stipulation. The first discipline was the result of his failure to refund unearned fees or to render appropriate accounts of client funds.


JUSTIN R. DAHLZ [#139783], 69, of South San Francisco was suspended for two years, stayed, placed on four years of probation with an 18-month actual suspension and was ordered to take the MPRE, comply with rule 955 and prove his rehabilitation. The order took effect Jan. 13, 2005.

Dahlz stipulated to misconduct in three matters.

In a personal injury matter, a couple hired him to represent them on a contingency fee basis. They later hired a different attorney and made clear to Dahlz that he no longer represented them. When their case settled, Dahlz received a check for $15,000 for one party that he endorsed and deposited in his trust account. He did not inform his ex-client that he had received the check.

He then received a second check for $15,000 payable to the other party, her new lawyer and Dahlz. Dahlz told the woman he was withholding $12,000 in legal fees. He actually owed the other party $3,000 from the $15,000 he never disclosed having received. Dahlz allowed the balance in his trust account to fall below $3,000.

Even after the couple informed Dahlz they’d hired a new lawyer, Dahlz filed a civil complaint on behalf of the woman and continued to represent the man.

In the second matter, also a personal injury case, Dahlz received settlement funds and made a partial payment to his client’s medical provider in addition to payment made by the insurance company. Dahlz was required to maintain $2,000 in his trust account to repay the insurer, but allowed the balance to fall below that amount.

He eventually paid half the money to the insurer and gave his client a check for $1,500.

Dahlz also acted as an accountant to prepare business and personal tax returns. A couple hired him to handle an IRS deficiency matter and he prepared an amended tax return showing his clients owed $4,098. The couple purchased a cashier’s check for that amount with the understanding that Dahlz would pay the IRS.

Dahlz then wrote several checks or made withdrawals from his trust account that were not for the benefit of his clients and never paid the IRS. The clients received a notice that they owed $6,500 and later a notice that they owed even more. Although Dahlz assured them he had paid the $4,098, he had not. They sought a refund that he finally paid more than two years later, after the clients complained to the State Bar.

Dahlz stipulated to three counts of misappropriating client funds and committing acts of moral turpitude, and to representing a client without authority. He also issued checks and authorized automatic payments from his client trust account for personal and non-client-related business.

Dahlz was disciplined in 2002 for failing to perform legal services competently and improperly withdrawing from employment and in 1996 for failing to maintain the required balance in his client trust account.


STEPHEN JAMES BUCHANAN [#142640], 62, of Los Angeles was suspended for five years, stayed, placed on probation for five years with a three-year actual suspension and was ordered to comply with rule 955, make restitution and prove his rehabilitation. The order took effect Jan. 21, 2005. He subsequently resigned from the bar April 10.

Buchanan maintained offices in Daly City and Los Angeles, where he lives, and visited the northern California office every two or three weeks. That office was operated by an office manager, Alfredo Coh, responsible for marketing the business and bringing in new clients, and a secretary, Cora Luna.

Buchanan relied on Coh and Luna to negotiate first and second settlement offers with insurance companies and directed them to bring him into a case after the third settlement offer.

After Buchanan and his partner decided to close the Daly City office, he told Coh and Luna to not take any new clients. While the office was winding down, Coh and Luna were arrested for insurance fraud in a case unrelated to Buchanan’s case. (They had not been tried at the time of Buchanan’s State Bar disciplinary proceeding.)

Despite the arrests, Buchanan made no changes to any of his procedures or supervision in the Daly City office, except he instructed insurance companies to send all settlement checks to his Los Angeles office.

He soon began to receive complaints from clients that they had not received their share of settlements. When he confronted Coh, according to a State Bar Court judge’s findings, Coh admitted that he stole between $50,000 and $75,000 from 10 to 12 clients. Buchanan did not report that information to law enforcement, nor did he inform his clients.

Buchanan refinanced his home and borrowed money to reimburse his clients, although he kept no records of the reimbursements.

Buchanan stipulated to 18 counts of misconduct, including failing to perform legal services competently, maintain client funds in trust, promptly pay out client funds or communicate with clients and he committed several acts of moral turpitude.

Some clients lost money, had to wait to receive their funds, were subjected to lawsuits and lost their causes of action.

In mitigation, Buchanan cooperated with the bar’s investigation.

He was disciplined in 2001 for writing checks against insufficient funds in his client trust account.


THOMAS IRWIN ARMSTRONG [#160040], 43, of Irvine was suspended for six months, stayed, placed on one year of probation and was ordered to make restitution and take the MPRE within one year. The order took effect Jan. 22, 2005.

In a default matter, the State Bar Court found that Armstrong committed misconduct in two cases.

He associated with another attorney to represent two brothers in their effort to evict a third brother from a property they co-owned. Although Armstrong filed a complaint and default was entered against the third brother and another person living at the property, Armstrong did not appear for a status conference. He did not inform his clients about an order to show cause hearing or the court’s intent to dismiss the case. When he again failed to appear, the case was dismissed.

Neither the clients nor the other lawyer could reach Armstrong or obtain their files. When they did get the file, it did not contain any court documents about the dismissal. Although he wrote a check to refund the $7,600 fee, it bounced, and he never refunded any money to the clients.

The bar court found that Armstrong failed to perform legal services competently and improperly withdrew from representation.

In a second case, Armstrong was ordered to pay sanctions to another lawyer and failed to do so. The bar court found that he willfully disobeyed a court order.

In mitigation, he has no prior record of discipline.


ROSEMARIE BURGOS [#130444], 45, of Long Beach was suspended for one year, stayed, placed on three years of probation with a 120-day actual suspension and until she makes restitution, and was ordered to take the MPRE and comply with rule 955. If the actual suspension exceeds two years, she must prove her rehabilitation. The order took effect Jan. 22, 2005.

Burgos stipulated to misconduct in two matters.

In the first, she represented her client’s interests in her estate. On the date she was hired, she sent a letter to the client’s nephew notifying him he’d been removed as co-trustee of the estate. She asked him to return to her a document about the estate. Several months later the client died and Burgos sent the client’s nephews $80,000 each. She closed the estate without notifying the nephews.

She sent one nephew a check for $15,000 “representing a second distribution” from the estate and advising him that he had received his “due inheritance.” Burgos later closed her law office without notifying the nephews. She did not respond to at least eight phone calls from one nephew.

After Burgos closed her office, the other nephew wrote her a letter that stated that about $24,000 was not accounted for and complained that he and the other nephew had been unable to contact her for 18 months. That letter and a subsequent certified letter were returned as undeliverable.

Burgos stipulated that she failed to perform legal services competently, communicate with clients or keep them informed about developments in their cases, render an accounting of client funds, properly preserve client funds, promptly pay out client funds or cooperate with the bar’s investigation.

In a second matter, she represented the wife in a marital dissolution. Although the parties reached a tentative settlement agreement, the husband would not sign the agreement so Burgos’ client instructed her to take legal action. Burgos did no more work and did not return the client’s phone calls or respond to a letter.

She stipulated that she failed to perform legal services competently or respond to her client’s requests for information.

In mitigation, she has no prior record of discipline.


DAVID EUGENE ROBERTS [#51430], 66, of Fresno was suspended for one year, stayed, placed on two years of probation with a 120-day actual suspension and was ordered to take the MPRE and comply with rule 955. The order took effect Jan. 22, 2005.

Roberts stipulated to misconduct in seven cases.

He allowed a resigned attorney, Frank Dornay, to borrow his name and work under Roberts’ law license for about two years. Among other tasks, Dornay identified and secured clients, entered into attorney-client relationships, negotiated settlement of their claims, provided legal advice and drafted documents. He received 20 percent of the net attorney’s fees on each case.

Roberts’ misconduct in two cases was the result of Dornay’s representation of clients in personal injury and wrongful termination cases. In one matter, settlement proceeds were paid late and, in the other, no work was done on the case.

In four matters, Roberts failed to appear in court. He also wrote at least nine checks against insufficient funds in his client trust account.

Roberts was disciplined in 1990 following a conviction on two counts of failing to pay income taxes. In mitigation, he paid one client $2,000 in restitution.


DANIEL ANTON MICKLIS [#158515], 53, of Palm Springs was suspended for two years, stayed, placed on two years of probation with an 18-month suspension and was ordered to prove his rehabilitation. The order took effect Feb. 5, 2005.

Micklis did not comply with rule 955, as ordered in a 2003 discipline. He did not file the required affidavit with the Supreme Court stating that he notified his clients and all other pertinent parties of his suspension.

The original discipline was imposed for failing to perform legal services competently, return client files, promptly refund unearned fees, return client phone calls or cooperate with the bar’s investigation, and he committed acts of moral turpitude.

In mitigation, he had severe family problems at the time Micklis owed the affidavit.


TRACY LYNN WILLIAMS [#161265], 41, of Costa Mesa In two separate cases, the probation was revoked, the stay of suspension was lifted and she was suspended for two years and until she proves her rehabilitation. Both orders took effect Feb. 12, 2005.

Williams did not comply with probation conditions attached to discipline orders imposed in 2002 and 2003. She failed to submit several quarterly probation reports or evidence that she complied with conditions attached to the Lawyer Assistance Program. She did submit some reports late.

Williams originally was disciplined in 2001 for seven acts of misconduct, including failing to file a bankruptcy proceeding for one client for 14 months and not returning the client’s many phone calls or refunding the advance fee.

As part of that discipline, Williams was ordered to comply with rule 955, but she submitted the required affidavit to the Supreme Court late. As a result, she was given a stayed suspension in 2003.

She also was disciplined in 2002 for failure to perform legal services competently, return client files, refund unearned fees, communicate with a client or cooperate with the bar's investigation.


NELSON ROSS BOYLAN [#75899], 53, of Chilcoot 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 within one year and prove his rehabilitation. The order took effect Feb. 12, 2005.

Boylan stipulated to misconduct in six matters, all but one having to do with clients who hired him to resolve their outstanding credit card debt. He worked with a credit counseling firm at the time he was retained, but later severed all ties with the firm and failed to take any files with him. In each case, Boylan stipulated that he failed to perform legal services competently. He refunded unearned fees in five of the six cases.

In mitigation, he cooperated with the bar’s investigation and he made some restitution prior to complaints to the bar.

Boylan also was disciplined in 1998 for advising a client who was involved in a divorce case in Washington to engage in criminal conduct that could violate that state’s criminal code. The client had retained a Washington lawyer whose associate illegally wiretapped the client’s wife’s phone. At one point, Boylan met with the client and his attorney and advised them to destroy the tapes and pay off the individual who made them.


MILTON CHARLES GRIMES [#59437], 59, of Los Angeles was suspended for one year, stayed, placed on two years of probation and was ordered to prove his rehabilitation and take the MPRE within one year. The order took effect Feb. 12, 2005.

Grimes was publicly reproved in 2003 but failed to comply with probation conditions; he did not provide proof that he passed the MPRE nor did he submit proof of completion of six hours of MCLE courses in attorney-client relations.

The reproval was imposed for his failure to respond to a client’s letters regarding the status of his case.

Grimes also received a 60-day actual suspension in 1990 for an income tax matter.

In mitigation, he cooperated with the bar’s investigation.


RICHARD ALLEN LENARD [#153916], 49, of Anaheim was suspended for one year, stayed, placed on two years of probation with a 30-day actual suspension and was ordered to make restitution. The order took effect Feb. 12, 2005.

Lenard stipulated to two counts of misconduct. In the first, he failed to remove his partner’s name from his law firm’s client trust account after the partner was disbarred.

In a personal injury case, he failed to promptly pay a client his settlement funds. After the money was deposited in Lenard’s client trust account, his employees embezzled client funds, including the $16,847 that was owed to that particular client.

Although Lenard informed his client about the embezzlement and promised to make full restitution, he did not do so. The State Bar Client Security Fund reimbursed the client more than $11,000.

Lenard also was disciplined in 2003 for misconduct in five personal injury cases. He failed to perform legal services competently or deposit client funds in a client trust account and committed acts of moral turpitude.


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