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Caution! More than 196,000 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

DAVID ROHM CUNNINGHAM [#38892], 67, of Yountville was disbarred June 30, 2006, and was ordered to comply with rule 955 of the California Rules of Court.

In a default matter, the State Bar Court found that Cunningham committed three acts of misconduct, two involving moral turpitude and the third for failing to report a civil judgment against him to the bar.

Cunningham was one of two managing general partners in Yountville Office Building Investors, which owned and operated a commercial property known as Beard Plaza. As a fiduciary, he had a responsibility to maintain complete and accurate financial records for the partnership.

When he decided to leave the partnership in 2002, his partners asked for an accounting of all assets in order to valuate Cunningham's share, but he did not respond. In response to the partners' refusal to release him from the partnership, he gave himself unauthorized loans.

The State Bar Court found that he misappropriated $136,698, including money from the partnership's bank account, rent he owed for office space, and the value of 10 free parking spaces he provided to a tenant of Beard Plaza for whom he did legal work.

The partnership removed him as general partner and sued him, winning a civil judgment of $161,698 for fraud, conversion, constructive fraud, suppression of fact and concealment. He did not report the judgment to the bar as required.

The court agreed with bar prosecutors' argument that "misappropriation of this magnitude warrant(s) disbarment," despite Cunningham's 31 years of practice without discipline.


ROBERT ERICK HOLZINGER [#200278], 35, of Los Angeles was disbarred June 30, 2006, and was ordered to comply with rule 955.

Holzinger failed to comply with a previous rule 955 requirement by not filing with the Supreme Court an affidavit stating that he notified his clients, opposing parties and other pertinent parties of his suspension from practice. Failure to comply with rule 955 is grounds for disbarment. He did not participate in the proceedings and his default was entered.

The underlying discipline was imposed in 2005 for failing to refund unearned fees, improperly withdrawing from employment and for not complying with a rule 955 requirement in a 2004 discipline. He tried to file a 955 declaration but faxed it instead of filing it properly.

The earlier discipline was imposed after Holzinger stipulated to 11 counts of misconduct in seven consolidated cases. He did not return client phone calls, practiced law while suspended for failing to comply with MCLE requirements, wrote 67 checks against his client trust account for personal expenses and failed to appear at a client's criminal probation revocation hearing.

In recommending Holzinger's disbarment, the bar court said he "demonstrated an unwillingness to comply with the professional obligations and rules of court imposed on California attorneys although he has been given the opportunity to do so."


TERRENCE McGUIRE [#90675], 59, of Sylmar was disbarred July 5, 2006, and was ordered to comply with rule 955.

McGuire failed to meet the requirements of a 2005 disciplinary order that he comply with rule 955. He did not file with the Supreme Court an affidavit stating that he notified his clients and other interested parties of his suspension.

An immigration lawyer, McGuire stipulated to 28 counts of misconduct in 19 cases. Most of the counts involved failing to perform legal services competently, but McGuire also admitted to failing to inform clients of significant developments in their cases, refund unearned fees or protect attorney-client privilege, and he withdrew from representation without protecting his clients' interests.

He also was disciplined in 2004 for misusing his client trust account and failing to respond to a court order and, as a result, being sanctioned $500. He did not pay the sanction.


GREGORY A. MORRIS [#91425], 53, of Fresno was disbarred July 13, 2006, and was ordered to comply with rule 955.

In a default proceeding, the State Bar Court found that Morris committed misconduct involving moral turpitude over a five-year period. His misappropriated at least $166,793.53 in client funds, caused a client's signature to be affixed to a settlement check, wrote checks against insufficient funds in his client trust account, and improperly withdrew cash, issued checks and made payments from his trust account totaling at least $173,667.16.

He also failed to maintain funds in his trust account, promptly pay a medical bill for a client, failed to perform legal services competently, comply with probation conditions attached to a private reproval, or cooperate with the bar's investigation, and he engaged in the unauthorized practice of law and sought an agreement from a client to withdraw a disciplinary complaint.

Most of the misappropriation — more than $161,800 — involved the settlement funds of 21 personal injury clients.

In a personal injury case that settled for $1,000, Morris gave no money to his client and allowed the balance in his trust account to fall below the required amount. After being notified the client had filed a complaint with the bar, Morris agreed to pay the client $1,500. He then showed the client a power of attorney that purportedly bore the client's signature. When the client said he never signed the document, Morris offered another $500 to make up for the "mistake." He also dictated a letter for the client saying he wished to withdraw his complaint with the bar.

While he was suspended in 2004, he made a court appearance in one case and accepted a $2,000 fee in another.

Although Morris did not participate in the disbarment proceedings, the court noted that he deposited more than $27,800 of his own funds into his trust account.

He also was privately reproved in 2003 for depositing a judgment award check in a personal account rather than a trust account.


LAURA PADILLA BERGER [#108045], 57, of Carmel was disbarred July 13, 2006, and was ordered to comply with rule 955.

In a default proceeding, the State Bar Court found that Berger committed six acts of misconduct, including an act of moral turpitude, in three matters.

In January 2001, she was hired to handle a divorce case and subsequently provided legal advice for the next six months. In August, Berger requested inactive status with the bar and asked that the change be retroactive to Jan. 1. According to the bar court, Berger changed her status in order to avoid a suspension for nonpayment of bar dues. When she filed the request, she was aware that attorneys are not entitled to retroactive enrollment as inactive members for any time during which they practiced law.

She continued to handle the divorce matter and did not inform her client she was ineligible to practice. She returned to active status in November 2002.

In 2004, when her client requested her file, Berger never provided it.

The court found that she committed an act of moral turpitude, failed to keep a client informed of significant developments in her case and did not withdraw from the case while inactive.

In a second matter, she accepted $4,500 in fees to mediate a dissolution. Although the matter proceeded routinely for 14 months, Berger stopped working on the case without notice.

Berger also did not keep her address up to date with the bar and she did not comply with a rule 955 requirement that was part of a 2004 discipline. That matter was the result of her failure to perform legal services competently, communicate with clients, return unearned fees, render an accounting or return a client file, and she improperly withdrew from representation.

In recommending Berger's disbarment, bar court Judge Pat McElroy wrote, "In addition to willfully violating the Supreme Court's order requiring her to give notice of her prior disciplinary suspension, (Berger) has also committed multiple acts of misconduct, including an act of moral turpitude and intentional dishonesty . . . Such misconduct further demonstrates (her) inability to conform to professional norms and a lack of concern for potential harm to her clients and the public."


SUSPENSION/PROBATION

DANIEL EDOUARD CHEN [#190061], 37, of Newport Beach was suspended for three years, stayed, placed on four years of probation with an actual two-year suspension, and was ordered to prove his rehabilitation, make restitution and comply with rule 955. The order took effect June 29, 2006.

Chen stipulated to 17 acts of misconduct in six matters, some resulting from his association with a non-lawyer whose actions involved dishonesty.

Chen was the chief executive officer, chief financial officer and secretary of Thunderdome, A Law Corporation (TLC), in West Covina. His primary office was elsewhere, however, and he spent little time in West Covina. Chen maintains that Luis Salas, his non-attorney associate, opened another office in Riverside without his knowledge.

Salas already worked at the West Covina address for another lawyer who previously occupied the premises. Chen and Salas were signatories for TLC's general account.

According to the stipulation, Salas prepared bankruptcy petitions falsely purporting that they were prepared in connection with TLC and listing Chen as attorney of record. He arranged for other lawyers to make appearances in the bankruptcy cases and mailed solicitations under the TLC name to persons whose homes were in foreclosure.

Chen was unaware of Salas's activities. After he ended his relationship with Salas, Chen did not dissolve TLC or close its general bank account.

Chen admitted that he failed to perform legal services competently by not taking sufficient steps to stop Salas from fraudulently using his identity to pursue bankruptcy cases, he aided in the unauthorized practice of law, allowed the balance in his client trust account to fall below the required amount, failed to notify clients of his receipt of settlement funds or promptly distribute the funds, and committed acts of moral turpitude through gross negligence.

In one case, for example, a client was led to believe she had hired TLC to file bankruptcy after she received a solicitation from Salas. Without Chen's knowledge, Salas directed a non-attorney to present herself as a TLC representative at the client's home. The woman told the client that Chen was the attorney who could help save her home.

The client later met with Salas at TLC's offices, where he told her that he would handle the bankruptcy but Chen would be in charge. The woman paid $450 of a $1,200 fee.

Without Chen's knowledge, Salas filed a Chapter 13 bankruptcy petition, listing Chen as attorney of record.

The court ordered Chen to collect from the client and forward current monthly payments on any debt secured by her house to the secured lienholder. Plan payments were to be sent to the trustee. Chen wasn't aware of the order because Salas concealed it.

Salas received more than $1,100 for a mortgage payment but he did not send the money to the mortgage holder or deposit it in a client trust account.

Salas hired another attorney to meet with the client, who provided more money for various payments. Salas kept some and gave some to the trustee.

The mortgage holder filed a motion for relief from the automatic stay in the bankruptcy because it had not received the client's mortgage payments. Salas concealed the motion from Chen, who did not oppose it. The motion was granted and the bank foreclosed on the client's home.

Chen also was disciplined in 2003 for mishandling his client trust account and committing an act of moral turpitude. His misconduct was the result of failing to supervise an employee.

In mitigation, Chen admitted that his office management skills were deficient, he was performing extensive community service at the time of the misconduct, reported Salas' illegal activities to the authorities and has agreed to pay restitution to three clients for funds taken by Salas.


DAVID REED DOWELL [#55145], 59, of Spartanburg, S.C. was suspended for one year, stayed, placed on two years of probation with a 90-day actual suspension and was ordered to take the MPRE within one year, comply with rule 955 and prove his rehabilitation. The order took effect June 29, 2006.

Dowell failed to comply with probation conditions attached to a 2002 stipulation — he did not file timely quarterly reports or proof of attendance at ethics school.

The underlying suspension was filed for his failure to perform legal services competently or communicate with clients.

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

Dowell lives out of state, does not practice law and doesn't intend to do so.


ANDREW J. DAVIS JR. [#24255], 77, of West Covina was suspended for two years, stayed, placed on three years of probation and was ordered to comply with rule 955 and prove his rehabilitation. The order took effect June 29, 2006.

Davis stipulated to two acts of misconduct that resulted from his office manager's dishonesty.

He maintained his primary office in Los Angeles and had a second office in Stockton. His office manager was a trusted employee, but was not a signator to the office trust account. Shortly after the office manager left for Cambodia, Davis received notification from his bank that two checks, for $2,500 each, had bounced. Davis had kept pre-signed trust account checks in a secured drawer for emergencies.

Davis closed the account immediately and demanded an explanation from the office manager, whom he reported to police. The man deposited $6,000 into Davis' account and sent him a copy of the deposit slip with a note reading, "May God bless you."

Davis subsequently closed the Stockton office.

He stipulated that he failed to perform legal services competently by not supervising his employee and also failed to maintain client funds in trust.

Davis was disciplined in 2004 for similar misconduct, also resulting from his bookkeeper's dishonesty.

In mitigation, he demonstrated remorse.


ROBERT JAMES OHLWEILER [#117384], 54, of San Diego was suspended for two years, stayed, placed on two years of probation with a 30-day actual suspension, and was ordered to take the MPRE within one year and prove his rehabilitation. The order took effect June 30, 2006.

Ohlweiler was disciplined in Ohio for neglecting legal matters entrusted to him by six clients. His misconduct in Ohio would have resulted in discipline in California if committed here.

He completed a two-year monitoring program that included random alcohol testing by a California treatment provider and he made restitution.

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


DAVID MILTON BROWNE [#93576], 50, of Woodland Hills was suspended for one year, stayed, placed on probation for one year and was ordered to take the MPRE within one year. The order took effect June 30, 2006.

Browne stipulated that he failed to perform legal services competently in a civil lawsuit he filed for a client. He failed to appear at a hearing to compel interrogatory responses, did not abide by the court's order and his client's default was entered.

Browne canceled a deposition the day it was scheduled and paid the $140 court reporter fee with a bad check. He subsequently failed to appear at a status conference or a hearing for an order to show cause, and his client's default was entered. He succeeded in having the default set aside but was sanctioned $2,000.

The other party won a small claims judgment against him for $2,552; he paid $2,952.

In mitigation, he had no record of discipline in more than 25 years of practice.


JAMES HOWARD WHARTON [#64718], 64, of Norco was suspended for six months, 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 June 30, 2006.

Wharton pleaded guilty in 2005 to DUI and driving under the influence with a blood alcohol level of .08 or more. At the time, he was on probation for a previous DUI conviction.

The State Bar Court concluded that the 2005 conviction constituted misconduct warranting discipline.

Wharton did not participate in the proceedings. He had no prior discipline in more than 19 years of practice.


STEVEN JEFFREY RIGGS [#147745], 47, of Irvine Probation was revoked, the previous 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 will be given for a period of involuntary inactive enrollment that began March 16, 2006. The order took effect July 2, 2006.

He failed to submit seven quarterly probation reports, pay the filing fee for arbitration requested by his clients, submit proof of attendance at ethics school or keep his address current with the State Bar.

The underlying discipline was imposed in 2004 after Riggs stipulated to misconduct in four cases, including failing to refund advance fees, return client papers and property, perform legal services competently, cooperate with the bar's investigation, provide a complete accounting of legal services rendered or comply with probation conditions attached to a 2001 public reproval for misconduct involving four clients.


PHILIP J. GIRARDIN [#142664], 60, of Glendale Probation was revoked, the previous stay of suspension was lifted and he was actually suspended for 90 days. The order took effect July 2, 2006.

Girardin stipulated that he failed to file numerous quarterly probation reports or proof of attendance at Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, and he did not keep his address current with the State Bar.

He was placed on interim suspension in 1999 following a conviction for driving under the influence with a prior. He subsequently was suspended and placed on probation, and in 2002 was suspended again for failing to meet the conditions of his probation.

In mitigation, Girardin was hospitalized earlier this year for treatment of a kidney disorder and depression.


ROBERT M. NUSBAUM [#149672], 44, of Lancaster Probation was revoked, the previous stay of suspension was lifted and he was actually suspended for two years and until he proves his rehabilitation. He was ordered to comply with rule 955. Credit will be given for a period of involuntary inactive enrollment that began April 7, 2006. The order took effect July 9, 2006.

Nusbaum failed to comply with probation conditions attached to a 2004 discipline. He filed two quarterly probation reports late, did not file two at all and did not submit proof of attendance at ethics school.

In the underlying matter, Nusbaum stipulated that he failed to perform legal services competently, deposit client funds in his trust account, render appropriate accounts and promptly pay out client funds. He also was suspended in 2001.


GORDON RANDOLPH WRIGHT [#78644], 61, of San Diego Probation was revoked, the previous stay of suspension was lifted and he was actually suspended for six months and was ordered to comply with rule 955. Credit will be given for a period of involuntary inactive enrollment that began March 25, 2006. The order took effect July 9, 2006.

Wright failed to comply with probation conditions attached to a 2005 disciplinary order — he did not file one quarterly report, update his membership records address with the State Bar or provide proof that he sent an itemized bill of the work he performed to his former clients, refunded any unearned fees or offered to arbitrate any fee dispute.

In the underlying case, Wright stipulated that he failed to perform legal services competently, communicate with clients, promptly release client rules or cooperate with the bar's investigation, and he improperly withdrew from representation.


RANDY E. BENDEL [#130569], 44, of West Hills was revoked, the previous stay of suspension was lifted and he was actually suspended for two years and until he proves his rehabilitation, pays court-ordered sanctions and makes restitution. He was ordered to comply with rule 955. Credit will be given for the period of involuntary inactive enrollment that began April 7, 2006. The order took effect July 9, 2006.

Bendel violated his 2004 probation by failing to submit a quarterly report, submit proof of attendance at ethics school or report a change of address to the State Bar.

In the underlying discipline, the State Bar Court found that Bendel disobeyed court orders, misled judges and filed unjustified actions as well as lawsuits without cause and for the purpose of harassment. The matter was a dissolution that the court said Bendel transformed into a monster.


DAVID ELIAS FETTERMAN [#189990], 38, of Lafayette Probation was revoked, the previous stay of suspension was lifted and he was actually suspended for two years and until he proves his rehabilitation, attends ethics school and makes restitution, and he was ordered to comply with rule 955. Credit toward the suspension will be given for a period of involuntary inactive enrollment that began April 2, 2006. Two concurrent and identical orders, involving two separate disciplines, took effect July 9, 2006.

There are two underlying discipline cases. In a 2003 matter, Fetterman was disciplined for misconduct in two client matters and for a criminal conviction for misdemeanor possession of child pornography. In the client matters, he failed to refund unearned fees, provide an accounting for fees, respond to client inquiries, perform legal services with competence or cooperate with the bar's investigation. He also improperly withdrew from representation.

In a 2005 matter, he stipulated that he failed to comply with rule 955 by not submitting the required affidavit to the Supreme Court.

Fetterman did not participate in the probation revocation proceedings.


MICHAEL L. CHALLGREN [#137072], 46, of Hermosa Beach was suspended for six months, stayed, placed on three years of probation and was ordered to take the MPRE within one year. The order took effect July 13, 2006.

Challgren stipulated to three counts of misconduct in his handling of a civil lawsuit filed against his clients. He was hired to try to negotiate a settlement of a secured debt of $10,000 owed by a married couple; they understood that if no settlement were reached, they would be responsible for the full amount plus interest and attorney fees.

Challgren did not tell the clients their case was referred to arbitration, nor did he tell them of the hearing date so they did not appear. The arbitrator ruled against them and awarded $12,750 to the plaintiff. Challgren did not notify the clients.

He filed a request for a trial, but did not tell the clients that a date was set. Again they did not appear and a judgment of $13,211 was entered against them.

When the clients learned about the judgment, they tried to contact Challgren several times, but never succeeded. A new lawyer obtained the court file, contacted Challgren and said the clients only wanted him to try to have the judgment set aside. He did not do so.

Only after the sheriff went to the client's business to levy the funds in his cash register did Challgren move successfully to set aside the judgment and the case then settled for $10,500.

Challgren stipulated that he failed to perform legal services competently, keep clients informed about developments in their case or respond to clients' reasonable status inquiries.

Challgren was privately reproved in 2001.


JAMES W. BRAVOS [#138097], 51, of San Diego was suspended from practice for two years, stayed, placed on four years of probation and was ordered to prove his rehabilitation and take the MPRE within one year. The order took effect July 13, 2006.

Bravos stipulated to misconduct in two matters.

In the first, while representing the defendant in a civil lawsuit, he failed to appear for three case management conferences, two mediation hearings, a trial setting conference and an order to show cause hearing. He was sanctioned $3,712.50. He didn't pay the sanctions or report them to the State Bar. The case eventually settled.

In the second matter, Bravos wrote checks against insufficient funds in his client trust account, commingled funds and used the account to pay personal and business expenses.

In mitigation, he has no discipline record since his 1988 admission to the bar, he cooperated with the bar's investigation and he had severe family and financial problems.


MARC STEPHAN FELDMAN [#108293], 48, of Los Angeles was suspended for two years, stayed, placed on three years of probation and was ordered to prove his rehabilitation and take the MPRE within one year. The order took effect July 13, 2006.

In a 1999 burglary of Feldman's home, cash, a ring, a leather jacket and four paintings were stolen. He made an insurance claim for $24,900 after telling his estranged wife, who purchased most of the items, to be vague and provide misleading information about their true value.

The wife provided far lower values for the stolen items and the insurance claim was denied. Feldman stipulated that he advised someone to violate the law.

He then sued the insurance carrier, but the court granted summary judgment. Feldman filed for reconsideration, but he was sanctioned $2,990 for filing a motion that was not grounded in fact nor warranted by law.

Although he paid the sanction to the insurer, he did not inform the bar.

In mitigation, he has no prior discipline record and he was going through a bitter custody battle at the time.


JANET ANN GALENO [#114814], 55, of Foster City was suspended for one year, stayed, placed on two years of probation with a 90-day actual suspension and was ordered to take the MPRE, comply with rule 955 and make restitution. If the actual suspension exceeds two years, she must prove her rehabilitation. The order took effect July 13, 2006.

Galeno stipulated to five counts of misconduct in two matters.

She was suspended in 2001 for failing to comply with MCLE requirements, but accepted a fee from two clients who hired her to prepare a living trust. She later was suspended for failure to pay bar dues, but continued to represent the same couple. When her relationship with the couple ended, she did not promptly return an original deed they had provided.

She stipulated that she engaged in the unauthorized practice of law, collected a fee while not entitled to practice, failed to promptly release client papers and did not cooperate with the bar's investigation.

In the second matter, she did not comply with probation conditions attached to a 2004 disciplinary order — she failed to file two quarterly probation reports or make restitution. The underlying discipline resulted from collecting an unconscionable fee and failing to cooperate with the bar's investigation.

In mitigation, she had family problems at the time of the misconduct, and she acted in good faith.


MARK PARKEE McCREDIE [#189962], 56, of Ventura 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 July 13, 2006.

McCredie was convicted in 2000 of misdemeanor elder abuse. Two days later, the police were called to his home and found marijuana in plain view. He was subsequently convicted of misdemeanor possession of marijuana.

He stipulated that the convictions did not involve moral turpitude but did warrant discipline.

In another matter, a client hired him to handle a wage garnishment for unpaid state taxes and preparation of an injunction to halt the garnishment. After looking into the issues, McCredie concluded that an injunction would not be successful and he told the client he would not prepare it. The client sought a refund of his $300 advance fee, but McCredie did not return any money to him.

In mitigation, he was under severe financial stress and had physical or emotional difficulties.


JAMES EDWARD MacMASTER [#88823], 52, of Folsom was suspended for 60 days and until he takes the MPRE and attends ethics school. If the suspension exceeds 90 days, he must comply with rule 955; if it exceeds two years, he must prove his rehabilitation. The order took effect July 13, 2006.

MacMaster violated the terms of probation attached to a 2004 private reproval.

In mitigation, he did not attend ethics school or take the MPRE because of the stress of moving his mother into a nursing home. He has not practiced law for several years and does not intend to do so.


STEPHINE M. WELLS [#113148], 63, of Tiburon was suspended for two years, stayed, placed on two years of probation with a six-month actual suspension and was ordered to make restitution, take the MPRE and comply with rule 955. If the actual suspension exceeds two years, she must prove her rehabilitation. The order took effect July 14, 2006.

Wells was admitted to the California bar in 1984 and moved to South Carolina in 1996, where she represented at least nine clients in various matters in state and federal courts. She also returned to San Francisco frequently where she continued to represent clients.

In a 2005 trial before the bar, a hearing judge found that Wells engaged in the unauthorized practice of law, charged an unconscionable fee, failed to return unearned fees or maintain client funds in trust and she committed three acts of moral turpitude.

Although Wells admitted she practiced without a license in South Carolina, she appealed the hearing judge's findings, asserting that state regulation of her practice was pre-empted by federal law and challenging the bar court's jurisdiction.

In a sex harassment case in South Carolina, Wells was charged with six counts of misconduct. She collected fees and costs totaling $11,650, almost three times the amount the client originally agreed to pay. Indeed, the review department found the fees and costs "were so wholly disproportionate . . . as to shock the conscience."

The court reversed a finding of moral turpitude, but upheld violations that included unauthorized practice, collecting an illegal and unconscionable fee, and failure to refund an unearned fee or maintain a client trust account.

In another discrimination case, Wells received a 43 1/3 percent fee and the review department found she collected an illegal fee and failed to return an unearned fee. The court also found she made misrepresentations to a State Bar investigator and to a deputy solicitor in South Carolina, committing acts of moral turpitude.

The review department rejected Wells' pre-emption argument because her practice in South Carolina was not confined exclusively to federal court or federal agencies. It also rejected her jurisdictional argument.

In mitigation, Wells suffered from extreme emotional distress over her divorce and she cooperated with the bar's investigation.


JACLYN SHANDLER [#92480], 56, of Los Angeles was suspended for two years, stayed, placed on two years of probation with a 60-day actual suspension and was ordered to take the MPRE within one year. The order took effect July 14, 2006.

The review department reduced the level of discipline recommended by a hearing judge as a result of Shandler's actions in two cases.

In a personal injury case, Shandler never met or spoke to her client, instead relying on an employee. She asked another lawyer, to whom she sometimes referred cases, to draft the complaint and later to try to settle the case.

After learning that the client had not agreed to split the fee and that no notice of association had been filed with the court, the other lawyer returned the

client's file to Shandler. She did not appear at two hearings and the case was dismissed. When the client's father learned about the dismissal and confronted Shandler, she said the case had been "closed" and asked for $250 to reopen it. She never moved to set aside the dismissal.

The review department found that Shandler failed to return her client's phone calls or keep her informed of developments in her case, failed to perform legal services competently, disobeyed court orders and committed acts of moral turpitude by making misrepresentations and trying to collect an additional fee.

In a second personal injury case, Shandler filed a complaint in June 2001. In September, Shandler's husband, also a lawyer who helped in her office, told the client she no longer handled personal injury matters and would return his file. The review department found that Shandler did no work on the case in the intervening months. After October, however, she continued to represent the client to "keep the case alive" before withdrawing a year later.

The client settled the case with his daughter's help. The daughter complained it took a long time because Shandler asserted a lien for attorney's fees and costs.

The review department agreed with a hearing judge's finding that Shandler failed to perform legal services competently or keep a client reasonably informed of developments in her case.


GARY M. WALTERS [#134769], 47, of Los Angeles Probation was revoked, the previous stay of suspension was lifted and he was actually suspended for one year and was ordered to comply with rule 955. Credit will be given for a period of inactive involuntary enrollment that began April 16, 2006. The order took effect July 19, 2006.

Walters filed several quarterly probation reports late and did not submit proof that he attended ethics school or trust accounting school.

In the underlying matter, Walters stipulated that he deposited personal funds in his client trust account and paid his personal and business debts from the account. He also practiced law while suspended for failing to pay his membership fees.


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